Sunday, January 24, 2010

On Knowing God and Studying Theology: Reflections of a Newcomer to Church Dogmatics (Part 2)

Barth, the man regarded by many as the most significant theologian of the twentieth century, writes,

As compared with proclamation dogmatics involves a different mode and function but in no sense a higher stage of faith or the knowledge of faith. It was clearly one of the results of the struggle with ancient Gnosticism that the Church rejected an aristocracy of scientific theologians in its midst. But the idea is a natural one, and in practice it can always be a temptation. We must be very clear that the simplest proclamation of the Gospel can be proclamation of the truth in the most unlimited sense and can validly communicate the truth to the most unsophisticated hearer if God so will. Dogmatics is not the technique of certain people who are better placed spiritually (Church Dogmatics, I. 1. 3).

He goes on a little more, but I think he's made his point. Similar thoughts can be found in Bavinck when he says that those who have no formal theological education and those who do possess knowledge of God that may differ in degree but not in kind. Also, Stephen Holmes opens his book The Wondrous Cross with the claim that theology's job is to clarify what the people of God already know. Hopefully, at Denver Seminary and beyond we theology students (even if we're not Barth or Calvin or Augustine) go about our business with an awareness of this, refusing to locate ourselves in an artificial upper-tier of Christian intelligentsia and aiming to employ theological understanding in a pastoral way.


  1. 一個人的價值,應該看他貢獻了什麼,而不是他取得了什麼 ..................................................

  2. Unfortunately, I'm not able to translate this font by way of MS Word. However, if it is a serious comment, please do repost it in a font accessible to an English speaker.