The Role of Conversation with Reformed Orthodoxy in the Development of Barth’s Ecclesiology


The Role of the Conversation with Reformed Orthodoxy in the Development of Barth’s Ecclesiology

Rinse H. Reeling Brouwer

1. Introduction

In what would turn out to be the last week of Barth’s professorship in Göttingen, three of the four hours of lectures in dogmatics – Tuesday, the 28th of July, Thursday, the 30th and Friday, the 31st – were available for teaching the doctrine of the Church.[1] As had been the case for the entire project of his first dogmatics, Heinrich Heppe’s old textbook of Reformed Dogmatics (1861) lay before him, now opened at Locus XXVII: De Ecclesia.[2] And in spite of being pressed for time, what happened pretty much with every locus, happened here too: the connection of his own theological thoughts, as far as they had been developed so far, with the insights he gained from the old sources led to new impulses, which he would not be able to forget even in his later years, when, in effect, he took a risk and designed his own dogmatics in a certain sense independently from any previous confessional or theological school.

The ‘Doctrine of Reconciliation’, as taught in the summer of 1925, deals with Heppe’s Loci XVI-XXVII in eight Paragraphes (§§ 27-34). The first one is on Heppe’s Locus on the Covenant of Grace (§ 27: the Faithfulness of God). Two paragraphs then follow on Christology, then four (skilfully composed) on a combination of Soteriology and the Doctrine of the Sacraments. ‘Our’ paragraph on the Church provides the conclusion. The form of §§ 27-34 as a whole is therefore that of an inclusio, which makes sense. Barth, however, does not mention this, so we are not sure whether he himself was aware of this shape he had so beautifully composed.[3] This is a sign, and not the only one, that Barth in his first project did not yet have in mind a clear idea of the composition of his dogmatics as a whole.

The structure of § 34 follows the order of Heppe’s Locus XXVII:

1. the Essence of the Church, i.e., its definition, its distinctiveness as ecclesia triumphans and ecclesia militans, its character as an article of faith, and its attributes relayed from the Creed;[4] 2. the distinction and the relationship of the ecclesia invisibilis and the ecclesia visibilis;[5]

3. the notae ecclesiae, that are supposed to make it possible to recognize in the ecclesia visibilis the vera ecclesia;[6]

4. The realization of these notae by way of the visible form of the regimen ecclesiasticum, i.e. the carrying out the ecclesiastical ministerium.[7]

Barth had to mostly pass over the last part of this section, on the threefold potestas ecclesiastica.[8]

As we said already, with regard to each of the themes of the orthodox-Reformed doctrine of the church that he found in Heppe, Barth was able to engage in a conversation with his own theological intuitions. In this paper, we will investigate these conversations in the following order: the doctrine of the church as an alternative for a Christian philosophy of history (3), the doctrine of predestination (that must be reconsidered) as a presupposition for the doctrine of the church (4) and his view of ecclesiastical ministry (and the absence of a doctrine of officium, Amtslehre, in Barth, 5). We will end this paper with an observation on the concepts of ‘witness’ (Zeugnis) and ‘mission’ (Sendung) in the text of Unterricht § 34, the lack of which in tradition he would criticize later on in the only excursus dedicated to the Doctrine of the Church in Protestant Orthodoxy in the Church Dogmatics (CD IV/3, 764-767, 6).

Before we develop these four points, however, we have to take a closer look at the Reformed dogmatics sources he used. In his Locus XXVII, Heppe quotes 23 authors in 57 Belegstellen. In his § 34, Barth selects 9 of them in 15 quotations.[9] Both give the impression that one homogeneous doctrine existed between about 1559 and 1700. However, in his famous ‘Zum Geleit’ of Ernst Bizer’s new edition of Heppe in 1935, Barth would write: ‘It is obvious that, to be acquainted with orthodoxy, one cannot stay with Schmid or also Heppe, but one has to seek and to go the more difficult way to the sources, in which often enough all things look quite differently from the way the extracts of Heppe might lead one to suppose.’[10] After 1925 Barth himself would pursue this more difficult way, and so will we. In a second section of this paper, therefore, to broaden our perspective, we will meet seven of the theologians, whose debate on the church Heppe consulted in their own context (2).

2. Voices of some Reformed Orthodox Theologians, Quoted by Heppe

2.1. William Bucanus (Du Buc) – 12 quotations in Locus XXVII of Heppe, two of which are taken up by Barth. As a professor in Lausanne, 1591-1603, Bucanus wrote his Institutiones Theologicae, as the title page says, with a didactic intention: to help candidates for the holy ministry, who are preparing themselves for an exam in Christian Doctrine.[11] Therefore he has chosen an ‘analytical’ method, to divide each locus into a series of questions, so that the answers can be learned easily. As if summarizing, the last question always asks, which positions in the preceding subject matter have been rejected. Again for didactic reasons he uses the Ramistic method of breaking down content into a continuing series of bifurcations. The end of the table looks as follows:

  • The communion of Christ has an internal side: by faith, and an external one: by ministry.
  • Ministry may be spiritual: in the church, or political: by the magistrate
  • The spiritual ministry concerns the church itself, or the sacraments
  • The church itself may be seen generatim (Locus XLI) or in specie
  • The special ministry can be seen in its order (XLII), its power and authority (XLIII) and its discipline and jurisdiction (XLIV-XLV).

