Monday, March 21, 2011

The Problem of Logic

    "Only the renunciation of the logically satisfying theory creates room for true decision; but the Gospel is the Word which confronts us with the summons to decision" (pg. 353), so ends the first book of Brunner's trilogy on Christian Doctrine. In this statement, Dr. Brunner sums up his whole project by revealing two truths.

   The first truth is that to make sense of the Biblical narrative and the Divine, we need to renounce that which is logically satisfying. We need to understand that God is not the God of the philosophers (logicians, academics, or scientists), but the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (as Blaise Pascal so eloquently put it). God is not knowable through Reason, but through living with Him. We do a dis-service to the Divine when we erect a system of thought and then try to fit God into it. We need to remember Brunner's earlier warning that "the truly personal God is He who is not known through thought" (pg. 123) and that "Wherever dogmatics becomes a system, or is systematically dominated by a fundamental idea then already there has been a fatal declension from the attitude of the faithful translator. The very thing that makes such an impression, and attracts people with good brains: rigid unity of thought, in dogmatics is the infallible sign of error. Revelation cannot be summed up in a system." (pg. 72) We worship a God that cannot be summed up in system. This is a powerful statement. We wish to categorize God and place on Him our logic and control Him. Faith might not be logically satisfying, but it satisfies live.

    The second truth in this statement is that the Gospel confronts us with a decision. We are not Elect from the beginning of time. Our lives are not determined by God. Out of His Love, God limited Himself by creating us and giving us the freedom to choose. In Jesus Christ, in His death, burial, descent and resurrection we are not automatically saved or damned. We are elect through Christ, but not by Christ. (see previous post, ( God, in His Freedom, has given us freedom. We are called to worship, not demanded to worship.

   "To the Elect (those who believe) it is said: "come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (pg. 327). It is with this invitation we can come to the celebration, the inauguration of the Kingdom of God. The call has gone out, but many will not hear it. This is what Brunner is trying to get us to think about. We are called to freedom, called out of bondage, but instead of slipping loose the chains and leaving them behind, we try then to use the chains to bind God.



  1. So could this be interpreted thusly: that any systematic description of faith i.e. a religion, is already an "erect[ed]...system of thought" and therefore false? Or do you get around this by saying that the bible is the word of god period?

    Otherwise, it seems to me, what that says is that the only way to be one with god(or gods) is to experience them, not to describe them.

  2. Meghan,
    See my latest post to see if that clears things up and feel free to keep commenting!