Week 3’s portion of Barth (§3 of 1.1) moves into discussion of Barth’s understanding of the “Word of God” and how it relates to the act of proclamation. Barth describes proclamation as “human speech in and by which God Himself speaks like a king through the mouth of his herald, and which is meant to be heart and accepted as speech in and by which God Himself speaks, and therefore heard and accepted in faith as divine decision concerning life and death, as divine judgment and pardon, eternal Law and eternal Gospel both together” (52). Barth discusses this idea specifically as it relates to preaching, making particular arguments about the distinction between the practices of the Catholic church and churches whose practices were shaped by the Reformers.
One of my encounters with Barth in seminary was reading his Homiletics. I remember thinking that, if Barth was right in his assertions about what makes preaching preaching (a divine voice speaking through a human instrument), I have heard very few, if any, real sermons. At least, that was my initial reaction. Barth has a high view of the proclaimed sermon, and reading this section of the Church Dogmatics gave me some helpful insight that would be worth rereading portions of Homiletics.
This morning as I read Barth it made me again wonder about such a high view of preaching. I am not sure that, in practice at least, I have found this to be how I go about preaching and teaching – or at least how I go about preaching and teaching. Maybe that’s a problem. Or maybe it’s not?
There it is. Hopefully next week will shed further light on this issue.