Theology as Free Science

“Theology is, for all its modesty, in an exemplary way a free science. This means it is a science which joyfully respects the mystery of the freedom of its object and which, in turn, is again and again freed by its object from any dependence on subordinate presuppositions” (Evangelical Theology, p. 6).

Theology is a strange work in that we are always at the mercy of the revelation of God. That’s what Barth is highlighting here in the mystery of God. God may surprise us at times, working in ways that our theology did not anticipate in the slightest. Other times, God may not fit neatly in the categories that we wish God would. The freedom of God and the mystery of that freedom can make theology a frustrating task in that it never gets a chance to harden. There’s always a bit of fluidity in our theology. At the same time though, Barth suggests that there is freedom for theologians in the freedom of God. This freedom is from all presuppositions that we may bring to the task of theology. There is freedom in staying faithful to our witness of God’s ongoing revelation. For some, this freedom that Barth talks about may be troubling. Where does one begin in theology without presuppositions? The answer is God. Our theological starting point is the revelation of God in all forms. There is freedom in this but as I said before, it can be a frustrating freedom.

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