Is Christian theology essential to the Church

Epiphany -

Although we are deeply referred to God as our Creator in our entire existence, God remains inaccessible and hidden to us as finite human beings in his infinite reality. Specifically: As humans, we always ask ourselves who we are, where we come from and where we are going. Questioningly, we reach beyond the limits of our finite and often conditioned reality to something unconditional, absolute, which is able to give our life meaning and support. At the same time, however, due to our limited power of knowledge, we are not able to grasp the exact meaning of this absolute. In this way we find ourselves referred to an incomprehensible mystery, of which we cannot say for ourselves whether it is absolute fullness or absolute emptiness. A development of this absolute is consequently not possible for us on our own, but only from the point of view of it itself, insofar as this opens up to us, reveals itself to us as the absolute fullness. The theological term "revelation" means precisely this self-disclosure or self-disclosure of the absolute divine mystery to human beings.

The divine mystery, however, never reveals itself to us directly, but always only mediated through certain worldly experiences: Viewed externally, they are very worldly experiences that are in themselves accessible to everyone, in and in which a light dawns on us, suddenly the whole of reality appears new, a new horizon opens up for us. This can happen when, for example, we admire the beauty of nature, our life unexpectedly takes a new turn, events in history strike us or we meet other people. We are then able to see more than something mundane in these events; they become signs and symbols of the divine mystery that opens up in them. With regard to such experiences, theology also speaks of an 'indirect' experience, i.e. of an experience that man involuntarily makes in and with certain worldly experiences and in which the mystery of God is revealed to him as the all-determining reality. There is a great variety of such development experiences. They can sometimes be vital to the individual while remaining inaccessible to others. In addition, there are also experiences that, beyond those directly affected, are also able to cast a spell over other believers - as indicated by certain forms of veneration of saints or the importance of some places of pilgrimage.

The church also recognizes such experiences of disclosure in the sense of genuine revelation experiences for the area of ​​non-Christian religions. The Second Vatican Council declares that "from ancient times to our days ... there is a certain perception among different peoples of that hidden power which is present in the course of the world and in the events of human life". The Church therefore looks "with sincere seriousness" at the utterances of these religions, "which may differ in some ways from what it itself considers and teaches to be true, but not infrequently reveal a ray of that truth that enlightens all people" (Nostra Aetate 2).

For Christians, however, this general history of revelation finds its uniqueness and meaning only in the special history of God with man, which begins with the calling of Abraham and finds its final perfection in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God himself. In this story, God invites people to commune with himself by making himself known to people in "deed and word" (Second Vatican Council), ie through historical events and their interpretation by appointed mediators, such as the prophets. What is revealed in this History, initially occurring in many ways and in many ways, is finally fulfilled in an absolutely unsurpassable way in the person of Jesus Christ: Jesus Christ is the revelation of God in person, by opening himself completely to God in an absolutely unique way, that is, God in his Gives complete space for all of life and work, God himself - in his eternal Word - can become real present in human history, especially in the personal encounter with Jesus Christ, with his work and his message, through the work of his spirit Remaining present in the witness of the Church, therefore, the divine mystery finally and unsurpassed is revealed to us: as the loving one Father who seeks the closeness of people and invites them into the most intimate community with himself.

The Second Vatican Council describes precisely this fact with reference to the confession of the Triune God: “God has decided in his goodness and wisdom to reveal himself ...: so that people through Christ, the Word made flesh, have access in the Holy Spirit to have a father and to partake of the divine nature "(Dei Verbum 2). Here it becomes clear: The Christian understanding of revelation as the real self-communication of God to men for communion with him necessarily presupposes the confession of the Triune God. Or vice versa: the confession to the Triune God is the only adequate development of the specifically Christian understanding of Revelation.

Author (s): Norbert Witsch