The orthodox predecessors have to be honoured, and no originality is intended. Perhaps this lack of pretension in Systematics is also the reason, that the text gives the reader the impression that there is a break between the doctrine of the church in genere and in specie. The bifurcation tends to become a dualism here. The questions on the essence of the church show traces of the struggle of the earlier Reformation, e.g., XLI q. 9 on the ‘church of the desert’ (Rev. 12, 6)[12] or q. 14: ‘where is then the church?’ answer: ‘it is not our task to point out at what time her decline is beginning, it is however our task to point out how it is possible to liberate her from such a disaster’. However, the loci on special ministry on the other hand show a high degree of positivism with regard to the Reformed Church as an established church, although there are exceptions as in XLII q. 58: ‘is it allowed for a pastor in a time of persecution to flee and to leave his flock?’[13]

2.2. Johannes Wollebius – 9 quotations in Heppe, 2 of which are taken up by Barth.[14] His Compendium[15] is a masterly summary of the Syntagma of Amandus Polanus, a predecessor on the chair of Old Testament in Basel, which Wolleb occupied from 1618-1629. Its definitiones and canones (with added annotationes) are very short and aptly formulated, and together form a chain of statements that are very well shaped to be memorized. Therefore the danger mentioned earlier of a dualism in the doctrine of the church is not very acute here, because of the speed in which the theses follow each other. Here too, as in Bucanus, one finds the Ramistic bifurcation in the exposition of the material – Caput XXV On the Nature of the Visible Church, Cap. XXVI On the External Ministry of the Church (together: the true community, with as a contrast: Chap. XXVII On the False Church), but one cannot easily forget the other side of such a pair, when both sides are formulated in such close proximity to one another. Perhaps the implicit and explicit[16] polemics with the Old Church (of Rome) also give a hidden unity to the exposition, to which the confession of the invisible church in the beginning and the typically Reformed egalitarian structure of the ministry is connected by one accolade.

2.3. Samuel Maresius (Des Marets) – 14 quotations in Heppe, one of which is taken up by Barth. In his thirty years as a professor in Groningen, 1642-1673, he published his Collegium Theologicum, later under the title Systema Theologicum with 18 loci, divided in sectiones, each of which is – especially in the posthumous edition of 1673 –  provided with very erudite annotationes.[17] The construction of the doctrine of the church is as follows: Nomen ecclesiae (XV.1-6), partes (the called people on the one side, XV.8-18, the ministerium externum = the magistrate, XV.19-40 and the ministerium ecclesiastica, XV.41-80 on the other side), forma (internal-mystical and external, monarchic under Christ in its internal, and aristocratic in its external form of government, XVI.1-18), notae (XVI.19-50) and adjiuncta (visibility, infallibility, auctoritas et potestas, XVI.51-87). That ministry is treated before the forma (‘Wesensgestalt’) in this formalistic scheme, is a deviation from the prevailing order in protestant orthodoxy at the time. In my eyes it does not make any creative sense: as a systematician Maresius is not very impressive. The whole of the Systema is imbued with polemics in all directions: not only against the adversaries of the Reformed Church (Locus XVII is dealing with that in particular), but also with internal innovators as Coccejus, or even Voetius – the latter because he is influenced by the Puritan’s stress on the relative independence of the Church, which diverges from the ‘old’ Calvinist view of the relationship of church and magistrate that Maresius continues to adhere to. This ongoing polemical tone makes reading this work pretty disagreeable: this may be due to the harsh experiences  (including physical violence) Des Marets went through earlier as a pastor in France.

2.4. Franciscus Turrettini – 5 quotations in Heppe, one of which is adopted by Barth.[18] The main work of this Genevan professor, 1653-1687, is also polemical in its intention, but the tone is quite different from that of Maresius. However much his orthodox-Reformed positions are firm and unshakable, he remains balanced and academical. Of the twenty loci of his Institutio Theologiae Elenchticae, Locus XVIII is on the church.[19] It consists of 34 quaestiones.[20] Each quaestio has a similar scholastic organisation. In the status quaestionis the focus of the question under consideration is further determined, then follow the argumenta in favour of the orthodox position, and in the end the fontes solutionum, the sources that can contribute to a solution are weighed. Most of the answers are indeed elenchic, i.e., they draw a line of demarcation (e.g., q. 14: ‘can the Church of Rome of today be called a true church of Christ? We deny against the Romanists’[21]). As many as 16 of the 34 answers of this locus are directed Contra Pontificos, against the papists![22] The irenical Heppe only rarely makes this state of affairs visible, and so Barth could not have become acquainted with it. Only in Münster would Roman Catholicism become very important to him, namely as a challenge to the Evangelical Church as being a church, and being a Protestant church,[23] and so only there he would become proud of being a protestant theologian to whom Roman Catholic colleagues felt compelled to respond[24] – as was the case in a different way with Franciscus Turrettini in an earlier age.[25]

