Saturday, July 29, 2006

Jüngel and baptism

Kurt Anders Richardson’s book, Reading Karl Barth, includes a very substantial engagement with Eberhard Jüngel’s work on baptism. Richardson argues for the validity of Jüngel’s assertion that “whoever wishes to baptise infants should not proclaim his closeness to Barth’s doctrine of predestination.” I’ve discussed this in a review of the book over at Faith and Theology.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Further GBB posts

I plan on continuing the series through God's Being Is in Becoming starting this next week. After looking at the two introductions, the posts will now follow a set pattern to keep them at a reasonable length. They will have the following format:

Key Concept

Summary of Section

Key Quote

Further Reading

The first chapter is "God's Being Revealed," and the first section is on the vestigium trinitatis.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

'My Theology': I believe, therefore I differentiate

I believe, therefore I differentiate. Faith is an act of original differentiation. Through an act of original differentiation, God created other, creaturely being, and within this created reality he created wholesome distinctions between heaven and earth, day and night, water and land, man and woman, etc. Similarly, faith which trusts in God knows itself bound to original differentiation. It differentiates first and foremost between God and world, between creator and creature, in order to bring out their proper relation of an unsurpassable nearness. ...

Those who believe have found in God and in God alone the origin and goal of their being, the supporting foundation of their existence. They know themselves to be eternally secure in his creative love, and in it alone. They know themselves to be justified by God’s grace, and by it alone. They know Jesus Christ as the way and the truth and the life, and he alone. When it is a matter of the truth of their idea of God and of their salvation, they listen to the Holy Scriptures, and to them alone. The believer knows faith and faith alone as that creative passivity, in which being able to take is more blessed than being able to give. But to say alone and only is already to be involved in differentiating in a fundamental way that which may in no way be mixed. Sin is known as the presumptuousness of wanting to be like God, and its destructive compulsion as the need to want to be like God. The believer knows that God became human to differentiate savingly and definitively between God and humanity. ‘We should be human and not God. That is the summa.’ The believer exists in distinction. In this way he or she safeguards life’s wealth of relations. Whoever differentiates has more from life.

—Eberhard Jüngel, Theological Essays II, 12-13

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Jüngel's sermons

Part of the original vision for this blog was formulated as follows:

‘I hope people will join in the task of making this very difficult but even more profound theologian more accessible to the church today’.

It is for that reason that I shall, now and then, post selections from Jüngel’s sermons, with perhaps light discussion as to his method. I am a NT exegete, and how Jüngel handles scripture is a major question within my own horizon.

In his introduction to his multi-volume collection of sermons, Jüngel writes:

‘Sermons are attempts, with the help of biblical texts, to make discoveries with God. Whoever discovers God doesn’t remain the old person, the one who he, until now, was aware of, and of whom he must truly be aware of again and again. For whoever discovers God, learns also to know himself entirely anew, making, to a certain extent, surprising discoveries about himself and his world. And so he begins to become astounded’ (Predigten, Vol 1., p. 7)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The freedom of theology: seven theses

1. The freedom of theology is the exercise of theology’s right to be exclusively theology.

2. The freedom of theology is the freedom of Christian existence perceived in the responsibility of thinking.

3. The freedom of theology has its possibility in the position of theology [i.e., its position over against the Word of God].

4. The freedom of theology has its reality in the word of theology.

5. The freedom of theology has its necessity in the necessity of theology.

6. The freedom of theology is carried out in the controversy over the freedom of theology.

7. The freedom of theology becomes concrete in the demands of freedom.

[Jüngel goes on to develop each of these theses with a series of sub-theses, resulting in a total of 166 theses on the freedom of theology!]

—Eberhard Jüngel, “Die Freiheit der Theologie,” in Entsprechungen: Gott, Wahrheit, Mensch (München: Chr. Kaiser Verlag, 1986), p. 29.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

GBB. Introduction II: Responsible Speech about the Being of God According to Karl Barth

Barth thinks as a theologian. [. . .] This means, however, that the being of God which is the subject of theological questioning is prevenient. (9)
Jüngel presents in this second introduction to God's Being Is in Becoming a concept taken from Barth’s dogmatics that he unpacks in much greater detail in his great work, God as the Mystery of the World. The concept is Nachdenken, to think after, which characterizes Barth’s method of theology. Theology, according to Barth and Jüngel, is a thinking-after (Nachdenkens) God’s self-revelation. God’s being precedes all human thought, and thus God is the subject rather than the object of theology who gives Godself to humanity as an object for thought. To think “as a theologian” means allowing God to determine how one can and should think of God. God precedes, and humanity follows. All human presuppositions are laid aside. Jüngel writes:
God’s being goes before the theological question about God’s being; it is not in some way presupposed by this inquiry. [. . .] As object of theological questioning, the being of God cannot be such a presupposition. It is much more a matter that the being of God goes before all theological questioning in such a way that in its movement it paves the way for questioning. (9)
What is the significance of this for Jüngel? Two things are worth noting. (1) Human beings do not set the parameters for God’s being; only God determines who God is. From the start, then, Jüngel rules out metaphysical theism as the inappropriate task of defining concepts without thinking-after God’s being, i.e., without following the movement of God’s self-revelation. Classical metaphysics makes God the object rather than the proceeding subject of theology. Theology that thinks-after God means “thinking consistently and exclusively as a theologian,” and not allowing any other discipline to determine how one should think of God.

(2) Jüngel is here setting the stage for his mediation between the positions of Barth and Bultmann—between the question of God’s being and the question of what it means to speak of God. Jüngel brings together dogmatics and hermeneutics by locating them both in the event of Jesus Christ as the focal point for the doctrine of God. Who God is and how to speak rightly of God are both revealed in the person of Jesus. Because this book is an explication of the doctrine of the Trinity, we can use trinitarian terms to express this more accurately. If the immanent Trinity is the being of God ad intra, then the economic Trinity is the being of God ad extra, which Jüngel describes as the being of God that proceeds and thus precedes all human thought. The event of Jesus Christ is the center of God’s economic activity, an activity which corresponds with God’s very being. Consequently, God’s being is revealed as a being-in-becoming in the person of Christ, so that who God is and how we speak of God correspond when we think-after God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ. But this is getting ahead of ourselves. For now, it is sufficient to note that, according to Jüngel,
The being of God is the hermeneutical problem of theology. Or, more precisely: the fact that the being of God proceeds is precisely the hermeneutical problem. For only because the being of God proceeds is there an encounter between God and humanity. And the hermeneutical problem is grounded in precisely this encounter between God and humanity which has its origin in the movement of God’s being. The encounter between God and humanity which has its origin in the movement of God’s being is, according to Barth, first and above all the encounter between the electing God and elected humanity, which is an event in Jesus Christ. Thus the existence of the man Jesus confronts us with the hermeneutical problem, both with regard to our understanding of God and with regard to our understanding of the self and the world. (10-11)