We are now assuming that we have here the centre and goal of all God's works, and therefore the hidden beginning of them all. We are also assuming that the prominent place occupied by this divine work has something corresponding to it in the essence of God, that the Son forms the centre of the Trinity, and that the essence of the divine being has, so to speak, its locus ... in His work, in the name and person of Jesus Christ.
A free theologian works in communication with other theologians...He waits for them and asks them to wait for him. Our sadly lacking yet indispensable theological co-operation depends directly or indirectly on whether or not we are wiling to wait for one another, perhaps lamenting, yet smiling with tears in our eyes.
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Faith is not an art. Faith is not an achievement. Faith is not a good work of which some may boast while others can excuse themselves with a shrug of the shoulders for not being capable of it. It is a decisive insight of faith itself that all of us are incapable of faith in ourselves, whether we think of its preparation, beginning, continuation, or completion. In this respect believers understand unbelievers, skeptics, and atheists better than they understand themselves. Unlike unbelievers, they regard the impossibility of faith as necessary, not accidental ...
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Society is now really ruled by its own logos; say rather by a whole pantheon of its own hypostases and powers... we are beginning to suspect that the idols are vain, but their demonic influence upon our lives is not thereby allayed. For it is one thing to entertain critical doubts regarding the god of this world, and another thing to perceive the dunamis, the meaning and might of the living God who is building a new world.
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The nativity mystery 'conceived from the Holy Spirit and born from the Virgin Mary', means, that God became human, truly human out of his own grace. The miracle of the existence of Jesus , his 'climbing down of God' is: Holy Spirit and Virgin Mary! Here is a human being, the Virgin Mary, and as he comes from God, Jesus comes also from this human being. Born of the Virgin Mary means a human origin for God. Jesus Christ is not only truly God, he is human like every one of us. He is human without limitation. He is not only similar to us, he is like us.
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It is undoubtedly the case (and considerations advanced in the first sub-section have prepared us for this conclusion) that the election does in some sense denote the basis of all the relationships between God and man, between God in His very earliest movement towards man and man in his very earliest determination by this divine movement. it is in the decision in favour of this movement, in God's self-determination and the resultant determination of man, in the basic relationship which is enclosed and fulfilled within Himself, that God is who He is.
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Theology is not a private subject for theologians only. Nor is it a private subject for professors. Fortunately, there have always been pastors who have understood more about theology than most professors. Nor is theology a private subject of study for pastors. Fortunately, there have repeatedly been congregation members, and often whole congregations, who have pursued theology energetically while their pastors were theological infants or barbarians. Theology is a matter for the Church.
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There does not exist any more a holy mountain or a holy city or holy land which can be marked on a map. The reason is not that God's holiness in space has suddenly become unworthy of Him or has changed into a heathen ubiquity. The reason is that all prophecy is now fulfilled in Jesus, and God's holiness in space, like all God's holiness, is now called and is Jesus of Nazareth.
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Thus in this oneness Jesus Christ is the Mediator, the Reconciler, between God and man. Thus He comes forward to MAN on behalf of GOD calling for and awakening faith, love and hope, and to GOD on behalf of MAN, representing man, making satisfaction and interceding. Thus He attests and guarantees to God's free GRACE and at the same time attests and guarantees to God man's free GRATITUDE.
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God wants man to be His creature. Furthermore, He wants him to be His PARTNER. There is a causa Dei in the world. God wants light, not darkness. He wants cosmos, not chaos. He wants peace, not disorder. He wants man to administer and to receive justice rather than to inflict and to suffer injustice. He wants man to live according to the Spirit rather than according to the flesh. He wants man bound and pledged to Him rather than to any other authority. He wants man to live and not to die. Because He wills these things God is Lord, Shepherd, and Redeemer of man, who in His holiness and mercy meets His creature; who judges and forgives, rejects and receives, condemns and saves.