2.5. Benedictus Pictet(us) – 5 quotations in Heppe, of which two are taken up by Barth.

With this nephew, pupil, and from 1686 until his death in 1724 successor of Fr. Turrettini, the Genevan tradition of great orthodox theologians draws to its end. In his Theologia Christiana all the classical sentences are still there, and the classical order is maintained too.[26] An aristocratic atmosphere of a venerable and reliable church prevails, once shaped by such famous men as John Calvin in peaceful cooperation with the civil authorities of the city, whereby the differences between the representation of the latter, as grounded in natural law, and the principles of the election of ministers in the church must be observed (XIV.24). The paradoxes of Reformed theology are decreasing, but not denied. Yet, one may suppose, an atmosphere of change is in the air. In the last chapter of his treatise on the church, Pictet, who would become a member of the Berliner Akademie, pleads for a union with the brothers of the Augsburg Confession (XIV.38). The confessional era is over.

2.6. Johannes à Marck – 2 quotations in Heppe, not a single one taken up by Barth.

As a professor in Franeker (1676), Groningen (1682), and Leiden (1689-1732) à Marck with his Compendium Theologiae Christianae represents a final phase of Reformed, Voetian orthodoxy in the Netherlands.[27] In two forms (an elaborate and an abbreviated form, both in Latin and in Dutch, in many editions) his Compendium became the orthodox textbook for 18th century congregations in the Netherlands. His style is very clear and also terse: a worthy successor at the end of the century of what Wollebius presented at the beginning of it. Since the main part of the Compendium, ‘on the subject of theology’ (XIII-IV) is constructed – along the lines of a federal (but not Cocceian!) theology – as a history of successive covenants, whereby the various aspects of the Covenant of Grace are traced, the church, its last treated aspect, appears as the shaping of this covenant.[28] His Voetian (and at the same time scholastic and pietistic) orientation becomes clear when one reads how ‘purity of doctrine and sanctity of life’ are mentioned as notae ecclesiae (XXXII.10). When he speaks of the imperfection and fallibility of the church (XXXII.16), one perceives, also along pietistic lines, a decline of catholic consciousness. His attention to the chiliastic tendencies of his age is striking, so that, e.g., the future conversion of the Jews becomes part of the doctrine of the church (XXXII.23). Yet at the same time he holds off the apocalyptical speculations regarding the periods of the church (XXXII.31), as could be found in the work of his contemporary Mastricht.

2.7.  Petrus van Mastricht – 4 quotations in Heppe, of which one taken up by Barth as an allusion. Mastricht was the successor of Voetius in Utrecht and taught there from 1677 onwards until his death in 1706. His Theoretico-Practica Theologia is a well-balanced and all-round systematical achievement, in which all the disciplines of theology play their role.[29] The pattern can be recognized in the very first chapter of the seventh book: ‘on the Nature of the Church’. (1) The exegetical part offers an explanation of Eph. 5, 25: Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for it. (2) In the dogmatic exposition we find, e.g., the answer – to which both Heppe and Barth refer – to the question: ‘quid sit?’ Namely: ‘coetus hominum, efficaciter ad Christum evocatorum’ (the assembly of people, effectively called to Christ), the Trinitarian God as her causa principalis, the people who serve Him as co-workers as causa materialis, faith, by which Christ dwells in the believers, as causa formalis; and furthermore the well-known affectiones, distinctions (triumphans-militans etc.) and notae. (3) In the elenchic part sixteen delimitations are drawn, for instance against the papists who teach that all the members of the church are true believers as such, as well as against the Donatists (and Labadists) who deny that a priori (VII.22), against the Socinians who deny the existence of an ecclesia triumphans in heaven (VII.23), and against the supporters of a community that has ‘all things in common’ (VII.36). (4) The practical part contains exercises and commands as: (how) to seek the true church, to contribute to its edification, to pursue its peace and concord (VII.37-45). The Locus on the Church is the last but one of the whole. It is followed by Book Eight: de dispensatione foederis gratiae, i.e., a short history of the church, including the seven periods linked by the seven seals of the Apocalypse, the figure that, as we saw, was condemned by à Marck.

3. The Doctrine of the Church as an Alternative to a Christian Philosophy of History

3.1. ‘There is no Christian Philosophy of History. However, there is a Christian doctrine of the Church.’

‘Whoever says “History”, says humanity in general (…), whoever says “Church”, says humanity in the most particular way, in that particularity, that may only by misunderstanding, besides science, art, economy, etc., be subsumed under that generality, and therewith historicized.  Whoever says history, says nature and spirit, leader and mass with all the contrasts and syntheses that are possible and real between these entities. Whoever says church, says God and with that indicates an unsublateble beyond (unaufhebbares Jenseits) of all these contrasts and syntheses that cannot be removed (…) Whoever says church, says a limit to history in the midst of history, a limit to any philosophy of history too.’[30]

In the terms of the French philosopher Alain Badiou we could say: a philosophy of history cannot do more than take stock of and elevate the Being, which is composed of arbitrary sets that also reproduce the historically developed inequalities and injustices between men, while the church of which Barth speaks comes into being through one unique Event that calls for new subjects,[31] who are not concerned with the sphere of injustice any longer, but want to be active in a decisively different way.[32] For Barth, it is impossible to fit the concept of the church into any already existing category. It is a concept of a Limit (‘Grenzbegriff’), as is revelation itself. Therefore it made sense that already in the passage on revelation of the Prolegomena of his Göttingen Dogmatics, Barth had the intention to speak of the church.[33] Revelation and church are related concepts, just as the triune God and the church both belong to the contents of the creed.

