Sunday, July 10, 2011

The humility of God.

Some very challenging words from Barth:

"Even in the form of a servant, which if the form of His presence and action in Jesus Christ, we have to do with God Himself in His true deity. The humility in which He dwells and acts in Jesus Christ is not alien to Him, but proper to Him. His humility is a novum mysterium for us in whose favour He executes it when He makes use of His freedom for it, when He shows His love even to His enemies and His life even in death, thus revealing them in a way which is quite contrary to all our false ideas about God. But for Him this humility is no novum mysterium. it is His sovereign grace that He wills to be and is amongst us in humility, our God, God for us. But He shows us this grace, He is amongst us in humility, our God, God for us, as that which He is in Himself, in the most inward depth of His Godhead. He does not become another God. In the condescension in which He gives Himself to us in Jesus Christ He exists and speaks and acts as the One He was from all eternity and will be to all eternity. The truth and actuality of our atonement depends on this being the case. The One who reconciles the world with God is necessarily the one God Himself in His true Godhead. Otherwise the world would not be reconciled with God. Otherwise it is still the world which is not reconciled with God."

- Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, IV.1, 193.

My question is this: is speech against the humility of Christ in the cross (and ultimately speech affirming impassibility) rooted in the biblical witness or simply a theologia gloriae? Does a true theologia crucis require an affirmation that the God revealed in the cross is who God is in Himself from all eternity? If not, how can we have any confidence of God's true identity?


Rod said...

I have come to believe that impassibility is inherently a by product of a theology of glory.

Anonymous said...

I think the first "if" needs to be changed to an "is."

David Richards said...

Hi Kait.

You ask excellent questions, but since I am non-conversant in Lutheran or Reformed literature (I come from an Orthodox Christian background), it might be better for me to begin with the questions -- to ensure that I really understand what it is you want to know, before I respond to something you did not say or never meant to imply. Like Socrates, I need the assurance that we are on the same page and do not talk past each other. :-)

When you wrote, "is speech against the humility of Christ in the cross (and ultimately speech affirming impassibility)" did you mean to suggest that the humility of Christ on the Cross and the impassibility of the Divine Nature are somehow in tension? If you did mean to suggest that, then do you believe this dichotomy (humility / impassibility) is *necessarily* in tension? Also, do you think humility is a passion?

I need to know what you mean by the distinction between a theology of the cross and a theology of glory. Perhaps because we do not mean the same thing when we use certain terms, this distinction likewise seems odd to me.

What do you mean by "Who God is in Himself"? His essence?

To your last question, it's unclear to me what you're asking. Maybe I'll await some clarification before responding to it.

I hope this comment finds you well. You continue in my thoughts and prayers.


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