Full Text for Christology as a Problem in our Day (Text)

THE SPRINGFIELDER June 1971 Volume 35, Number 1 Christology As A Problem In Our Day \\..II.TER KL-NSETH, Erlangen, Germany 0 C f< (1'ESERriL I'OPIC "Christologv as a Problenl in our Day" is collcerned with central assertions'of Christian confession and thus of faith in Christ. But \\-hat does tl~at mean talay? If I see things corrcctl\., then we can onlv face up to this question properly bv first attenll;ting to clarify what the controversial and ambiguous term "C:hristian falth" rcnlly means today. I11 doing this, it dare not he 01 crlookcd that C'Ilri.rtologv and faith must be seen in a correspond- ing relatioil to one allother. Thcrcforc we must make ever!. effort at thc outsct to c.liniin~te misinterpretations that n.ould dl too easily Icncl us in the n.rong direction. . 'l'hc. problem of "Christology in Our Da!." becollles focally acute in the propcr concept aid understnnding of faith. Accordingl!.. we start \~.itll a delimitation against a double inisunderstanding. 1. There is an intcrpretatioi~ of faith that understands "faith" as thc ackno~vleclgen~ent of a certain numbcr of confessional state- ments. 111 this case, "faith" means saving , .. Yes to a sum of Christo- logical statt~n~cnts ant1 claims that are riccepted as 3 wllole and are lookcd upon as 1-alid, \r.itllout real personal claim on onesclf. Such faith regards as true certain extraordinar!. events expresseci by tradi- tional church doctrine. In this case faith becomes a quantitative entity \\-here people ask "\\'hat must I believe? \{%at all is part of the things I must believe?" \\'ith this understanding of faith, the faith of the Refomlation \vould be a reduction of the Ronlan Catholic n~eclie\-a1 faith, arrived at bv means of a subtraction. Accordingly thc Protestant is a ~hristian who is obligated to believe less than the C:atholic, of \\-horn less is demanded; with this type of thinking, he is a pcrson who needs to believe less. 2. This objective, quantitative thinking about faith is opposed today by a totallv different phel~omenon, \vhich also must equally be recognized as a misinterpretation. \\'e are concerned here with the purely fornlal concept of faith, i.e., nli th a specifically existential basic attitude of man that renounces definite content. Thus the reaction to the cji~antative understanding of faith puts the accent on faith's deter~nining qualitv. Faith understood in this way is there- fore a present c\.cnt here and now. It is only an interpretation of one's Professor Ii'aIter Kli?l??eth, Th. D., D. D. is professor for Systemntics at the University of Erlnnpe9t cz~rd is rec,ognized ii~idel~ ns the outstanding critic of tke Bultmannian school's method of rotnbining r~istentialism nnd demythologizing. Ife became prominent at a d~hutr. ht31tf ivith Professor Ernst Furhs of the University of Marburg in the 1960's. Kunneth held to nrl octzrul, real or physical recttrrertio?~ of Jeszcs, while Fuchs, a disciple of IJuItrnn?ln, gotre the existential interpretation. A founder of the conservative urrd pietistic movement So OTHER GOSPEL (KEIN ANDERES EVANGELIUM), he has con- tinlied as its leading light. ?te is also n signer of the FRANKFURT DECLARATION, a protest nguinst unir.rrsnlism, it*lriclr is a concomitant of the denial of the supernatural and mirarulous in rontempornry theology. In this essay, delivered at the German-Scandinavian ThcoIogical Confrrence in 1968, Ize points to the faulty concept of faith held by prominent Neu~ Testament scholars. personal existence and of a new sclf-unclcrstallcling. This is its sole interest. This faith is opposed to an); objectivity. To put it ;\not hcr way, it is opposed to historicizing the objecti\;e contc~its of faith. Of course, now the question must needs arise ~vhcthcr faith in this casc is still in a position to lilake definite statemcllts abo~~t ol)jcc,ti\.c contents or whethcr it is satisfied with formall!. circumscribing man- ners of faithful coliduct. Faith would then bc "being upell for God, for fellow man, for whatever comes to me." It \voulcl be i\ttc.nti\cl! listening to the \\Torcl that now and then comcs to nlc. It is con- cerned with taking a responsible attitude over against \.arious and always changing situations. This kind of faith rcf~lses to 111i1kt. con- crete statements about content. This concept of faith li110i\-s no doctrine, no fixed creed that expresses with c1cfiiiitc.ncss \\.hat f~iith believes. It is onlv in subjective Ivay, in nctli, in the coclrsc of c.