Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Luther v. Barth on Scripture

"It is not accurate [...] to equate Luther’s sense of the whole of Scripture as bearing and witnessing to Christ with the Barthian concept of Scripture as a witness to the Word or to revelation. Luther understood all of Scripture to bear witness to Christ precisely because he viewed Scripture as God’s revelatory Word and Christ as the fulfillment of God’s revelation—Barth understood Scripture as witness to Christ because he viewed Christ as the Word and as God’s revelation in an ultimate and ultimately restrictive sense and Scripture as Word only in a derivative sense, and not as revelation. For Barth, Scripture can be said to become God’s Word in the event of God speaking through it to believers concerning the revelation that is Jesus Christ. The difference between the two perspectives is frequently overlooked by theologians who would relate the Reformation to neoorthodoxy and drive a wedge between the Reformation and post-Reformation Protestantism. This fundamentally different understanding of revelation tended to bias Barth’s readings of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century theology, particularly in terms of the question of what could or could not be revealed and known concerning God and God’s will."

--Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy;  Volume 2: The Cognitive Foundation of Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 67.