Who am I to be a theologian?
For my 20th Century History & Doctrine course at Beeson Divinity School, I'm re-reading through Karl Barth's Evangelical Theology: An Introduction. If you're involved in the life and ministry of the Church in any respect, I strongly recommend that you buy and read this book!
Here's a particularly challenging portion from the chapter on "Wonder," beginning on page 71. I wish the language were gender-inclusive, but Karl's words still ring true:
"After all, who am I to be a theologian?
It does not matter whether I am the best child of the best parents, perhaps having known, like Timothy ( II Tim. 3:15), about the Holy Scriptures from the very time I began to think. It does not matter whether I have the cleverest mind or the most upright heart or the very best of intentions. Who am I to have put such trust in myself as to devote myself even remotely to the task of theology? Who am I to co-operate in this subject, at least potentially and perhaps quite actively, as a minor researcher, thinker, or teacher? Who am I to take up the quest for truth in the service and in the sense of the community, and to take pains to complete this quest?
I have put such trust in myself as soon as I touch theology with even my little finger, not to speak of occupying myself with it more or less energetically or perhaps even professionally. And if I have done that, I have without fail become concerned with the new event and the miracle attested to by the Bible.
This miracle involves far more than just the young man at Nain or the captain of Capernaum and their companions of whom the Gospelstell; far more than the Israelites' passage through the Red Sea, the wilderness, and the Jordan; far more than the sun that stood still upon Joshua's command at Gibeon. I have become involved in thereality of Godthat is only signaled by all these things. This is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who reveals himself in his Son through the Holy Spirit, who desired to be the God of man so that man might live ashisman.
I have become involved in the wonder of this God, together with all its consequences for the world and for each and every man. And whatever, however, and whoever I may be in other respects, I have finally and profoundly become a man made to wonder at himself by this wonder of God.
It is another question whether I know what self-wonderment means for me, whether I am ready and able to subordinate my bit of research, thought, and speech to the logic of this wonder (and not in reverse order!). But there can be no question about one fact: I find myself confronted by the wondrous reality of the livingGod. This confrontation occurs in even the most timid and untalented attempt to take seriously the subject in which I have become involved or to work theologically at all, whether in the field of exegesis, Church history, dogmatics, or ethics."
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