\.cnts, that faith can knok what is obligatory for the bclie\,cr. \iTe lilust keep in nlin(1 thesc tn.0 ways of untlcrstallditlg faith, as we now procced to the problem of Christology. Ovcr against these two typical niisinterpretations ivc must now point oitt that n-hich makes Christology what it is, and in so doing n.c n.il1 bc iclcntif! ing the syecificli~r~ christia~itint of Biblical Reformation faith. In \\.hat way must we identify the substance and structure of christolog!. Inorc clearly? \ire start with the first basic thought: PART I The Theologicnl L7~zderstatzdirzg of Faith in Cjr rist I should like to delineate more carefully our gcbneral topic by making assertions tlevelopetl along t\iro lines. First I\ e enquire al~out the hnsis OH zirhich faith origillntes (E~t~tekzi~lgsgrli~ld). In contrast to the two misinterpretations of faith sketched abo~ c, the q~1antitatii.c and the formalistic, the characteristic trait of faith in Christ, accortl- ing to tlle understanding of thc New Testament, milst be seen as follows: Faith docs not represent an independent, autonomous cjuan- tity, a quantity that ordains what is to be belicvetl, rather faith li~cs from the fact that its event has already taken placc. This elent thc NT calls n~~oknl~~~sis, revelation, the removal of a vcil, unveiling,. it is concerned with the unveiling of the l~tegaleirr toll theoll, ot the great deeds of God. Gal. 1: 16, 1 Cor. 2:9, Rom. 1: 17, Acts 2: 11 together with countless other passages present this case of the mnttc.r. The background, the prerequisite 'and thus the hnsis that faith's ori in lies in sonle reality extra honzinem, outside of man, in the f rea ity that God, whose revelation occurred concretely in Jesus Christ and who has spoken in the realm of human history (Heb. 1 : 1 ). -That certainly is the basis for ejrerything! God spoke and acted. Gocl intervened. Not long ago, in a discussion with leriding theologians of our time, I was told: If 1 wcre to speak of God's intervention I would be using pagan language. The conception of God's intcrven- tion was pagan. I am of the opinion that it is a genuinely Christian way of thinking. But "event" does not refer to a general truth, to an idea, rather it refcrs to a concrete historical reality in a definite locale, at a definite point of time in the history of humanit). In sclf- ~nanif'cstation of the hitlclc~l God He becomcs Detrs revelatus, the rc\.caaled God, tllc Cod close to us. IIc concentrates in the reality of the Ir~c~rrr-~~at~i.s, ot' I-li~n ~vllo bccarne flesh, of the Crucifisils, of the Hcsnrr~~~.tris, of thc I\jsen One. This is the heart, the center, the culmi~i;~rion, tllc~ pi\.ot point of all revelation of God. 13ut there is still another factor: certain men were cIra\\ill into this re\.cl;~tion-c\.~~~ t ill Ilislory. h.len were affected by this event of vncountcr \\.it11 God. Thc revelation-event rcsults first in faith, the faith of pcol>lc~ o\ cr\vl~eln~ed by the revelation of God. The second rcsult is tl~c nlchss;l(lc of thosc. people. Therefore the \vitness of the h ST-;rnd 1 saj th~s in strict opposition to Bultnlann-is a message of sonlctlling, about somcthil~g. It is report, announcement, procla- mation of \vllat Got1 lias done for us. 3lediunl ant1 means for the . . iirlslng 01' fi~ith thcrcforc is thc revelation-nlessage. For that the eye- \\-iti~csscs arc' of fuilrlamcntnl sinnificancc. According to the XT b. then, C:lll-istinn faith hi~s its historical origin ant1 starting-point in :In :\ct of lit*i~ring rtntl sccil~g iln~l in being actuallv there. On thesc alone, faith ilntl its ~~rocli~mnt ion are based. \\'itlloht the Risen One haying 11cc11 seen, I\-itlioi~t His r~ppcaranccs-ancl people do not like to hcar such things totl;l!--tliel-r. \vould be 110 earl!. Christian (urchristlic.J1) faith. 'The c~nl-thl\. Jcsus as such-or using another term \vhich is cli~itc c~i~vstio~~al~lc', "tlic historical Jesus"-the cross by itself, could ne\,c.i- 1)c. the Ilistoric'i~l impulsc of faith. The early Christi311 \vitness ! L'r-:c~~r~ui.s 1 thi~t ilsakcrls faith tllcreforc is: orltoc egertlr e, 'The I-onl-trul!. risen and seen by Sill~on.