Eberhard Jüngel: God is only made known by God in God's Word

If God's being-as-object is his being-revealed, then God is object in his Word. For Barth, indeed, defined revelation as God's self-interpretation. But if God is objective in his Word, then it is true 'that through His word God is actually known' (CD II/1, 4). God's being-as-object thus consists in the fact that God as God has become speakable. And the knowledge of God consists in the fact that the God who as God has become speakable comes to speech in that 'he is considered and conceived by men' (9). This event, in which the God who as God has become speakable comes to speech in human words, is faith. 'Faith is the total positive relationship of man to the God who gives Himself to be known in His Word. . . . It is the Yes which [man] pronounces in his heart when confronted by this God . . . in the light of the clarity that God is God and that He is his God. . . . It is in this occurrence of faith that there is the knowledge of God' (12), which, in the certainty of faith is 'mediated knowledge' (9).

The being-as-subject of the person who knows God is therefore faith. But since, as we have seen, the human person is only the subject of the knowledge of God in so far as he or she is made (fit) this subject, faith is not to be understood as a general human capacity for knowledge (
cum assensione cogitare [to think with assent]), by virtue of which God could then still be objectified. Rather, 'faith as the positive relationship of man to God comes from God Himself' in so far as 'God encounters man in the Word' (12). God comes before us in his Word. Faith comes to us from God through his Word. In faith we come before God. Accordingly, God is to be perceived in God's Word. God allows himself be perceived through his Word, in that he grants faith. In faith God is perceived. 'Man knows God in that he stands before God' (9).

—Eberhard Jüngel,
God's Being Is in Becoming: The Trinitarian Being of God in the Theology of Karl Barth, trans. John Webster, 58-59.


I am surprised no one has commented on this yet. Let me parse out what I think Jüngel asserts via Barth:

1. All metaphysical paths of knowledge of God are rendered null and void, because the only way of knowing God is (a) in faith, and (b) through the Word of God incarnate and written.

2. We are not the rational subjects of knowledge of God, but God always remains the subject, because it is only by God's gift of faith that we are able to understand who God is on the basis of God's self-revelation.

3. Knowledge of God is not generally available to people apart from the relation established by God in the covenant of grace. Nature, human history, and philosophy are not means of understanding the being of God.

4. In thinking about God, the human person finds that she is the object, not God. In the pursuit of knowing God, the human person discovers that she is already known by God. This discovery is faith.