Dogmatics as an Act of Prayer

I pray that you will indulge me as I quote Barth again. I think that this might be a become a bit of a habit. I told Mary Beth this evening that there are some authors that you just can’t quote. Barth is one of them, but not for reasons you might think. Barth is difficult to quote because you never stop. I am only 25 pages into the first volume and I have wanted to post something here from every page. Nevertheless, I won’t pass up the opportunity to share, even if it means you get a bit bored.

The following is taken from the conclusion of the first chapter on “The Task of Dogmatics.” Barth writes,

We maintain that humanly speaking there is nothing to alleviate the difficulty. We simply confess the mystery which underlies it, and we merely repeat the statement that dogmatics is possible only as an act of faith, when we point to prayer as the attitude without which there can be no dogmatic work.

Prayer can be the recognition that we accomplish nothing by our intentions, even though they be intentions to pray. Prayer can be the expression of our human willing of the will of God. Prayer can signify that for good or evil man justifies God and not himself. Prayer can be the human answer to the divine hearing already granted, the epitome of the true faith which we cannot assume of ourselves. We do not speak of true prayer if we say ‘must’ instead of ‘can.’ According to Rom. 8:26f the way from ‘can’ to ‘must’ is wrapped in the mystery at the gates of which we here stand. With this reference we do not give anyone a means by which he can count on succeeding in his work. It must be said, however, that it is hard to see how else there can be successes in this work but on the basis of divine correspondence to this human attitude: ‘Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.’

-Church Dogmatics, The Doctrine of the Word of God I.1, p 23-24

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3 Responses to Dogmatics as an Act of Prayer

  1. Craig Benno says:

    Jacob, one of these days I want a set of his Dogmatics. Until then I have to beg, borrow, or utilise what others write about him or quote him as saying. You won’t be boring this reader.

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