~' Here I could cite a 11umber of pass;igcs, but \\.ith a i7ie\v to the space a\.aiable I shall forego tloing so. 111 the S1' \\.c arc dealing therefore-if I ma!, for~nulatc it this \I-;)!-- \\~i th specific fitcts of a matter, with actual reality. The deci- si\.c factor in tlic arising of faith is this realit!.. Thus we point out \\.ithou t all\. cclu i\ocation : Faith is totall!. dependent on rc\.elation *~ 7 ha\-illg talien place. I hcrcforc thc content of this faith is strictly tlcfinetf. Filith's life dcpends on the definite substance it contains. Tllc c\-cnt of t';~ith points to another cvent. Faith is directed to\\.ards this point of rcfcrencc, to 017~ central point; it is \\.ithout an;dog!;, ne\.erthclcss it is i~ l~cl-sonal, celltral point of refercncc. Faith is clircctc.tl to\\.i~rcls God re\*c~aled and prcsent in Christ, to the li\.ing li!.~-io.i 1c.iorl.s CII ~istos (Rom. 10 : 9). It becomcs clcar prcciselv at this 1x)int: Hc, the Crucified, is identical ~ith the earthly Jcsus c~ntl at the sanlc tilnc \\.ith the Riscn Onc. 'Therefore faith is \,itally and i~~.tIt'~~tl!. intcrcstetl in these salvation cvcnts (1leilsereigllis.se) in histor!-. 1'01- all\' f~trthcr dialogue and discussion in our day it is ncbccssal.!. to fight thc decisive battle on this point. Did something reall\- talic. place? Or did nothing happen? Did everything remain as it \\.;1$? 110 \\.c mc:rely have all sorts of religious-ethical inlpres- sions ant1 notiotls, helicfs, attitudes of piety? Or did something oc\cllr? If this is so, thcn e\,ervthing depends on the reliability of thcsc \I itnc>sses of the faith. ~t-~.c~ould be a disastrous perversion of faith if onc wcrc to conelude that everything had its origin in the c;rrIj. Cllt-isti3n c~~i~mu~lit\'s (Gemci~rde) faith as it rcflccted on itself. It is clainled by those who follon. this yrocedurc that thc assertion of the resurrection of Jesus \vas invcntecl ;it a later clatcl. This \\ oi~l(l t)c3 an inversion of cause and effect. \\'hat really is C~c~~/t~iitrft~tlr~~o!og~t~~ An anonymous quantit).. I11 a direct way I cnnnot find ;1n) thing of - 7 it in my NT. Perhaps C~rnlei~zrlet~zeoIogie is a iiiodcrn rn!'th?! 1 Iic early Christian coniinunity itself n.ould becoiiie thc sourcc of I-(,\ c'lll- tion. But the faith of the com~iiunity is, accorcliilg to the XI-'. 11ot the origin but the result of the Easter occurrencc. It is the fruit of a revelation e\:eiit. The community is founded on thc actual rcsur- rection and from that results its faith. Thus faith is unclcrstotxl as response ant1 as reflection of the preceding sa\.ing acti\.it\. (llcilclririr- delrz) of Gal. \Vith this presupposition in mind, Christian faith can c.sl,~-css with all clarity what it belic\.cs (Acts 2:42). Faith is not s~~hlin~itcbcl in enthusiastic tongue spcaking or in theological st:lmn,c~rings. Solllc claim that one cannot knon- things ex:ictly, or-ns so11ie rc~pc'atc~cll!. like to assure us- that genuine faitli is proveil l~rc~c~iscly in ~~iiucr- tainty, in the state of doubt, in \.ulnerability. 111 the final annl\.sis everything is supposed to remain ;In opcn question. I'istic, "f;iithV in the XT, is ah\-ays illso gilosis, kno\vlcdge: "\\'c llnvc hclic\ c~l ;incl have come to kno\v!" Or ho\v about that mar\.cllous form~~li~tio~l ill Romans 8: 38, "For 1 am sure!" Faith is ccrtaint!., certitrrrlo: 11ot 11 lazy, impotent ser~rritns, self-contentment that is nl\vn!,s looking tor crutches. Such an understanding of faith has consc.qucnccs. I thinli I am theologically justified to point no\\. to thc unit!. and uongruit\ of the olcl dog~natic distinctions. Onc cannot pla!- off thest' cliffc;-cnt concepts, of which the Reformation also mndc ~lsc, ilgainst o~~c another. They represent a unit),. Faith is aln.a\.s also ~iotitilr Ilis- torica. Faith must ha1.e heard sonlcthing. It must line\\. somcthiiig. \j7ithout ilotitia Iristoricn there is no Christian faith. Scco~idl\., faith is always also, as tlie olcl theologians fori~~ulat~cl it, nssel/,srrs, thc ackno\vledgenicn t that this 11-itness has validi t\. pro rue, for nlc. a claim to commitnient. :!long \vith these two ~m1~hascs there is an inseparable third elenicnt: Faith is always fidlrcirr. It is ~~~r~o~ii~l and trusting \vith total commitment to thc revenlcd Gocl. If \ve want to make legitimate assertio~ls about christology, \I-c 111ust hc mindful of the situation in which the faith in Christ originatccl. The second assertion unclcr our first basic thought 111ust be considered. Besides the situation in ~vhicli faitli originntcs, 11.