Sunday, 12 September 2010

Calvin. Luther and Barth

Just started reading Barth's lectures on Calvin from 1922. He comes up with the surprising statement that 'nothing really new came into history with the Reformation'. He has an interesting contract between the enthusiast Caspar Schwenkfeld who thought the Reformation was the dawn of a new age, with Luther's conviction that it was nothing new, but the re-discovery or reintroduction of something old, the Word of God, meeting history as it did in the 1st century, the 5th and every other time when the Word has made itself heard. "The world now faces God's Word exactly as it did two thousand years ago. God's Word always comes down on the same time". It is a broader, grander philosophy of history that sees the connections of history not the disconnections. It warns us against the kind of historical excitement that is always seeing a 'new generation arising' or 'a new day dawning', but a proper humility about history and a sense of the eternity of God and his revelation in contrast to our fleeting whims and self-important delusions of our own historical significance.

1 comment:

  1. I take the point about having a proper humility regarding the importance of our own time and the importance of our connection and continuity with the "cloud of witnesses" but yet....Surely God does have a grand plan of history. We are now nearer the end than we (or they) were.

    I am struck by Raniero Cantalamessa's view that there is a progressive revelation to the Church. Not that everything wasn't there at the beginning but that the church only understands it gradually. The Trinity was is there in scripture but the church took a while to be able to express it clearly, maybe the same could be said of salvation by faith. Cantalamessa's view seems to be that in this age the church is gaining a better understanding than before of the work of the Holy Spirit.

    What's your view on this?


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