Before, in his doctrine of the covenant of grace, one could already read:

‘The concept of the church contrasts in a sharply dialectical way with the concept of history. History also presents the relationship of God and man, but it does not represent reconciliation. Historical contingencies, quantities, forms as such demonstrate the divine condemnation, the human fall, the covenant that is not kept but broken. The church is the divine limit, the divine Notwithstanding (Trotzdem) vis-à-vis history – N.B., also and pre-eminently vis-à-vis church history.’[34]

In the twenties, Barth seems to assume that history in its ambivalence as such shows the existence of sin in the life of humanity. He has not yet found, as he would stress later on, that only the knowledge of Christ can reveal the knowledge of sin.[35] Anyhow, seen as the limit of sinful history, the church has to be seen as a gift of grace. ‘It is church of sinners, not of saints, and as such it is holy, it is the church of God.’[36] Already in Barth’s view in 1925, this is related to the time of the church: its time is the time of the reign of revelation, where it is not yet the end of time.[37] And therefore it lives in the act of revelation, and therewith in the dialectics of unveiling and veiling that characterizes revelation.[38] As long as it is living in this realm, the church itself in its existence on earth is an article of faith. The church must be believed in, precisely as is the case with God himself.[39]

3.2. The second section of § 34 is on the invisible and visible church. ‘Believing in the church involves a double, not a simple dialectical reflection: in spite of the visibility of the church to believe in its invisible essence, and… in spite of its invisibility to believe in its visible appearance’. From his orthodox Reformed sources he learned, that you can neither speak of two churches nor of a double church, but that you are dealing with one church from two aspects.[40] H. Bavinck has shown that such statements of the old doctors were directed against  tendencies of separatists in their own ranks. In those circles the invisible church relates to an ideal community that cannot be represented by the established churches.[41] How far such a civitas platonica is able to touch the visible church, to struggle with it, to change it, is doubtful. But for Barth the dialectic of his Göttingen Prolegomena is active here: the invisible church, as a creation of the merciful God, is the mystery of the visible one, and the visible church is the witness of the invisible one, the place where men give testimony that they can only live by grace.

The classical text for the doctrine of the invisibility, or better the hiddeness of the church in reformational theology,[42] is found in Luther’s defence against the challenge of Erasmus: does he really dare defend a doctrine (of the bondage of the will) that in former times (perhaps with the exception of Augustine) was taught only by heretics?[43] The same question had been laid before him in the name of the emperor during the Reichstag at Worms, 1521: ‘are you alone wise, against so many ages, against so many saints, yea, against the Holy Church itself?’ ‘I confess’, Luther writes, ‘that you (sc. Erasmus) have good reason to be moved by all these things. I myself was impressed by them for more than ten years that I think no one else has ever been so disturbed by them’. No less than the holiness of the church is endangered, if it would be possible for the church to err, i.e., to serve the false Gods, to transgress the first commandment. That could not happen.[44] ‘The church is hidden, the saints are unknown.’ But it is there, otherwise the promise of Christ (Matt. 28, 20; John 10, 28 etc.) would be empty. When all the people of God seemed to be on a path to perdition, Elijah thought he alone was left, but God had kept seven thousand for himself (1 Kings 19, 18). In Christ’s own time all the apostles fell away, and he himself was denied and condemned by the whole people, and barely more than a Nicodemus, a Joseph, and the thief on the cross were saved. In the time of the Arians, barely five Catholic bishops were preserved in the whole world, and they were driven from their seats. Nevertheless, even under these heretics Christ preserved his church, though in a way that was far from it being recognized and regarded as the church.

In main-stream orthodox Protestant doctrine, this line of thought of Luther’s was followed. In the seven witnesses I mentioned, the examples of Elijah and the Arian bishops return time after time. And Turrettini stresses how in the time of the passion of Christ the splendour and glory of the Church seemed to be lost.[45] The true Church often is l’église du désert.[46] Barth, reading Heppe, found the attribute of the infallibility of the Church that has to be believed, in connection with its attribute of sanctity and he defends it.[47] Thanks to recent critics like Kierkegaard and Kutter – after neglecting the whole question of the Church for years[48] –, he says, we have rediscovered the misery of the church in its present stage. But criticism cannot go as far as to give up believing in the visible church as the church that is maintained by Christ. You have to hold on to the dialectical connexion right there between confession and criticism that is implied in the doctrine of the church’s infallibility. In this respect, Barth keeps a catholic trait in reformational theology, and in my view we have to take care to keep the same trait, particularly in these days, in which the Roman Catholic Church is throwing itself into a deep ravine, by the (pretty undialectical) manner in which it maintains and asserts its own sinlessness.