~ ilre faced \\.it11 tlze sitz~ntioll ill ~r*hich a decision is rerllrirrrl (JZl~ts~'hci(i- zcngssitzuztioll). The \\,itness of re\*elation, Christolog).'~ \,er\ niatter, lays claims on the individual. A decision is dc;nondcd. Fundn- mentally there arc t\vo possibj1itic.s of confronting this \\.itrlcss to Christ and taliing a position on it. Tlze First Possibilit~,: Faith can be esplaiiietl aiitl~rolmlogically as an aspect in the philosoplir of i~~liiianencc. This \%!a- classifies all revelatory assertions dealing'~rith salvation c~ciits as only horizontal in dimension. They happen only within the world, on tlie historical plain. llestrictil~g faith only to thc horizontal has far-reaching con- scqLlc!Ilccs. I'lc\~cl;ition of (I;cxl as ;l rcal breaking through, as a ~lot~unz, as an occurrcncc th;-it 1i;ls nu\-cr takcn place before, as an extra-ordinary e\-cnt, is funcliilncnti\lly iml>ossible for those who hold to this closed s),stcn~ r~~lilittctl 111. ti~iic rind space. For such there is no ineans of \.? '11 -sf \ .' Ing ;i rc\.cblation, i.c. il reality outside of our existence. \'l'hat- c1.c.r tlocs not. h;ippc.n in our \\;o;ld of historical events cannot be l>ro\.cn to bc truc for ~JICIII. Thus causality, i.e. the new, pure, inln~;~l~cnt u~~dc~-standing of reality in this instance, bec-onies do111- innnt ;IS tlic rlc\\. doglna of ho\\- \\.e are to look upon all things (~1~eltcl~1scha~4lic~~1cs Dog~un). \\‘bile the traditional doctrines of the Church arc c~li~niniitcd, rejcctcd or given a new interpretation, a ne\v clognla nriscs. :Iccorcling to this clogma, the closed s!.stem of time -iind spaccb, b;~sic to histoi-icnl-critical research, is set up as ha\.ing al)solutc. a11d csrlusi\~c \didit?. All historical processes are subject, tl~~rcfore, to tlicb c.ontro1 and sta~ldarcls of criticism, analogy, cnusalit!;, corrclatioi~. 'This has bccn the basic dogma since the day of Ernst 'rrocltsch. In this, ho\\-c\.cr, there is something of immense sig- nificarlcc, ill1 itfeological decision (~i~eltn~tschn~iliche Vore~~tschcid- zrrzgj of con~itl~rable sigliificarice has been made a priori. \\'hat arc thc cffccts on christology if this immanence, the "tl~is-\\.orltl-o~~l\." i\spcct is proclaimecl as absolutcl\, csclusively t.;~licl? First, thc. XT assertions can only claiin historical credibility insofar as tl~c!. c.nn bc pro\.en to be conceivable and possible according to thc standilrd of thc rational, thc psychological, and of the cbnviron- mentill. All christological conclusions can bc nladc, therefore, only in thc rcb~iln~ of tlie historically conlparable and unclcrstandable. The gcnc~ral lmstuliition therefore is that Tcsus \\.as human, nothing but l~un~nn, a~id Hc. could not have been ;ulything else. Here we could citc uncountc(1 cjuotations. Perhaps one saying is rather instructive: "'Tlic CI~ristian message is not directcd to\vard solllcthing in tlie great Uc.!-ol~tl, for Jcsus \\.as a social rc\~olutionary." As i3 consequence of this sccul~iriri~~g tllcology, Gocl and Christ stand as represcntationa1 chiiractcrs for thc sl~iired humanity. 'That is \\-liv faith in Christ-if indcctl I\-c Ci311 makc usc of this term no\\- in a meaningful ivay-can bc put illto language only in the categories of historical immanence. Secondly, n,c. Ila\.e to he clear about what this means for the \vitlicss to Christ. E\.crything metahistorical, everything going be- yond histor\., the transcendent, the miracuIous, everything bursting or supcrsc(1ing thC horizon of historical understanding, must be con- signcxl to the rca1r11 of the legendary and to n~vthological conception. This is not :I ncrcssnr) result demanded by the text nor because of clcfucti\.c doc~~nicnts. It is a result of a preconceived ideological conviction (1i~eltar~sc71rrl~liche Ueherzetigrllzg). This resuIts in the \\.ell known thesis of "the mythological accretion of the Ne~v Testa- nlcnt," a characteristic point of unity for all existential theologians. But tllc focal points of apostolic proclamation-incarnation, atone- ment death and sacrifice, resurrection of Jesus, His claim to absolute authority, but