There are two strands of theology’s utility.
First of all, theology is like all pursuits. It is a means through which you are going to find happiness (eudaimonia/summum bonum).
Money and power make most people happy, as money stands for physical comfort, and power is linked with the sense of achievement and the mark of one’s existential/relational status.
Game and competition make people happy, as they build up what is consisting of humanity from the natural perspective.
Leisure and arts make people happy.
So should theology (or Christianity).
If theology/Christianity is not bringing people happiness, we must ask why.
If our theological education is not something to enjoy for students and hence is not equipping students to be the catalyst for the happiness in this world, we must ask why.
I figure one of our major challenge now is that we ministers are not acting like messengers of joyfulness, lest we should bring this joy to fellow believers, comforts to this troubled world like comforters, and true wisdom to this perplexed generation like counselors.
You get this? Where is your power of joy oh those of you who bury your heads in the desks of the theological academy?
And second, theology is not like all other worldly pursuits. it’s going to bring glory to God. We must preach God’s holiness. Give Him everything we owe Him.
Malachi 1:6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master; if then I be a father, where is My honour? and if I be a master, where is My fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise My name. And ye say: ‘Wherein have we despised Thy name?’
Malachi 1:8 aWhen you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts.
Malachi 1:9 And now, I pray you, entreat the favour of God that He may be gracious unto us! – This hath been of your doing. – Will He accept any of your persons? saith the LORD of hosts.
Malachi 1:10 Oh that there were even one among you that would shut the doors, that ye might not kindle fire on Mine altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand.
Malachi 1:11 For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same My name is great among the nations; and in every place offerings are presented unto My name, even pure oblations; for My name is great among the nations, saith the LORD of hosts.
And convict people of their waywardness; turn them from their old ways to God’s presence!
We must reflect God’s image as angels/messengers that sing ‘holy, holy, holy!’
With boldness and courage. Without shame and irresolution.
Phi 3:13,14 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Joh 17:24 « Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they can see my glory that you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
2Ti 1:12 Because of this, in fact, I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, because I know the one in whom my faith is set and I am convinced that he is able to protect what has been entrusted to me until that day.
1Co 9:24,25 Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize? So run to win. Each competitor must exercise self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.
Heb 12:1,2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
That being said, the theological pursuit of happiness and holiness is not going to be my new year resolution. That sounds too ‘manly’ and not ‘godly’. For me, there is only a humble prayer in my heart: God, be with me, and work this out in me, who is willing to sacrifice and burn for you.
巴特和他的學生、私人秘書兼助理可茲包慕（Charlotte von Kirschbaum）長年曖昧的師徒關係幾乎導致他的元配躁鬱成疾－奈莉（Nelly Barth）夫人寬容成全的偉大是被後人所低估的。幾十年同屋而居的三人行，讓人不知道這對他的三一行動倫理算是什麼交代。
唯有潘霍華和瑪利亞. 魏德邁（Maria von Wedemeyer）是由女方的祖母所牽線（雖曾遭女方母親反對）。相差18歲的二人正式的師生關係僅限於教會信仰課程的傳遞，私下更多地是導師（mentor）與門徒的關係。潘霍華的神學倫理體系和他全人的生命歷程是聯繫在一起的。 在潘霍華受納粹監禁以致殉道的那段時間中，瑪利亞一直是這位神學家在上帝以外最重要的精神支持。他們對上帝、對家國、對彼此的赤忱，譜成了一封封動人的《獄中書簡》。
Emil Brunner’s desire was to recover a proper understanding of natural theology, which in modern liberal theology has been derailed into “an unnatural appeal to human nearness to God”.
For Brunner, our [formal] image of God persists even after the fall (though the material image of God has to be restored through union in Christ alone). Therefore, responsible proclamation of the free grace of God must encounter creaturely existence and stand in a critical dialectical relationship with the [relative] ordered-ness of created life. Comprehending this relationship is another important task of theology and must be pursued as complementary to its primary commission.
Barth thought the distinction between the formal and the material image is completely wrong-headed, worrying if the neo-Protestantism polluted by the Enlightenment agenda and the ghost of Thomism is haunting the hall of theology again. Already in CD I/1, Barth issues extremely hard words concerning Brunner’s effort lavished in opinions related to “areas of culture”, which is, deviating from “the area of the church” (CD I/1, p.26).
Additionally, it has to be pointed out that Barth defines his view of natural theology in an ad hoc manner: natural theology is every [positive or negative] formulation of a system that claims to be theological, that seeks to interpret divine revelation whose subject is NOT Jesus Christ and whose method differs equally from the exposition of the Bible.
He believes the task of natural theology is “to bolster the divine revelation anthropologically or by cultural history”, which is categorically wrong and impossible.
Along with this line of debate, there are two issues to be traced in the following:
1) Barth didn’t get Aquinas right. Eugene Roger in Thomas Aquinas and Karl Barth: Sacred doctrine and the natural knowledge of God (1995) has argued this.
First Rogers is showing that Thomas is concerned actually with God’s faithfulness and grace for our theological enterprise: since all true knowledge of God can only be obtained from God, will not God change and transform what we have incorrectly begun (namely, the human quest for God from below)? Thomas is convinced to say yes to this question by proposing the concept of judgment and purification (of our knowledge and intention). God’s grace guides incorrect will of humans, but does not destroy their autonomous will where he desires that the humans should concur with God’s saving grace (Rom 8:28). He is really dealing with the question of the direction of will (intentionality) rather than the question of knowledge.
