I have been reading through Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics IV.4, easily, the smallest of his famous theological treatise. CD IV.4 is the last in the series and discusses baptism in the light of the doctrine of reconciliation. A lot of his discussion here reflects his treatment of honour late in CD III.4. From what I have read so far he certainly does bring home the message that ‘only the existence of God constitutes the honour of humanity’ (CD III.4.56, p.651).
Humans may appear to be godless however, because God is both creator and Lord, ‘humans are never without God’. (CD III.4.56, p.652). I.E.: ‘Man can be godless, but God can never be manless’ (ibid p.652).
This raises the question, if God is the sole source of human provision and honour, how is it Western society seems to look for this “supply” solely from its elected Governments?
‘Christian ethics is the free and active answer of humanity to the divine work and word of Grace’ (CD. IV.4: ix).
What this means is that our free and active answer, not only invites God to participate in our decisions, such an act makes room for God. We acknowledge that we belong to God and we recognise that He mercifully makes himself available to us. Considering this within a socio-political context leads to a list of questions: such as, when I vote, does God exist in my decision or am I rewarding a particular party, simply because they were the ones offering me the “shiniest carrot”?
Last night in Australia our Treasurer handed the Australian people his national budget. He rolled back some things and initiated others. Most could be considered beneficial, some a political play to gain re-election.
I concede that Government is an essential part of God’s provision for His people. We see this in the Joseph narrative within Genesis (46).
However, my enquiry doesn’t necessarily lie at the feet of Government. It resides at the feet of those who stand before Governments, those of us who look to them as the only source of provision. How much should we expect our Governments to provide in a budget that is made up of other people’s money, our taxes? Who benefits and who is burdened? How entrenched is the ideology which feeds a sense of entitlement, that it blindsides us into forgetting the theological imperative which states that God is the true source of our help?
Surely Psalm 121:1-2 and Philippians 4:19 provide the necessary corrective, if not the antidote, to my countries overtly misplaced trust and the subsequent slavery to fear that always attaches itself to our lives when we trust humans before God for our needs.
Barth wrote that:
‘the freedom of God is grounded in man’s becoming free to be faithful to God, as God is faithful to him’ (CD.IV.4:13)
Simply put, there is room for God in everything we do, not Governments. Right now, all I have are questions. The first of which is, does God truly exist in my decisions today?