certainly also miracles, l~reexistcnce, lxiro~~hi,~ - 111~ist collapse, if the canons of reality as established b!, suc11 tl~cologi~~~~s ii to be connected with them. There is a Secolld Possibility. It must be seen likc this: I'llc situation into which faith in Christ puts us and demands a tlcc.ision from us can also receive n quite different response. For thc possibil- ity exists-and that is equally concei~!able- to rccogni/c tllc i tl~~ss to Christ in thc l>crspective of faith itself and to makc ;In! juclgnlcnts from that perspecti\,e. The follo\\k~g argumcnts cannot be igl~orcd. As in the case of the anthropological vic\vlwint, so we must I~c.rcl ralic note of an a priori decision. \I7ith what n priot-i tlccisioi~ arc \\c dealing? Faith is precedcd by an axiom, an ultimate and no lonyr provable principle that goes bcforc an! attcmptetl demo~~str;~tioi~. One foundation, one cornerstone has been laitl oncc ant[ for all (I Cor. 3: 11; I Peter 2:4-8). Onc can deal \\.it11 the c;~rl!. ('11ristiiln eIenlentary message, "He is truly risen!" only b!. lctting our~.l\-cs 1)c told it, listening to it, accepting it, speaking thu 1'c.s of faith to it. or on the other hand, by rejcctiilg this ne\vs as absurtl ant1 sa!,i~ig So. Already early Christentlom kneiv of many who ~\.c.nt to pieces on this cornerstone. Axioms cannot be proven, but the!, can be :lcccll>tc~cl. Their evidence and their persuasive po~ver are tlcn~onstrat~d in the verification and confirmation of precisely this premise. \\.I t11 t11 is axiomatic presupposition the conclusion is : God in Jesus C'l~rist rcalIy inter\,ened in the course of the world. There is real rt.\ rxIation. a change of situation! If Got1 were actually at \\,orli, thc*n of coursc~. as a matter of principle, the anthropological-historim1 ci~tcgoric~s of in~manc.nce and a closed system do not suffice for grasping tllC rc\ cxla- tion-even t. Then our understanding of reality provcs to l>c i~~s~~fi- cient, untenable, ant1 c\.cn nothing. \\'e r11'ust take notc' of the folloiving : I. \\'hat appears in the hew Tcstamcnt as the. traiisccn(lc~it. the di\.inc, thc irrational, the nictahistorical, or \i.i~:~t is rc~l~ortctl as miracle-of coursc the rcsurrcction of Jesus is at tllc \.cr! c'c>ntcr- this is the intrinsic chari~cteristic of the revealctl Gocl, Derrs I-['I-~1~1tr1.s. The elimination or any chanoc in the interpretation of tl~cse tcsti- ? monies 111~ist h3i.e catastrophic consequences. \\'hen thCsc 111il-ac- ulous events are judgctl to he "mythos," "invthological ~i)~l~cl)ts," "legendary details," thc essential element itself *is destro~~c.tl. 2. Jesus of Xarareth can therefore neler bc tliouyht of onl! ;is true man on the liorizontal level of the historical. llathcr he 111ust be regarded simultaneously in the ~Yertical pcrspccti\cs as IIc n ho comes from God, as the true God. Thus the historical I-cnlit\ of Jesus represents something like the interscctioil of t\\o tlilllcnsi'ons, of the hurnan-historical and of the di~rine-suprahistorical (giitt1ic.h- iibergescilichtlicl~). It is just this identity of the t\vo assertions "man and Gocl at the same time" that is essential for basic christological understanding. Let us recall the syn~pton~atic asscrtioils of the jutl~c- ment arrived at by the people of early Christentlom's cnvironmcnt, John 6: 32-"Surely this is Jesus son of Joseph; we know his father nnd nlother. llo\\: can hc no\\: say: "I lia\re come do\vn from heaven"?" And on the otlicr lla~ltl Alatthe\\: 16: 15-"You are the R!lessiah, the Son of' tlic Jiving God." These t\\.o assertions belong together. They stand in utnlost tension to\\.ard one another, but they for111 an inner ~lllit\,. 3. Accordingly \vc arc then dealing with the authentic and t~incli~lg force of this siutation in \\.hicli a decision is required. "\i7ho do men sn!, that I ~m?" (AIattlie~\r 16: 13) From the view of the clecisioli of faith this mcans: 'The confrontation with Jesus Christ is ill the decpcst scme confrontation \\.it11 God. This can be nothing else tlliin confrontation \\.it11 Jesus Christ the Lord. Faith in Jesus Christ thercforc bcco~nes identical to faith in God Hilnself. Christ- olog!