Thursday, September 26, 2013

No straight lines

Human experience and thought as such, if they were to follow their own bias, would proceed in a straight line from despair to even deeper despair, from solemnity to even greater solemnity (there is also a negative theologia gloriae), or from triumph to even higher triumph, from joy to even greater joy.  To faith, however, this straight line movement is forbidden by the Word of God, which calls us from despair to triumph, from solemnity to joy, but also from triumph to despair and from joy to solemnity.  This is theologia crucis.
 Thus Karl Barth, in CD I/1, p 191.

The experience of the Word of God is an experience of always being called out of one place into another.  The Word of God meets us in our despair and calls us to a place of security and safety as it extends to us the righteousness of Christ.  The Word of God meets us in our security and calls us to a place of renunciation and repentance as it highlights our continuing sinfulness.  Always it is a call, which means that it is always an encounter, a fresh encounter.  This is personal interaction, not an escalator to holiness (or indeed to deeper and deeper self-renunciation).

God's Word "never leaves us alone whether in our humility or our pride".  God's Word goes with us, but not as our possession; not as the confirmation of our present humiliation or triumph.  How then would it be personal encounter?  Would it not be far more likely that this word which confirms me in my current state is just a self-reflection?  As the Word of God calls me out of humiliation into triumph, and out of triumph into humiliation, I hear the true speech of God, which is Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.

And faith is comforted despair.

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