Saturday, December 22, 2012

Karl Barth, Universal Responsibility and Hearing the Gospel

"Faith, therefore, is never identical with 'piety', however pure and however delicate. In so far as 'piety' is a sign of the occurrence of faith, it is so as a dissolution of all other concrete things and supremely as the dissolution of itself. Faiths of its own, because it lives of God. this is the Centrum Pailinum (Bengel).

There is no man who ought not to believe or who cannot believe. Neither the Jew nor the Greek is disenfranchised from the Gospel. By setting a question-mark against the whole course of this world and its inevitability, the Gospel directly concerns every man. As surely as no one is removed from the universal questionableness of human life, so surely is no one excluded from the divine contradiction that is in Christ, by which this questionableness seeks to make itself known to men. The Jew, the religious and ecclesiastical man, is, it is true, FIRST summoned to make the choice; this is because he stands quite normally on the frontier of this world and at the point where the line of intersection by the new dimensional plane (i. 4) must be veritably seen (ii. 17-20; iii. I, 2; ix. 4, 5; x. 14, 15). But the advantage of the Jew provides him with no precedence. The problem 'Religion or Irreligion' --  not to speak of the problem 'Church of World' -- is not longer a fundamental problem. The possibility of hearing the Gospel is as universal as is the responsibility to hear it, and as is the promise vouchsafed to them who do hear it."
Karl Barth, "The Epistle to the Romans" pg40, ch1 vv16-17

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