- is tl~us ill its nnture theology, and vice versa, theology is basicallv I\lio\\-lcdgc of C'llrist. But this faith in Christ is not faith in the ~~~itiics?; to C:lirist, but tirrolrgiz this 21.iti1ess faith ill tlze Ziz~ilrg L.ot-ll. '1-1111s faith ill Christ is realized in its nature in personal relationship \\-hicl~ t(~lil\. is coiit~.o\~crsial and even denied, in thc I-Thou relation- shi 13, 111 it dialogical ~~liiti~n. Thc historical (l~istoris~'I~, gesclzicllt- licI~;, l'i\rtl\l\. . . Icsu:; is the crucificd and i~t the samc time the li\.ing kjr-ios, who is prescnt. Therefore the classic test for thc proper ~llidcrstanding of faith in Christ is pravil~g to Christ. 4. 'This ;~spc~ct of faith then diskloses thc funtlamental justifi- cation for, ;\lit1 ;ilso the linij tation of I~istorical-cri ticill rcscarcli. I:e\-cl;~tion occurs \\.jtliin the bounds of Ilistor!.; it 1)econles possible and ncccssar? to prohe into the historical deposition of these e\,cnts lvitli a11 the Incans of historical reason. Hut i~t thc same time it nus st be rcalirctl that no matter ho\v csactl!. this rcscarcli metli~l is cn~l>lo!.cd, it ~ni~st flounder on tIie ~-c\.claticm dimension itsclf. The Cll~rist-c\,ent as rc\-clation cvaclcs any rational grasp. It was that nay cluril~g Jcsus' Jifc-time ns it is no\\.. Actual re\.elation is never clcl,c~itlcnt upon tllc variable, unsure rcsi~lts of the research instru- ~licnt. \\-ere that thc case, then Luther could not liavc recognjzed the possibilit, of a lcgitilnatc interpretation of the Scriptures. 1';lllT I1 :I-llc '1-lrcvlogic.al lAnzlgztnge Forr~i of Clzristolog): klcre too j1.e find dc\.-elopments rllong tiyo lines-thoug11 I Inay not \ilt he nblc to driw then1 to a conclusion. 1. \\'c iIrc dcnling ~vitli the problem of in \\-hat form faith in C:lirist cspresscs itself. Faith made possible by the witness to Christ cannot rcniain silcnt, it needs to be expressed. How this is done is important. E;ai th's esprcssion is not inconsequential. El-en this in\-o11.c~ its authenticity and its deriving from God. Not cvery form of 1i111guagc can do justice to what God's revelation intends. There are forms of cspression which ;Ire not reconciIable with the reaIity of re\.elation, as solne for~ns darken, retouch or distort. Let LIS co11sidc.r the following. Christological language niakes faith possible, a\\-iikens it and deepens it. Thus we are dealing ~i-ith a n.rj tten u.itness, a comment on what took place. The charac- teristics of this \\.ritten witness insist that in the Christ-event, the Incarnate, the Crucified ;~nd the Risen Oil~' ;]I-c the: S;IIIIC pcrso11. This is a very specific and definite content, ;I content witho~~t- an'llogy. Jesus' awareness of His own authority cannot he co~~~parctl \\.it11 that of other men. It is not thc ajvareness \\.hiCh the prol)licts 11:ltl ot' their mission. Jesus had an ~~nderstanding of I-Iis s~lil'cri~~g ant[ cleat11 peculiar to Himself. The yersonhooci ant1 thc nc\\. pi~cun~atic>- corporeal realitv of thc Risen One are real. \I-hcrc. COLII(I tllcrc. 1)c an analogy in history to the realm of the dcad? pI'llc Christ-c,\cnt as a revelatory event is the imparting of a 11c\\. concrctc. rcalitv. Christology al\vavs involves the uility of reality and truth, of ~\~i;t and interpretation. There must be harmon!, I)ct\\.ccn thC IZastcr event and the message \\.hi& is the primary jvitncss to it. ('o~~siclcrcd historically, this is done bv taking o\.er and using coiltcn~l)orar\. coil- cepts available then. HO\; clsc coultJ it lial)pen? Suc11 contcrnporaly ideas about the \\.orld \\ere either Israelite or I-Icllcnistic. I Icrc: arc such concepts : Logos, \\'ord; Sotcr, Sa\,iour; lill-ios, 120rd; ri glitcous- ness; reconciliation; high priest; Lamb of God: I~Ic ga\-c Hill1 up; resurrection; etc. The following clcmcnts can 1)c. notctl al)out tllcsc concepts. a) The choice of concepts, namcs, inlagcls ;~nci coi~ip,~risoiis is niade in the interpretati\re reflesion of those \\.ho trcre inlmctliatc~l\ invol\red with the first witness of the Risen Onc. Thc origiili~l rcport of the eyewitnesses awakens faith to consciousness :111cl hrings al~o~it and gives it form. b) This does not mean, l~o\vever, that the \vitncss to Christ is by itself a subsequent interpretation of thc faith, or that it rcprcscnts a product of the reflexion. In other \vords, it is not that the Christiiin comn~unity subsequently invented a11 these di\-ine titles lI-iollt~it.