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God's high freedom in Jesus Christ is His freedom for LOVE. The divine capacity which operates and exhibits itself in that superiority and subordination is manifestly also God's capacity to bend downwards, to attach Himself to another and this other to Himself, to be together with him. This takes place in that irreversible sequence, but in it is completely real. In that sequence there arises and continues in Jesus Christ the highest communion of God with man. God's deity is thus no prison in which He can exist only in and for Himself. It is rather His freedom to be in and for Himself but also with and for us, to assert but also to sacrifice Himself, to be wholly exalted but also completely humble, not only almighty but also almighty mercy, not only Lord but also servant, not only judge but also Himself the judged, not only man's eternal king but also his brother in time. And all that without in the slightest forfeiting His deity! All that, rather, in the highest proof and proclamation of His deity! He who DOES and manifestly CAN do all that, He and no other is the living God.
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In His free grace, God is for man in every respect; He surrounds man from all sides. He is man's Lord who is before him, above him, after him, and thence also with him in history, the locus of man's existence. Despite man's insignificance, God is with him as his Creator who intended and made mankind to be very good. Despite man's sin, God is with him, the One who was in Jesus Christ reconciling the world, drawing man unto Himself in merciful judgment. Man's evil past is not merely crossed out because of its irrelevancy. Rather, it is in the good care of God. Despite man's life in the flesh, corrupt and ephemeral, God is with him. The victor in Christ is here and now present through His Spirit, man's strength, companion, and comfort. Despite man's death God is with him, meeting him as redeemer and perfecter at the threshold of the future to show him the totality of existence in the true light in which the eyes of God beheld it from the beginning and will behold it evermore. In what He is for man and does for man, God ushers in the history leading to the ultimate salvation of man.
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On the basis of the eternal will of God we have to think of EVERY HUMAN BEING, even the oddest, most villainous or miserable, as one to whom Jesus Christ is Brother and God is Father; and we have to deal with him on this assumption. If the other person knows that already, then we have to strengthen him in the knowledge. If he does no know it yet or no longer knows it, our business is to transmit this knowledge to him.
He wants in His freedom actually not to be without man but WITH him and in the same freedom not against him but FOR him, and that apart from or even counter to what man deserves. He wants in fact to be man's partner, his almighty and compassionate Saviour. He chooses to give man the benefit of His power, which encompasses not only the high and the distant but also the deep and the near, in order to maintain communion with him in the realm guaranteed by His deity. He determines to love him, to be his God, his Lord, his compassionate Preserver and Saviour to eternal life, and to desire his praise and service.
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A free theologian works in communication with other theologians... He waits for them and asks them to wait for him. Our sadly lacking yet indispensable theological co-operation depends directly or indirectly on whether or not we are wiling to wait for one another, perhaps lamenting, yet smiling with tears in our eyes.
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Describing the relationship between the biblical witnesses and the theologians who come after, the author challenges that the theologian is not to correct the notebooks of the biblical writers like some high school teacher. Instead, our theology is always subject to what THEY say, as we willingly submit our notebooks for their approval.
In Jesus Christ there is no isolation of man from God or of God from man. Rather, in Him we encounter the history, the dialogue, in which God and man meet together and are together, the reality of the covenant MUTUALLY contracted, preserved, and fulfilled by them. Jesus Christ is in His one Person, as true GOD, MAN'S loyal partner, and as true MAN, GOD'S. He is the Lord humbled for communion with man and likewise the Servant exalted to communion with God.
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heaven and earth, nature and man, comedy and tragedy, ... the Virgin Mary and the demons... Mozart simply contains and includes all this within his music in perfect harmony. This harmony is not a matter of 'balance' or 'indifference' - it is a glorious upsetting of the balance, a turning in which the light rises and the shadows fall, in which the Yes rings louder than the ever-present
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He has heard, and causes those with ears to hear, even today, what we shall not see until the end of time - the whole context of Providence. As though in the light of this end, he heard the harmony of creation to which the shadow belongs but in which the shadow is not darkness, deficiency is not defeat, trouble cannot degenerate into tragedy and infinite melancholy is ultimately forced to claim undisputed sway... Mozart causes us to hear that even on the latter side, and therefore in its totality creation praises its master and is therefore perfect.
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