3.3. For Luther, the holiness of the church is concluded from the holiness of Scripture,[49] and so it is for the Reformed orthodox authors.[50] So when you ask, where in the visible sphere to find the church in which you believe, you must seek the right preaching of the Word. In this connection, Barth encounters the old Protestant doctrine of the notae ecclesiae, about which he speaks in the third section of § 34.[51] The pure[52] explaining and proclaiming of the Word, accompanied by the right administration of the sacraments and by discipline, may be a sign that the invisible and infallible Church of Christ could be present here in this particular congregation. Now in the Lutheran tradition, there often exists a close connexion between the government of the congregation by the Word of Christ itself, and the public ministry, ordination or, you might say, the institutional aspect of the church. The potestas clavium, the power to forgive sins as implemented by those ordained, is in a certain sense a representation of the one eternal Word. On the other hand, Barth’s emphasis goes in quite another direction. The true church provides for the ministry of the word with the intention that this word will call people (‘die Kirche ist göttlich berufen, um menschlich zu berufen’).[53] Therefore, the church finds itself on the human side. In the beginning of the section, Barth compares the doctrine of the (in)visibility of the church with the doctrine of justification (for it is grace when the church we believe in can be seen in this world of corrupted communities, including the corrupted reality of church history up to now). Thus the doctrine of the notae ecclesiae should be compared to the doctrine of sanctification. It is not so much about ‘faith’ as about ‘obedience’, not so much about the authority for the remission of sins as about ecclesiastical organisation as an answer to the word. The pair justification/sanctification is very characteristic of Barth’s theological search for clarification from Romans II onwards, particularly in the Göttingen years (Calvin-lectures 1922!). However, the combination of the doctrine of sanctification, however typically ‘Reformed’ it may be, with the doctrine of the notae ecclesiae, I did not find anywhere in Reformed orthodoxy.[54] It is a construction that above all says very much about the preoccupations of Barth himself. I will come back to this later on in this paper.

4. The Doctrine of Predestination as a Presupposition to the Doctrine of the Church

Barth did find in Heppe the Reformed accent on the predestinarian foundation: the church as the communion of predestined people, the assembly of the chosen and effectively called people.[55] He could recognize this element from his former lectures on the Reformed confessions,[56] but a more important connection would be that he had been dealing with the relationship between predestination and the church when he was working on Romans II. He explicitly recalls this earlier work by twice in his 1925 lectures referring to the expressions ‘the Church of Jacob’ and ‘the Church of Esau’ from Romans 9ff.. He then applies the now developed dialectics of the invisible and the visible Church to these two names.[57]

In the second edition of his commentary Barth wrote among other things:

‘By its theme the church is divided into the Church of Esau – where no miracle occurs, and where, consequently, men are exposed as liars, precisely when they hear and speak about God; and the Church of Jacob – where miracle is, and where, consequently, the Truth appears above the deceit of men. The two Churches do not, of course, stand over against one another as two things. The Church of Esau alone is observable, knowable and possible. It can be seen in Jerusalem, or Rome, or Wittenberg, or Geneva. The past and the future can be comprehended without exception under its name… But the Church of Jacob is… the unobservable, unknowable, and impossible Church, capable neither of expansion nor of contraction; it has neither place nor name nor history… it is simply the free Grace of God, His Calling and Election; it is Beginning and End.’ [Rom. 9, 6b. “Not because they are all of the seed of Israel, are they Israel’:] ‘The totality of those who are the seed of Israel, the type of all who lift up hands to God in prayer, stand under the krisis of the twofold nature of the Church, or, putting it another way, they are under a “Double Predestination”. All are confronted by the eternal two-sided possibility, which moves and rests in God alone.’[58]  ‘We know already what this duality in God means. We know that it involves no equilibrium, but that it is the eternal victory of election over rejection, of love over hate, of life over death. But this victory is hidden from us in every moment of time. We cannot escape the duality, since the visible Jacob is for us Esau, and we can conceive of Jacob as the unobservable Esau. Thus it is that the Church, as we observe it, is confronted only by the possibility of rejection – which is in God eternally overcome. The election of the Church stands only by faith.’[59]

In 1925 we hear: the visible church as such could be the Church of Esau, and in its self-assurance never has any guarantee against the divine judgement of wrath, and therefore one must also believe in the visible church (sc. as a church in which the invisible Church of Jacob could become visible).

Regarding the confrontation between Barth – with his own earlier discoveries reading Paul – and the now newly read Reformed orthodoxy with regard to the connection of predestination and the church, we make the following remarks:

4.1. Barth’s interest in predestination is rooted in his intuition regarding the task of theology: first of all not to reflect what man thinks and feels about himself and about God, for that brings only ambivalence and uncertainty, but to trust in the thinking of God about us. However, what God thinks about us is hidden in his eternal judgement. Twice in this § 34 Barth quotes this sentence from the Bible and a hymn: ‘The Lord knoweth them that are his’ (2 Tim. 2:19).[60] During his later Safenwil and his Göttingen years, Barth did like this sentence very much.[61] He could find it in Heppe,[62] and when he kept looking he found it everywhere in the works of the Reformed orthodox fathers.[63] It raises doubts  regarding all identifications of a particular community with the ‘Jerusalem that God loves’; it means a crisis for all those communities, but at the same time also contains a great promise: God’s decisions may always be much more merciful and broad than we might assume from our own perspectives.

