Forde, Gerhard O. The Preached God: Proclamation in Word and Sacrament. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 3, “Karl Barth on the consequences of Lutheran Christology” Loc. 958-1182
Forde considers Karl Barth a an example of a Reformed theologian who had considered Lutheran theology carefully. Barth saw Lutheran Christology as problematic because it could have led to a view of anthropology as more important than theology (Forde 2007, Loc. 961). In this chapter, Forde’s purpose is “to look at two particular doctrinal issues in the argument between Barth and the Lutherans as a kind of exercise in the consequences of Christology “ (Forde 2007, Loc. 966). Barth’s specific targets are “the genus maiestaticum, the doctrine that the risen Christ is everywhere present in his human nature…[and] that the communication of divine attributes to the human nature of the exalted Christ seems to leave the door open to the idea that all humans could become divine” (Forde 2007, Loc. 976).
Barth’s consideration of the issue is in his Church Dogmatics IV/2 (Forde 2007, Loc. 978). His initial objection has to do with the subjectivity of interpretation, as hard data on internal attributes is elusive. Barth’s view of the discussion is that Lutheran arguments were not convincing and that the Reformed failed to persuade the Lutherans of error (Forde 2007, Loc. 992).
The classic Reformed emphasis was on Jesus as true man and true God, while the Lutheran explanation, Barth considered, could lead to a preoccupation with the explanation of attributes rather than reflection on Jesus’ power to save (Forde 2007, Loc. 1006). More seriously, Barth was concerned that the idea of divinization of Christ left the door open to every person becoming divine as well (Forde 2007, Loc. 1011). Yet, Forde says, Barth does not make his case using historical evidence but with rhetorical questions (Forde 2007, Loc. 1016). Forde illustrates with quotes from Barth.
Forde’s answer to the situation is, first, to observe that Regin Prenter and Gerhard Ebeling have already answered the charges very thoroughly (Forde 2007, Loc. 1041). Yet Lutherans also have a tendency to subjectivize and make an abstraction of Jesus (Forde 2007, Loc. 1050). Forde affirms that dogmatic theology cannot effectively guard against this (Forde 2007, Loc. 1058). Theology in the end is an abstraction. The cure, says Forde, is in proclamation of the truth (Forde 2007, Loc. 1060). Barth, on the other hand, will say that systematic theology is not adequate to create change, but he does not say what is effective (Forde 2007, Loc. 1074). Lutheran Pietists have attempted to find a solution in Heilsgeschichte, the history of our salvation. Yet this is also unsatisfactory (Forde 2007, Loc. 1098). Barth’s attempt to refute Lutheran Christology may finally result in separating the humanity and deity of Christ (Forde 2007, Loc. 1121).
Forde concludes then that theologizing eventually becomes abstract (Forde 2007, Loc. 1126). The best use of theology should, to be effective, lead to proclamation in Word and sacraments rather than to further doctrinal exploration (Forde 2007, Loc. 1147). The result of proclamation is faith in Jesus (Forde 2007, Loc. 1161).