Devotional thoughts on the Word of God

On the eve of the celebration of the birth of Christ -- the Word made flesh -- here is a paragraph from one of the most important books undergirding Jüngel's theology. The book is Introduction to a Theological Theory of Language by Gerhard Ebeling. Pardon the gendered language; this book was published long before our current understanding of such words became commonplace.


What Christian faith calls the word of God is not, and never was, 'self-evident' to man (in the trivial and pejorative sense of the phrase). He was never able to take it in smoothly, without trouble and painlessly -- and without joy, as this would no doubt have meant. Agreement with what was proclaimed and addressed to one never took place without difficulties, and assent was never automatic. The believer has always owed his faith to a miracle, to a radical change of mind which overwhelms him. According to Luther, the word of God always comes as adversarius noster, our adversary. It does not simply confirm and strengthen us in what we think we are and as what we wish to be taken for. It negates our nature, which has fallen prey to illusion; but this is the way the word of God affirms our being and makes it true. This is the way, the only way, in which the word draws us into concord and peace with God. This structure of the certainty of justification, which is none other than the belief in creation and the hope of the resurrection, is in a sense also the basic pattern of the miraculous power of the word of God. It is a power which one cannot grow used to, to which one cannot become indifferent, and which one cannot take under one's control; and the giving of assent to the testimony borne to it is itself experienced as a miracle. But all this, as it happens to the believer, is genuinely self-evident -- in a stricter and more precise sense of the term. He does not give his assent to it because his heart is forced and broken, but because it is set free and made whole.


Shane said…
David, this is a very interesting passage and has provoked a fit of counterreformation zeal in me. i am trying to write it up as a medieval disputation in three questions regarding nature, grace, and the concept of 'knowledge' of God.

i'll email it to you when i finish.

Bethany Pledge said…
Hey, why don't you email it to me too?
Shane said…
will do.

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