\titclj and then, justly or ~injustly, conferred them on Jcsus. I:athc,r this was the situation, that all of Christologv is nlrcndy 1~rcsCnt ill 1ll1c.c in confrontation with thc person of ~hrisi. Tlicreforc t-hc s~ihsecluc~nt interpretation represents onlv an unfolding, a ~ncntal csplicntion of this unique, incomparable e\.ent of the reality of Gotl's rcvc~latio~l in Christ. c) Thc usc of ancient contemporary Tc\\,isli cnnccljtw~llc.;l~~s at the same time thcir transfomiation and ;cc.asting. 'I'llat co~il~l not have been otherwise, for \vc are, after all, dealing \\.it11 ;I coin- pletely new content, a content jvhich cxcludcs prc\.ious contents, a content which hursts tIlc pre\-ailing traditional fraiiic of lnng~~agc. Thus the deniythologizing of concepts and notion takes placc rcall\- within the New Testament itsclf. Old terms, namcs, concclpts, notions are fitted out to be bearers of revelation. That is \vhy thcse words and concepts no longer express the same mcaning thcy 11:ltl in Judaisn~ or in the Qumran community or in FIcllenism. Froni this context there arises for theology and proclnmntion thc task of an ever new translation of terms. The process of translation, of putting into modern terms dare not, ho\\:ever, lead to a change of thc content matter. Therefore a false accommodation \vhich falsifies tllc contcnt for the world around us to make it understandable, lllust bc a~oided. We are dealing here solely with the criterion of suitability. \\'e mu5t c.onst,lntl? ,IS~ wvliich concept, which manner of expression is rlblc i~cc'i~ri~tcl! to rcflcct the central content. Of course, as theo- logi,~ns ww~ linen. only too well, all concepts arc encumbered with tlic- mortplgc, as it \\ere, of the profane philosophical use of language. r 7 I hcrcforc no p,lrticulnr l~l~ilosopliical materials can hold a monopoIy position. \\ e do not see ww.11~ only existentialist philosophical ternls shot~ld twl:~y Iwocss theoloiical relevance in contradistinction to carliclr nlctaph\,sical terms. A theological method can be objective o11l\. as ;In ccclectic attempt or as selection, or when it attempts to brenk out of the cjuarry of the histor!, of ideas the usable material. 13asicallj. there can be a free choice in formdating christological language. Thcrc is also a limitation, a circumscription because of thC ncccssit! to rctr;~nsl;ite into the form of expression employed b\l t11c AT ww.itncss. \\.ithin this witness we meet with inexchangc- nt~lc, unicluc " C'I-11.c;~-te," that is, words which in the final analysis cannot I)c scpnrtccl t'ro111 their substance, which arc identical with their contc~i t. "L'r-ll.or-tc" espress the \.cry nature of re\relation itself; wvc cannot tlo ww.itl~oiit then). Some examples w\lould be: ,leslis Christ, cross, r~>c-o~~r,ilintiolz, reszrrrectio~l, creator, Fnther, Lord, to nnmc onlv n \.c.r\- few$-. CertainIy these concepts must bc translated, but thew ;;re' not Lcl~an~able. A funda~nental relinquishing. a 1t.w'eling of thcsk concepts to 1)icrc s!~mbolic signs, to mere interpretations, \voi~ld destro~ the reality of revelation at a decisiwre pint. 2. \\'it11 all speed I come to a consideration of our second line of tliought w\-hich w1.c must consider in the problem of language. \\-it11 the ;lhovc prow isions wwc I~ILIS~ look through the errors of the forniula- tion of lang~~ilgc in csistcntialist theologv. In our moction of Cfirist is subjected to a process of total reiilterpretatiorl. Htw too il dissolu- tion of an ci9ent of cardinal importance into its ;lppare~lt prcscnt significance. -4 great many \vords of svnonymous quillit\. :ire ilt our disposal. Here too it is said that believing thC rc%surrcction is to know that the cause of Christ goes on. The religious broadcaster \\7ilhelm Schmidt has esprcsscd this most sharply and unmistakab1~--so~llething \vc cannot sa!. of all present-da! theologians. His juclgeinent \\.as that Cllristian ~>rcacli- ing in the modern age is in troublc because it clings to thc ole1 Christology. The christological statttillents simpl! arc. no longcr prrect in co~lnection \\-it11 our irnyro\-ed I;no\~lcclge of ilnturc. Ilut one thing reinains: "\Ian is nlan not as tllc risrll and csaltrd 1-ord. but as being dead and vet cffccti\.c." That is tlic ultimate iund clear consequence of this tht.olog! of inimancncc. The end result of this hasicall! false attcnipt niust be scCli in the follo~~ing effects. \\-e are confrorltecl h! a rlucstio~~ing 'ind denial of what rvr mean in sa!.ing, that Jesus is God. Tl~is dc~liill is made identical with the failure ot God's re\.elation itself. It means nothing less than thc questioning of Gocl as a re~calcd God. Here is a summary of the res~~lts of our study. 