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Posts Tagged ‘righteousness’

“In fact, our experience is that which we have not experienced; our religion consists in the dissolution of religion; our law is the complete disestablishment of all human experience and knowledge and action and possession. Nothing human which desires to be more than a void and a deprivation, a possibility and a sign-post, more than the most trivial thing in the midst of the phenomena of this world, survives; nothing which is not, like everything else in this world, dust and ashes–before God. Only faith survives: faith which is not a work, not even a negative work; not an achievement, not even the achievement of humility; not a thing which exists before God and man in its own right. Faith is the ground, the new order, the light, where boasting ends and the true righteousness of God begins. Faith is not a foundation upon which men can emplace themselves; not an atmosphere in which they can breathe; not a system under which they can arrange their lives. Regarded from our human point of view, what was once religion and law and a method of life becomes anarchy and a void and an abyss. But the law of the faithfulness of God, or, what is the same thing, the law of faith, is the place where we are established by God. There there is nothing but God Himself, God only; and there the place is no place; for it is the ‘Moment’ when men are moved by God, by the true God, the Creator and Redeemer of men and of all human things; the ‘Moment’ when men surrender themselves and all that they are to God. The ‘Moment’ of the movement of men by God is beyond men, it cannot be enclosed in a system or a method or a ‘way’. It rests in the good pleasure of God and its occasion is to be sought and found only in Him. The law of the spirit of life (viii. 2) is the point of view–which is no point of view!–by which all human boasting is excluded.” p. 110 The Epistle to the Romans

I will work backwards. This is a foreshadow of an upcoming post I will do about me and how I came to my beliefs. Perhaps that is the wrong wording…

The point of view which is no point of view… is the law of the spirit of life. Kind of weird already. What is a point of view which is no point of view? The moment when men are moved by God cannot be enclosed in a system or method or ‘way’. Our destiny and salvation, our life and our truth, are not things that fit into an order that we can create and follow. Many disagree on this, but I will proceed. Men are moved by God, and surrender themselves and all that they are to Him in this Moment where, in the place that is no place, where there is nothing but God Himself, Creator and Redeemer, the law of faith is established. Where is God, and God alone, establishing the law of faith in man? The place that is no place. We do not create the law of faith, or have faith in God. He first moves us to Him. He first creates faith and gives it to us. What do we do? We surrender all that we are to Him. Can we do otherwise? Our human law, our human religion, our human methods and ‘ways’ are naught. They are anarchy, void and abyss. Faith is not a foundation upon which we can stand, or a sustaining air we can breath, or a system that we can adhere to. Faith is where the righteousness of God begins, and the boasting of man ends. It is the ground, the new order, the light…it is not an achievement of humility by man, but of God. It is not a work! In the world, nothing human that is not but dust and ashes survives before God. What survives is deprivation, void, possibility…a sign-post pointing beyond ourselves and to God. What survives is Faith! What we experience is what we have not experienced. Our religion is not religion, but the dissolution of it. Our law throws away all human experience, knowledge, action and possession. What do we have but faith…

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“Secretly we are ourselves the masters in this relationship. We are not concerned with God, but with our own requirements, to which God must adjust Himself.”

This is plucked from Barth’s Epistle to the Romans. In this section he goes over how we diminish God so much so that we stop thinking about God for who He is, and replace Him with ourselves. We become the God we worship, unknowingly, and therefore dangerously. At the end of this passage, quoted in full below, Barth describes the context and solution in more detail.

“Our relation to God is ungodly. We suppose that we know what we are saying when we say ‘God’. We assign to Him the highest place in our world: and in so doing we place Him fundamentally on one line with ourselves and with things. We assume that He needs something: and so we assume that we are able to arrange our relation to Him as we arrange our other relationships. We press ourselves into proximity with Him: and so, all unthinking, we make Him nigh unto ourselves. We allow ourselves to reckon with Him as though this were not extraordinary behavior on our part. We dare to deck ourselves out as His companions, patrons, advisers, and commissioners. We confound time with eternity. This is the ungodliness of our relation to God. And our relation to God is unrighteous. Secretly we are ourselves the masters in this relationship. We are not concerned with God, but with our own requirements, to which God must adjust Himself. Our arrogance demands that, in addition to everything else, some super-world should also be known and accessible to us. Our conduct calls for some deeper sanction, some approbation and remuneration from another world. Our well-regulated, and pleasurable life longs for some hours of devotion, some prolongation into infinity. And so, when we set God upon the throne of the world, we mean by God ourselves. In ‘believing’ on Him, we justify, enjoy and adore ourselves. Our devotion consists in a solemn affirmation of ourselves and of the world and in a pious setting aside of the contradiction. Under the banners of humility and emotion we rise in rebellion against God. We confound time with eternity. That is our unrighteousness. –Such is our relation to God apart from and without Christ, on this side resurrection, and before we are called to order. God Himself is not acknowledged as God and what is called ‘God’ is in fact Man. By living to ourselves, we serve the ‘No-God’. ” p. 44 The Epistle to the Romans

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“For whom is it [the knowledge of God] not too wonderful and excellent? Who can abide its brilliance or breathe its air? Who does not fear lest all things should come to an end? Who does not perhaps–nay, probably–nay, certainly–substitute for the righteousness of this unapproachable God some very refined, very excellent, very significant, righteousness of his own, to which is added, of course, some such phrase as with the help of God or trusting in God? Who does not substitute some plan or programme or method, some new thing, some new ‘interpretation of the truth’, some movement or task, which gives us less to create but more to do, less to ponder but more to talk about, less to endure but more to undertake, than does the righteousness of God? And so we introduce a ‘thing’ by which men–and especially religious men–secure an advantage for themselves. Immersed in the happiness of doing and speaking and inaugurating, busy with reforms and revolutions, they are able to forget the judgment hanging over their heads, and so the ‘thing’ on which they are engaged turns out more to their credit than if they were to seek naught else but to fear and to love God above all things. Was there ever a period when the Church was free of the temptation to substitute a human righteousness of its own for the righteousness of God? Was there ever a time when the temptation was resisted?” p. 373 The Epistle to the Romans

Wow! I put up kind of a long quote there from Barth, but stick with it and think about it! I will be back to Bonhoeffer on ethics tomorrow.

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