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April 8, 2008

The Kerygma Is Not About Me

Here is something from Barth:

One of the many false propositions which Evangelical theology championed at one of its acknowledged peaks in the 19th century is that I myself as a Christian am the most proper object of knowledge to myself as a theologian. To be sure, I myself as a Christian, in my regeneration, conversion and renewal, am an indispensable instrument to myself as a theologian, as a preacher and pastor, as the witness which I am called to be like others. But I am not a theme or object. I am not the object of my knowledge and proclamation, nor of my witness, in any conceivable form. I and my personal Christianity do not belong to the kerygma to be declared by me.
I could only obscure the light of the real theme of my witness if I tried to put myself forward as a transparency, no matter how fine or profound my experiences. The Christian is to attest the Word of God with the veracity of one who is himself called and therefore liberated, and in so doing he is to bring out as such the application in the calling and liberation of each and every man. But if he is not to cause offence, but rather to bring honour to God and to be serviceable to Him, he must spare his fellows any direct information concerning himself and the way in which the Word of God has become significant and effective in his own life in some such application. It need hardly be indicated against what kind of proclamation this delimitation is directed.
(Church Dogmatics IV.3.2, p. 677)

Perhaps it does need to be indicated, from generation to generation. On the other hand, is this an overstatement? In any case, it is a warning worth meditating on.

Posted by Dan Reid at 3:06 PM

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