4.2. A theologian like Maresius explains that the meanings of the word (we could say: the signifier) ‘church’ are manifold, but that its quidditas cannot be expressed without referring the minor significata or analogata to its prominent head. Therefore it is (a) the ekklesia of the elect, to whom the effective divine calling is applied, and who are for this reason called eklektoi and klètoi, that have to be brought to perfection in Christ; but directly and mainly it is (b) the ministry of the church as organized in the particular communities, in which the catholic church exists. So the definition could be:

‘(the church is) a religious society of men, called to Christ from the midst of the whole of mankind, by the ministry of the word and according to the divine good will, in order that in Him they might be strengthened in grace and salvation.’[64]

There is a tension in this kind of reasoning. On the one side it is said: ‘in truth, only the elect are the true and genuine members of the church’.[65] If someone suggests that you can also take your starting-point in the mystical body of Christ, of which only the elect can be members, you then must also acknowledge that, to be sure, the name of the church ‘comes from a calling, but from such a calling that springs from predestination’.[66] But on the other side this raises questions. For how can the ministry of a particular church that exists within the universal or Catholic Church, know that a person that is called to faith by it, also is a chosen one in the eyes of the eternal God? It is impossible to know that! Therefore, the church from the perspective of eternal election and the church from the perspective of an institutional organisation or the brothers and sisters in the communion of the saints on earth may be not be quite the same, in spite of the assurance that there is only one church, although it has to be seen from two perspectives.[67]

In the history of the Reformed churches, this tension has led to dramatic, violent, and painful theological debates, and to ecclesiastical conflicts and separations, particularly in the Netherlands.[68] I wonder whether Barth had the faintest notion of that. What seems to be the most radical position identifies the eternal decision of election with the inauguration of the covenant of grace. In that ‘narrow’ view of being the true church, only predestined members can be taken up in the constitution of a church. But because nobody knows, who the predestined members actually are, a real edification of the community is rather impossible. The individual, in his or her fear and expectation, doubting their own election, is mercilessly thrown back onto him- or herself. The other position, more Catholic-Augustinian, makes a distinction between the elect and the members of the covenant of grace. In this ‘broader’ view the weeds grow up together with the corn, and only at harvest time, when the day of judgment has come, it will come to light which members of the body are really the elect. This last ‘solution’ is more pastoral, but in the end it may undermine the being of the church just as much. For what does it say about the preaching that was done, the sacrament that was administered, and the edification that was effected in the community, if it all appears to have been in vain when judgement is pronounced?

4.3. As has been said, at the end of his last summer semester in Göttingen, Barth did not have time to also consult the Lutheran counterpart to Heppe. Had he done that, he would have encountered a similar difficulty in a more moderate form. The orthodox Lutheran authors, quoted by Schmid, distinguish between the communion of the saints and believers on the one hand, and the communion of the elect on the other, for this ‘broader’ definition is more useful to work with. Apparently it doesn’t make sense to abandon the theme of predestination, once one is able to limit its reach in the whole of doctrinal ecclesiology.[69]  At the same time, the existence of an (unknown) number of elect is not denied.[70] Only the view that chosen people could exist outside the visible communion of the saints would have to be contested.[71] But in that respect there seems to be no difference with Reformed doctrine.[72] In our days, in which we must cross many borders, we have to rethink such statements from the point of view of our common heritage.

4.4. We conclude that there is a problem in the traditional relationship between predestination and the church in Reformed (and not only in Reformed) doctrine. The eternal divine decision concerning the number of chosen people, each individually elected, as such is not able to build up a community, although on the level of their vocation by way of the ministry of the church the same people come to believe in the environment of a communion.[73] From the very beginning Karl Barth abhorred the idea that some people should be elected and others condemned. So in Romans II he wrote:[74]

‘We are.. the Church of Jacob, the community of the elect. But who are “we”? Not, of course, this or that collection of people who can be quantitatively defined.[75] Not, of course, a numerus clausus. Indeed, not a numerus at all. Not the historical and describable Israel. It is God who here loves and elects and shows mercy. That means that all the visible distinctions which emerge, and must emerge, among men, are subjected to an invisible dissolution.’

And in § 18 of the Göttingen Dogmatics, where he wants to connect with the Reformed doctrine of the Gnadenwahl (Divine Choice  of Grace) in a positive way, he sharply takes distance from any division of the human race into two groups, the elect and the reprobate.[76] He holds to double predestination, but applies it actualistically: the same persons, hearing the Word of God, are condemned in terms of their belonging to the world of the past, the church of Esau, but at the same time they are mercifully called to His marvellous light. But how then, you have to ask, will Barth avoid an individualistic view of election, when each person is actualistically standing before his Judge? How is he able to speak in a real sense of a Church of Esau, a Church of Jacob?

