Monday 7 January 2008

Reconsidering Rudolf Bultmann

The new issue of the International Journal of Systematic Theology includes my article on Bultmann: “Faith as Self-Understanding: Towards a Post-Barthian Appreciation of Rudolf Bultmann,” IJST 10:1 (2007), 21-35 (please email me if you’d like a copy). While Barthian theologians condemn Bultmann’s doctrine of faith for “reducing theology to anthropology,” I argue that Bultmann identifies faith with self-understanding precisely in order to maintain the distinctiveness of God’s reality. Here’s an excerpt:

“According to Bultmann, God and humanity are differentiated at the exact point of their togetherness (Miteinander) – namely, in the movement of faith which itself corresponds to the event of God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ. In other words, God is distinguished from humanity precisely as the gracious God, the God who addresses us and claims us in the gospel. This formulation – which of course comes very close to Barth’s understanding – poses critical questions not only to overtly ‘objectifying’ theologies, but also to an ostensibly ‘Barthian’ construal of the divine freedom as sheer isolated autonomy over against the world.”

On a more general note, I reckon this is a very good issue of the IJST. As Paul Nimmo notes in his editorial, all the articles in this issue have a thematic focus on re-thinking the doctrine of God. There are articles on Descartes’ understanding of divine infinity, Wolf Krötke’s doctrine of the divine attributes, and the trinitarian theologies of religion of S. Mark Heim and Gavin D’Costa.

There’s also a provocative and important article by Adam Eitel: “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Karl Barth and the Historicization of God’s Being” (pp. 36-53). He explores the relation between Barth’s theology of resurrection and Hegel’s, and he argues that Barth “conceptualizes the resurrection as the historical fulfillment of God’s eternal being,” so that “God’s being is both eternally a being-for-resurrection and eternally a being-for-us.” I think this is a brilliant proposal – and I love the luminous concept of an eternal “being-for-resurrection.”


Chris TerryNelson said...

Congrats Ben! I look forward to reading it. This kind of proposal reminds me of what I read today in a footnote in Eberhard Jungel's God's Being is in Becoming which you can check out here.
Congrats to my good friend Adam Eitel on his first published work!

Anonymous said...

Being-for-resurrection as an answer to the heideggerian being-unto-death? As Barth said, "The goal of human life is not death, but resurrection".

Jon said...

I cited you in my dissertation so there you go! Already influencing cutting edge theology!

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