Thomas was not interested in a generally valid [anthropological] foundation for the knowledge of God outside of Revelation. For Brunner, in the same vein, the human reason needs grace in order to be liberated from sin. Incorrect human reason receives back a sense of direction which God had intended for it when he had created human beings in his image— a precondition by which human beings are able to look responsibly toward God, at the world, and at themselves. (This ideal had been carried out by students of Brunner who formed the conference centers of the Swiss Reformed Church until some deviations in recent years.)
No doubt that early Barth rejected the validity of such inquiry.
2) However, in the English-speaking world, and particularly Anglicanism, Brunner had been received in a much warmer manner than Barth had, understandably. (The support from the Americas makes Barth’s accusation of Brunner’s ideological bent toward of German nationalism a weaker one.) Carrying on the frontline battle today, Stanley Hauerwas in 2001, at the Gifford Lectures— which were established for the promotion of a natural theology of English origin— regarded Barth’s [Christological] sublimation of natural theology as the decisive theological turn of 20th century (cf. Stanley Hauerwas , With the Grain of the Universe: The Church’s Witness and Natural Theology).
According to Hauerwas, later Barth is willing to reserve the phrase “real human” for an anthropology grounded on Christology (cf. also CD III/2 §44.1-3).
Therefore, to deal with the conflict between theology and anthropology, we had only have to confess how a theological anthropology is possible to us. Not only do we have to resist making theology possible by means of an antecedent anthropology, but also have to demonstrate how and to what extent one can speak about the human [existential] standing before God, being derived from God and pointing to God.
For Hauerwas, this Christologically-grounded in natural theology needs not prove itself to be universally susceptible. God himself accomplishes his truth. This does not exclude “naturally”, but it demands that we speak intelligibly for those who disagree with our testifying to the truth.
Kimlym J. Bender, “Christ and Canon, theology and history—the Barth-Harnack dialogue revisited” in Theology as Conversation: The Significance Of Dialogue In Historical And Contemporary Theology: A Festschrift For Daniel L. Migliore, Bruce McCormack and Kimlym J. Bender eds., Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009, pp. 3-29
Because of the diversity and heterogeneity of the books in the Bible, Harnack insisted historical knowledge and critical reflection on necessary to understand its content. Without these faith would advance an unchecked speculative fantasy at best and at worst a theological dictatorship that “seeks to culture the consciences of others with its own subjective experience”.
Barth responded to the criticism with an emphasis on unity [between Christ of faith and Jesus of history]. For Barth, the Jesus of Nazareth no much historical science fails to display Jesus true identity is abstracted from the confession of him as the risen Lord. If Christ is the Lord of history, any historical reconstructions are his earthly life that ignores his Lordship can at best be an abstraction.
Historical science alone is unable to move beyond speculative reconstruction to confession.
Indeed, the precise determination of the Christian canon’s development is in a large part lost to history. But the question of its subject matter is clearly shown to us to be the God to whom the canon witnesses and the contemporary confessions of faith profess.
It is the unity of the Lord that grounds the unity of Scripture and the makes it a unified witness. To understand Scripture rightly entails that one read it as a participant in its truth. (For Harnack, this emotional attachment risks of loss of scientific objectivity and responsibility.)
Barth’s commitment to a different kind of objectivity and the responsibility is expressed in his third edition of the Romans commentary where he insists that we must think not so much about Paul but after and with Paul towards the subject matter with which he himself was concerned. (For a discussion of what exactly Barth takes to be historical science positive and preparatory function, which Barth has only alluded to but never fully explains, see Burnett, Karl Barth‘s Theological Exegesis, pp.230-240)
However, Harnack score a point. While the exact genetic history of canonical development may ultimately be unanswerable, we are still left with the canonical question concerning its composition and the parameters, which is not solved by the ultimate definition of the canon’s theological and the Christological nature. For example, shall we be siding with Luther’s (and thus Judaism’s) version of the Hebrew OT or the Catholic Church’s (and thus the engine church’s) LXX OT? Whose canon? Whose Scripture? (the same question needs to be posed against Childs.)
Latter Barth is clearly in his mature reflections aware of the historical messiness of canonical development in the contested boundaries, is refusing all the way the [confessional] church any final authority. He deems that the revelation of God which comes through Scripture is the ultimate basis and criteria for the canon, which must overrides even historic usages and past decisions of councils. But paradoxically, if anyone today wants to challenge particular books of their canonical status or revelatory significance, Barth would give precedence to the Church’s past decisions by aligning them with the obedient hearing of God’s voice.
Barth views the Scripture through a single lens of Christology, whereas Harnack employs multiple lenses, including a Kantian universal rationalism modified in light of Schleiermacher, a modern Lutheran law and the gospel dichotomy modified by Ritschl, and his spiritual moralism alike. Though he still attempted to preserve the uniqueness of the person of Jesus against Troeltsch’s appeal for a more consistent/critical historicism, he is separating the message of Jesus from his own historical [i.e., Jewish rabbinical and first century eschatological] roots in favor of a universal moral message that it can be extracted from both Testaments. Barth on the contrary is classically orthodox—he sees Christ foreshadowed in the old and attested in the new (But still, in various fronts, he has been criticized for having not taken the Old Testament on its own terms).
In the end, if Barth really needs to be faulted in his open confessional position, it was in his ready acceptance of the findings of radical biblical criticism, telling to criticize not only its presuppositions but also its findings. This was due in no small part to Barth’s early liberal inheritance [from Hermann]: his early ambivalence toward history and a dialectic of contradiction that has only to be overcome in time with a dialectic of correspondence.
But no doubt, what intrigues many of us today in the Harnack/Barth dabate, is Barth’s hermeneutics of trust and the canonical richness, rather than Harnack’s hermeneutics of suspicion and canonical reductionism.