Here I see progress in the doctrine of election in Church Dogmatics II/2 not only, as is generally known, because of its christological concentration, but also in its aspect of covenantal concentration. The church does not have a history, but it has a ‘story’, i.e., the Biblical one: not only Jacob and Esau, but also Abel and Cain, Ishmael and Isaac, David and Saul, Judah and Israel and so on. The last shall be first, and the first last. And that story takes place in a dialectic in motion full of cross-references: the chosen one who has some characteristics of the reprobate, the reprobate (Judas) who is not outside but inside the story of Christ himself. In Christ, the first-born in whom God pre-eminently took the rejection of man upon Himself, all the multi-coloured and continuously changing positions are included. Therefore in this way there is a community, more than you could say of the message of Romans II, but it is not a community of a firm and immovable identity, but of a field of fluid positions that are continuously challenging each other – in Christ. It must be possible along these lines, I presume, to set up a conversation between Karl Barth and a thinker like Giorgio Agamben, who currently is in search of a coming community beyond both globalistic levelling (‘we are all the same’) and identity politics (‘we are who we are’).[77]

4.5. In Romans II the name of Israel is for Barth only a mirror of or a substitution for the church in its different (negative and positive) connotations. In § 34 of 1925 it is the same, or even subject to less reflection.[78] A turning-point can be found in the Gifford Lectures of 1938, where dealing with the Confessio Scotica (art. 4-6) he speaks of Israel as the people of God (although it became disobedient) and after that of the united people of Jews and heathen.[79] As we know, in Church Dogmatics II/2 § 34 (‘The Election of the Community’) the relationship between these two entities is developed in depth and in parallel with a new, ongoing commentary on chapters 9-11 of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. Here too there is much progress – the discovery of Israel and Judaism for theology as such in the days of the Third Reich –, but there are also many problems. In my eyes, one of these problems is the following: between Israel and the ekklesia of Jews and heathen in the text of 1942, there is indeed a connection, the last who become first, but it all only moves in one direction. Here the roles of the chosen and the reprobate are fixed again. In 1922 it was: “we” are Esau, and it is a miracle when we become Jacob. In 1942: they are the Passing Man, under the sign of rejection; “we”, the Church of Jews and Heathen, are the Coming Man, under the sign of election. That is again a form of identity politics. It seems as if Barth’s discovery of the people of Israel has a price: its fixation. This should not be the last word in theology.

4.6. A last remark in this respect. As we know, in the doctrine of election in the Church Dogmatics the stories of the elect and the reprobate are connected and kept together by the category of the witness. Leitsatz CD § 34: ‘The election of grace, as the election of Jesus Christ, is simultaneously the eternal election of the one community of God by the existence of which Jesus Christ is to be attested to the whole world…’.[80] And the Leitsatz CD § 35: ‘…  The promise of his election determines that as a member of the community he (the individual) himself shall be a bearer of its witness to the whole world.’ [81] Barth did not find this category of the witness in Heppe’s doctrine of election or doctrine of the church. Nevertheless it is already found in § 34 of the Göttingen Dogmatics. Leitsatz: ‘…. These (the particular Christian churches, in which the catholic or universal church becomes visible) … honour God and are witnesses of the reign of His grace.’[82] Where did this category come from in this context, when it was not directly from Heppe? I make a suggestion and say: it came from Barth’s dialectical thought which he indeed did develop in his own way. As we have seen, he did recognize in the relationship, handed down from tradition, between the invisible and the visible church, the elect on the one side and the called and believing people on the other side, the church as the bride of the divine Word that is believed in, and the ministry of that Word that has to organize so that people are able to hear the Word. In his elaboration of this dialectic, Barth can say: ‘The work praises its master, the visible witnesses the invisible’.[83] It is already a witness of… (the reign of grace, the invisible church). It is not yet a witness to the world.

5. The Ecclesial Ministry

In the last half of the last lecture of the semester there was some time for Barth to refer to the last part of Heppe’s Locus XXVII: on the ministerium ecclesiasticum.[84] Barth immediately says: I am not speaking of the ecclesial Amt (office) but of Dienst (service).[85] Only its head Jesus Christ has an officium, and he doesn’t have any vicar or substitute on earth. Also the most that one can say of the commission to the apostles is that it is transferred to the members of the body of Christ together; for the categories of clerus and laity are papal and objectionable (Fr. Turrettini).[86] The ministry as verbi divini ministerium is due to the church as such, too. When it is entrusted to one individual this is only allowed to happen in the form of a delegation in the name of all the elect, called and believing people. Therefore the ministers of the divine Word must at the same time be ministers of the congregation, because it is the congregation that is commissioned to proclaim the divine word by the mouth of man. To be sure, there exists a vocatio extraordinaria outside the ecclesiastical procedures as a reference to the divine freedom, but normally the calling of God is affirmed by the ordinary calling of the congregation, yea, both will be in line with each other and coincide. Furthermore, it is not a matter of principle, whether this ecclesiastical calling is extended by the congregation as a whole, or by a representative body in it. At the same time it is in no way a dogmatic question, how a particular church wishes to set up this calling – Barth reminds his students here of their future exam.[87]

Besides a short survey of the four elements of the ministerium in the (far from uniform) Reformed practice – pastores, doctores, seniores, diaconi[88] –, Barth stresses that now, at the end of his lectures in Göttingen, he and his audience have come back to the starting-point of this “Unterricht”, which in the Prolegomena of the SS 1924 began with the position of the individual verbi divini minister, who in the pulpit performs a task given to him by the congregation (this is not a priesthood, nor a hierarchical office). The whole movement of dogmatics had to begin there, and now had to return to that beginning. For as a discipline dogmatics has no other task than to serve this ministry that theologians are called to pursue.

