Eberhard Busch: The Prayer of Jesus Is The First Act In Christian Ethics

‘Pray consistently and never quit’

– Jesus. (Luke 18, The Message)


It has been some time since I last read through Eberhard Buschs’ ‘The Barmen Theses: Then and Now’. Only 101 pages in length, the book is a compendium of lectures given in 2004 on the 1933-34 Barmen Declaration[i], of which Barth was a ‘’principle’’ author.

There were many things about this little book worth sharing. A lot of its content grabbed at my heart and mind, energising the direction of my own theological study. Buschs’ exhortations are helpful to anyone actively pursuing a lens from which to understand God’s alignment with us, through Jesus Christ, and how our response to that alignment is applied in today’s world.

In between other jobs this week I’ll attempt to systematically post small sections I found to be significant.

Here, under the title ‘Thesis Two: The Rigorous Gospel and the Gracious Law’, Busch lays down some serious theology about The Lord’s Prayer and the Christian.


‘Christian ethics is an ethics of freedom. It has to do with a freedomBarmen these then and now that has little to do with coercion as it has to do with decision and preference.

It is a freedom that is not practiced in isolation but rather in connectedness with God and his children who are “my” brothers and sisters.
But still, in this sense, it is an ethic of freedom.There may be situations in which one swims against the current and still cooperates with others.

In so doing, one might be able to arrive at good agreements with one’s non-Christian fellows.

In this freedom one will occasionally have to demolish some things critically, but only in order to preserve things worth holding onto or to risk new things.

Behind all these endeavours there will be prayer – and it will become quite obvious whether that is really what is behind it all.

According to the prayer of Jesus, the Lord’s Prayer, our prayer engages first of all the world’s rebellion against God and asks that his name should be hallowed, that his will should be done, and that his kingdom should come. It then asks for God’s engagement in human distress, that he should take to heart humanity’s hunger and thirst, its failure and guilt, its oppression by evil powers.

Such prayer is not merely preparation for the ethical conduct of Christians. It is its first act.’

– (‘The Barmen Theses: Then and Now’, 2010:47)


Of the many good statements about this topic I have read, his claims here rate among the best reflections (Calvin, Spurgeon, Barth, Tozer, Bonhoeffer et.al) on how Christian prayer and ethics meet.


Related Reading:

Confessions: Barmen, Barth and Busch.

[i] The significance of the Barmen Declaration, in brief, is its value as a unified statement created by the Confessing Church, in Nazi Germany, which publically rejected the slippery slope embarked upon once theology is surrendered and becomes a blind servant to an ideology.


2 thoughts on “Eberhard Busch: The Prayer of Jesus Is The First Act In Christian Ethics

  1. Kevin Davis says:

    That is a great insight about prayer as the first act. Barth’s little book on prayer is one of my favorite writings from Barth.



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