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includes two brief typescripts of theses (registered as A 57,10 and B 13,2) made by J. In relation to his claim that God concretely commands peace upon and from the church, Bonhoeffer writes, ‘As for the question of whether the commandments can be accounted for: we cannot account for the commandment. Much of the exposition Bonhoeffer provides on the opening verses of Psalm 119 in his unfinished commentary upon that text attends to the way in which God's word of Torah provides a ‘path’, and he associates this with the work of the Spirit; see For it is ‘not a code of detailed laws’ but rather formulates ‘those conditions required for membership in the community’, in effect representing ‘a distillation, so to speak, of the core demands made by the God of Israel on those covenanted to him’; Weinfeld, ‘Uniqueness of the Decalogue’, pp. Weinfeld emphasises this view later in the essay, comparing the Decalogue to the This is not to say that Barth is in any sense disinterested in or detached from theology's horizon in proclamation; quite the opposite is the case overall, of course.
Barth was not just a phase that Webster passed through, after all; the voice of Barth continues here as Webster approvingly cites his insistence that Christian theology “does not know and proclaim anything side by side with or apart from Jesus Christ, because it knows and proclaims all things only as his things. Such a dictum may be taken in a healthy sense, which it perhaps retained in the work of its author, T. It might mean, for example, that the personality of Jesus, in the history of his action and passion in the Gospels, is considered as if it simply were the depth of divinity in itself.
“No God behind the back of Jesus Christ” might be the motto of a movement that refuses to see the personal history of Jesus Christ as proceeding out of any immense and eternal horizon of deity, but simply being that horizon.
Surely Christ is the center, and surely knowledge of Christ is the starting point, of Christian knowledge of God and salvation.
And if Christ is the center, mustn’t Christology in and of itself be central to systematic theology?
The essay “Christology, Theology, Economy: The Place of Christology in Systematic Theology” is a late essay by the late Webster. It has the poignancy of final advice transmitted shortly before the line went silent.
And however we may periodize the phases of his career, this essay shows where Webster’s mind was moving near the end.Webster in fact diagnoses a few of the conditions that have made possible the febrile hyper-Christocentrism of some modern theology.It starts with Schleiermacher’s insistence that what makes Christianity distinctive among the religions is that “everything is related to the redemption accomplished by Jesus of Nazareth” and goes on to use nothing but Christology and soteriology to specify programmatically the entire Christian doctrine of God.In other words, if Christology is considered in systematic-theological context, it is “not in and of itself the starting point or center of Christian teaching, but one indispensable element of a complex whole.” What Webster argues for is a contextualizing and, yes, a relativizing of Christology.Christology must not be handled “in and of itself,” but always in and of the triune God if it is to show us the center and the starting point.How could a theologian with Webster’s breadth of exposure to the tradition fail to be aware of, alert to, and alarmed by the theological catastrophes that follow from any decentralizing of Christology?What rough sub-Barthian beast, its hour come round at last, is slouching toward its place of birth in this essay?Webster describes the problem as an over-intensification of certain elements of Christology, which has caused a disordered expansion and contraction of other elements (54).What has expanded is the field of doctrine called the economy of salvation; what has contracted is the field of theology called, well, theology: the doctrine of God’s own immense and perfect immanent life.God’s being is described as his act, but that act is taken to be the external act of redemption, and so the personal history of Jesus can no longer be understood as the effect of any cause, but must itself be thought of as the all-sufficient cause of salvation, of humanity, of divinity.Something has gone awry with this style of Christology.