17 maj 2013

#118. Karl har ordet...

"If Christianity is properly understood, that is, on the basis of the historical sources, the documentation of its origins in the Old and New Testaments – and that, incidentally, is the task of theology – it is impossible to shut one's eyes to the realization that, in contrast to religion, its essence is not man's arising to go to God, but God's arising to go to man. None of the men referred to in those documents engaged in straining their human capacities to the uttermost, their feelings, intellect, will and ability, to track down a supreme other-wordly being, or to do justice to him by cruder or more sophisticated concepts of the divine or by forms of worship emphasizing either the ritualistic or the moral side. Instead they are mentioned only because for their sake and that of the whole world the other-wordly became this-wordly before their eyes and in their ears.

The one, the true, the living God – for it is he who is that being of an entirely different kind – arose in his whole majesty and before man ever thought of him or searched for him, or gave him occasion to do so. In his divine liberty he acted, still acts and will continue to act; he spoke, speaks now and will speak again, and all in order to take man under his protection, to take his affairs into his own hands and lead him to his goal. He took part in the this-worldly, terrestrial history from which Christianity takes its name, and provided a unique demonstration of his existence in the man Jesus Christ.

Christianity in its origin and essence is still present wherever men listen to the call of this God, are awakened and empowered by him to have faith, love and hope, and wherever they are obedient to him. Essential Christianity consists of – or rather happens when there is – active attentiveness to the acts and word of this God. Thus Christianity begins when religion ends, when religion has been finally overcome. Theology, incidentally, suffered its worst fall from grace when it began to look upon and present itself as the 'science of religion'. […]

Christian', properly understood, means being governed by the message of Jesus Christ, the liberating discovery of God's gracious move towards humanity. But such discovery is an event, not a condition or institution, and thus is not an attribute with which human creations can be endowed or by which they can be distinguished. Nor are we governed by the event, but at best are only distantly touched by it. The truth of the matter is that we still have really and properly to learn what is involved in this essential Christianity and thus with the happy reversal in which God moves ahead and man follows, God as the father and man as his child, in other words the whole meaning of Jesus Christ. There is a religious, but not a Christian West; there is only Western humanity confronted by Jesus Christ.

You too are faced by him, whether you are aware of it or not, no matter where you come from, no matter what open or concealed religion you belong to, no matter what kind of man you may be or what beliefs you may hold. Christ died for all men and lives for you all. The work of God that took place in him and the word of God spoken in him concern all men. The essential Christianity is the horizon and hope of us all. The day may come when it will be better understood and better lived in Asia and Africa than in our old Europe. Meanwhile try to learn, not from us, but with us, that the horizon and hope of us all also includes this: that God is for us and with us, and that Christianity is this happy reversal and elimination of all religion. The morsel of theology that I have offered you is meant to be a stimulus to you at least to think about it."

  • Barth, Karl, 1976: Fragments Grave and Gay. Glasgow: Collins. S. 28–31

PS. Del av ett tal som Karl Barth höll till utländska studenter, varav många kom från utvecklingsländer, i Basel 1963.

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