Sunday, 19 October 2008

Is the Pope Barthian?

In response to my post on Barth and inerrancy, L.T. of The Epicatholic Fold provided a link to a recent meditation by Pope Benedict XVI on the Word of God. Check out the following excerpts and tell me he's not Barthian:

[T]he Word of God is the foundation of everything, it is the true reality. And to be realistic, we must rely upon this reality. ... Therefore, we must change our concept of realism.


All is created from the Word and all is called to serve the Word. This means that all of creation, in the end, is thought to create the meeting place between God and His creature, a place where the history of love between God and His creature can develop. ... In this sense, the history of salvation, Covenant, precedes creation. ... One can say that, while material creation is the condition for the history of salvation, the history of the Covenant is the true cause of the cosmos. We reach the roots of being by reaching the mystery of Christ, His living word that is the aim of all creation.


We are always searching for the Word of God. It is not merely present in us. Just reading it does not mean necessarily that we have truly understood the Word of God. The danger is that we only see the human words and do not find the true actor within, the Holy Spirit. We cannot find the Word in the words. ... This is a great danger as well in our reading of the Scriptures: we stop at the human words, words form the past, history of the past, and we do not discover the present in the past, the Holy Spirit who speaks to us today with the words from the past.
Therefore, exegesis, the true reading of the Holy Scripture, is not only a literary phenomenon, not only reading a text. It is the movement of my existence. It is moving towards the Word of God in the human words. Only by conforming to the Mystery of God, to the Lord who is the Word, can we enter within the Word, can we truly find the Word of God in human words. Let us pray to the Lord that He may help us to look for the word, not only with our intellect but also with our entire existence.

The Word of God is like a stairway that we can go up and, with Christ, even descend into the depths of His love. It is a stairway to reach the Word in the words.

I'm no expert, but this all sounds very Barthian to me. What interests me most, however, beyond its intellectual genealogy, is how it works in practice. How does one do this kind of exegesis? What are the conditions for "climbing the stairway to God"? Is there a method? Or is it all a matter of mystical experience? What is the right context? Does one reconstruct the Sitz im Leben of Ps 18 and then find analogies, does one read it in its latest literary context, does one read it alone or as part of the liturgy of the hours? How do you get to its "substance" and when do you know you have arrived?

These will be questions that will continue to bug me for a while, no doubt.


Anonymous said...

I am not up on my Barth so can't really answer your questions but the following book looks like it should be insteresting: God's Word: Scripture, Tradition, Office by Joseph Ratzinger.

Also this.

Phil Sumpter said...

You are an amazing source of info. Thanks again for the link. I will endeavour to read the article, which looks fascinating, but I'm really having to prioritize my time at the moment.