Just before we get to the next section on “The Task of Prolegomena to Dogmatics” in Church Dogmatics I want to lift out of the current passage of the relationship of dogmatics to faith one of the dangers of dogmatics that Barth warns us against and that I find myself bumping into time and again. He writes that the church must be careful in doing dogmatics that it does not end up with a “worse perversion of Christian utterance (CD/I.1/21)” than the one with which it began. As I think about working in theology I am constantly aware that my reflections may be wrong and the very thinking of those who have preceded me or who now come alongside me in time, and whose ideas I am attempting to change or correct, may be right. How do I know if the result of my action will be “true and important criticism and correction and not a worse perversion of Christian utterance”?
Barth gives me a defense in guarding against this: “In this respect the fear of the Lord must always be the beginning of knowledge (CD/I.1/21).” Quoting the Proverbs here is right. Last week we were warned that we are to live in faith humbly and not arrogantly. And today we are reminded that our task in theology can be dangerous and we best not think we have the knowledge that enlightens everyone else! I need to be constantly reminded of this great truth.