1. Christology shows us the t\\-o-diillc~isionalit\. of C:hrist's redit!. as a re\.elation-event within the realm of histor\'. Thcrcforc we must alivays makc tn.0 ilssertions at the samc tjii~e, nsicrtinns n.hic.11 express a paradox that cannot rationally, cognitionall\ he :tnal\./cd: Jesus Christ the Lortl, true man and true God. ~1.k confessional decision of the Christian Church has anslvered this \vitness to Christ in the classic formulation, Irere ~OJPLO et rcre Dells. Xgai~l 1i.e recognize, this is not the 1)rduct of the ideologv of any one era or of philosophy or of theological reflexion. ~atlkr the content of this assertion is already part of the Christ-event itself. Of course, thc cjllcstion ins\. ilrisc \\hcther the traditional form of the christoIogical confcssjon o'f the Church expects too iiiiicli of or can still be useful to "inodcrii 111an." I 11-ould ans\vur, tliat in the final analysis we arc. clcali~l~ llerc i~ot with tlie problcm of language but with tlie c:slwcssion of substnncc. This expressi~n of substance is exemplified in tllc q~~c\;tion \\.liich js as ~alid today as it w:is 2,000 years ago: \\'llat. js JCSLIS for !~LI? So new formulntioii, no matter ho\v cleverly arl-i\ctl ;it, ci111 free. us fro111 making the ultimate decision. Here we :~rc dt,aling \\-it11 ;\ realit!. of substance. 2. It is prcciscll!. this paratlosical intensification of the clirist- ological s~~bstailcc \\.hich liiarks tlic appropriateness of this vessel as n theologicalIv legitimate form of la~igungc. In this ~essel the content of rc\.clation. 011 \\-hic11 e\.cr\~tliing depends, is uiicquivocallv pre- scr\-cd. :In) brclaliiug of this for111 means some loss of content, a tlcforniil tioii of substaiice, a corruption of the fnith itself. Of course \\cb need translation into familiar ter~lis. Ccrtaiiil!, 1i.e need iiiterpre- tation. Ilut if \\ c. corrupt the substai~cc 1>\. usiiig concepts ill which the1 substiiiic,c is no longer transparciit or tloes not clear]\, shine tliro~~gli, the11 the rcsillt will be wllnt \Ye sCc so shockingly before us totla!.. naincl\. cliristcllogical traged!,. 3. C'ch~-ti~inl\ \\ ith the mere recitation of old coilfessional statc- ii~c~its \\c h,i\ c. g,iined nothing. I\-c hn1.e been challengecl to act kcr!gmatic,~ll\,, l~roclamationally, pastorally ancl with a sc~ise of mis- sion. But in'this. too, it is iniporta~it to hold fast to tlic tcnsion: .\Ian 'iiid C;ocl, the li\ i~ig true Gocl in man. It is indeed our task to say tlli4 to iliodcri1 IiiLm SO tliat lie nlight ~lliderstalld it. -I. \\'hat docs it realIy mean \\.hen we speak of "trying to iiiake thiligs more clear"? Here we should remember a t\\:ofolcl distinctioli: a) .\lakin: things more clear means tliat ail!. man might, \\ith ortlinar\ prcsupl~ositions, come to see \\-hat is meant, \\-hat assertions proclamation niakes. The prerequisite for being able to iriiclcrstn~id is the solidarity of being man, the unity of the human spirit, tlic uiiit\. of: inan's thought patterns. The prerequisites are also Ixisic huiiiiin cjucstions and the human dileinnia. That is to say, \ire iilrlst clo c\,cr\.thi~ig that the mail of toclay miglit ur~clerstand \vhat \ire Illcan \\-hen \\.c enunciate the li1essage of Christ. 11akiiig this clear is our task ant1 cluty. b) But \\.e must guarcl against the kincl of clarification that niakcs tlic iitteinpt to explain something rationally or to prove or clcinonstratc somc~thiiig. Such an attcmpt goes beyond the linlits. TTl~c cli~~~ciision of clivine dealings raiscs a \~arning here: Rationally \ye can~iot enter illto the mvstery of God's revelation. I\'herc the rc\.c.lntion of Goel takes place in Jesus Christ \\.c are always con- fro~~ted-thc~i ;inti no\v--by a skn~lrlalo~~, by a ~r~oria, a rational ahsurtlity. I\-e cannot grasp that. Tllt.refo~-e faith at all times, then as no\\, for Luther and for our tinlc, must go through the realm of trials, must fight through thesc trials, until we eyer anew arrive at the confession: "illy Lord a/1d ?fly God.''