20th Century Theology

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

I might actually agree with this statement by Werner Elert, but only when one includes that God’s mercifulness has been made manifest in the incarnation of his Son, Jesus Christ.

The mark of faith is, rather, characterized by the fact that we are struck thus and thus, by the law and by the gospel. And the leap of faith is a risk inasmuch as it throws itself  into the arms of God in defiance of his revealed wrath — with the conviction that those arms will not let us fall into the abyss, that the wrath is concealed, that sin is covered up. That is the risk of faith; and for that reason, faith pursues its course counter to appearances.

I would give my unflinching endorsement to this statement with some clarification, which, to be fair Elert does go into after these comments. Elert however was the fiercest confessional opponent of Barth, even opposing Barth’s Barmen Declaration. In some ways, he manifests a dialectic more oppositional than Barth’s dialect. For Barth law and gospel become one in Christ. For Elert law and gospel are forever separated and actually represent a mysterious sort of schizophrenia in God. That is what comes out here, via a very Kiekegaardian idiom – “leap of faith.” In my Bible, however, Rom. 1:18, revealing the wrath of God, and Rom. 5:8, revealing the love of God, are both alike . . . well, revelations demonstrated in concrete event. It seems odd to insist that the Nein! of God is revealed while His Ja! is not so much. Barth’s dialectic presents its own problems, but this confusion for effect possesses little justification.

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