February 24, 2012
When it comes to angels, Barth is normally quoted to the effect that angels are not the proper subject of theology, and so forth, as he demonstrates in CD III.3 § 51.1 (“The Limits of Angeology”). That is all well and true, but Barth’s point is that the activity of the angels is to reveal the proper subject of theology: God. Thus, he goes on to develop an incredibly positive and constructive angeology in § 51.2 and 51.3. In fact, I was a bit surprised (pleasantly) by the heightened role he gives to the angels in the economy of God. So we read:
All genuine witness to God lives by the witness and therefore the ministry of angels. For by this it becomes in a sense technically possible and real that God is genuinely present and may be genuinely known as God in the earthly sphere, that he genuinely and recognisably speaks and acts, and that He is genuinely honoured and loved and feared. In their so utterly selfless and undemanding and purely subservient passing, in their eloquently quiet pointing to God which is always a pointing away from themselves, heaven comes to earth. …
Without the angels God himself would not be revealed and perceptible. Without them He would be hopelessly confused with some earthly circumstance, whether in the form of a sublime idea or a golden calf. …
As such, although creatures as we are, they stand over against us at the side of God. The very thing which they lack in comparison with us includes within itself their infinite advantage over us. In face of God they have no cause of their own in the espousing of which they have to submit to His will. They do not exist in any reciprocal relationships which have to be conformed to the divine model. They do not sing any hymn of praise which well or badly they have to strike up. They are themselves an eternal hymn of praise. And their existence is not tedious, as tedious theologians usually imagine, because as the entourage accompanying God they have their hands full with what He wills and does and therefore with us. Their liturgy is their service to Him and therefore to us. But in this service they stand over against us at the side of God. They exist in His glory, speak in His truth and work with His power. We cannot rely on them as we do on God. But we must not forget that when we rely on God we can rely on them. We can as little dispute with them as with God; we can as little deny them as we can deny God. In faith in a God of theory or ethics or aesthetics we may well deny the angels, because in the company of this kind of God it makes no odds whether there are angels or not. But in faith in the heavenly Father of Jesus Christ, whose majesty is operative and revealed in His mercy; in faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the case is very different. To deny the angels is to deny God Himself.
February 12, 2012
Lots of funny stuff here from a PCUSA seminarian:
best line: “I wish Bonhoeffer was a Presbyterian.”
I actually knew almost all of the acronyms!
HT: D. G. Hart
February 2, 2012
Here is Pope Benedict XVI describing why the organ is better than guitars in worship:
The organ has always been considered, and rightly so, the king of musical instruments, because it takes up all the sounds of creation – as was just said – and gives resonance to the fullness of human sentiments, from joy to sadness, from praise to lamentation. By transcending the merely human sphere, as all music of quality does, it evokes the divine. The organ’s great range of timbre, from piano through to a thundering fortissimo, makes it an instrument superior to all others. It is capable of echoing and expressing all the experiences of human life. The manifold possibilities of the organ in some way remind us of the immensity and the magnificence of God.
Okay, he’s not directly contrasting with guitars, but it’s probably in his mind after a few too many hokey John Paul II masses.