Concerning this passage we will now make two remarks: one on the latent congregationalism in Barth, and one on a gap that in my view can be pointed to in his reflections on the ministry.

5.1. In the first place we must continue with Barth’s statement, that it is ‘not a matter of principle whether this ecclesiastical call is extended by the congregation as a whole, or by a representative body in it.’ This statement is by Johannes Braunius. Indeed, Barth could find it in Heppe.[89] But then he continues: ‘(nor is it a matter of principle …,) whether the calling is executed in a democratic way by the congregation as a whole, or in an aristocratic way by a representation of this whole (“Gesamtheit”).’ According to my observation, Barth is here saying more than he could have read in Heppe. For all his witnesses seem to support what Heppe summarizes:

‘the inner and spiritual regiment – the autocratic potestas dominica Christi – is unambiguously monarchical. On the other hand, the potestas ministerialis, by which the church governs itself according to the order that was given by Christ himself, is not of a monarchical, nor of a democratic, but of an aristocratic nature.’[90]

Actually, this is the only position I could find. All the Reformed theologians quoted by Heppe are in favour of an aristocratic form of government,[91] and therewith of the ecclesia representativa (as presbyterium, synod of a province, and synod of a nation) as an important element by which to identify the visible true church.[92] Some of these – mostly continental – theologians explicitly distance themselves from the current they call Brownist or Independent, which we now know as Congregationalist. Van Mastricht, who perhaps was under pressure from certain circles in Reformed pietism, declares that the Presbyterian order is in accordance with that of the New Testament and grounded in the ius divinum.[93]Further on he discusses with them the issue of competency when making a decision in cases of excommunication. He does not deny that the keys of the reign of heaven are given to the whole of the community. Nevertheless he stresses that Jesus has given the usus of this authority to the ecclesia repraesentativa or presbyterium (1 Tim. 4, 14).[94] And finally he defends the thesis that the potestas gubernandi cannot be, as is the opinion of these English groups, a matter of the whole congregation. They go too far in pursuing equality, and even democracy (apparently for Mastricht this is a category with the least possible positive connotation. For him it comes close to anarchy). Could you imagine that women and children would also have something to say in this government? That would be a misunderstanding of Christian freedom (Gal. 5, 1)![95]

Barth 1925 calls the question: ‘aristocratic or democratic government in the ecclesiastical ministry?’ an indifferent one. So it remains in his Scottish lectures of 1938.[96] However, after World War II his utterances will become more pronounced. In his paper The Church – the Living Congregation of the Living Lord Jesus Christ, written for the first assembly of the World Council of Churches in 1948, he ends with an undeniable plea for the English Congregationalists of the 17th Century, under the descendents of which he observes an interestingcontribution to theological and ecumenical renewal.[97]  A balanced reasoning about the benefits and disadvantages of Presbyterianism and Congregationalism, respectively, he does not offer (neither in this paper, nor, as far as I know, elsewhere).[98] But the intentions of his intervention are clear. The self-government of the congregation, in obedience to its government by the Word, Barth says, makes the best chances in the so-called young churches. This is a new situation for Christian missions. But there is also another context, which he points to with a reference to an older quotation by Friedrich Loofs, who had spoken of congregationalism as an alternative vis-à-vis the presumable decline of the Landeskirchen of the old world.[99] In 1947 Barth read this paper to an audience in several German cities, e.g., in the totally destroyed Dresden. I presume that elucidates at least partly his newly acquired resolution. The German people had to begin from scratch, and the same was true for the German church. The old system of the Landeskirche was probably not capable of self-renewal, but people had to learn how to organize themselves: a democratic congregation (‘Christengemeinde’) as the kernel for the renewal of society as a congregation (‘Bürgergemeinde’). That was his perspective, and we have to read his now far more explicit distance to the ‘aristocratic’ tradition in main-stream continental Protestantism from that perspective.

5.2. In his annotations on the Dutch translations of Barth’s Utrecht lectures on the Apostles’ Creed in 1935, K.H. Miskotte wrote: ‘So far the question of the offices (de ambten) has rarely entered Barth’s horizon. Also one cannot say that the foundation of the ministry (het ambt) in the small number of places he speaks about it is satisfactory’.[100] Two years later, in June 1937, Miskotte jotted down some questions for a conversation with Barth in Basel, among which the following: ‘Is it possible to say that the offices (de ambten) come up from the ministry (het ambt) of the believers?’ And to his dismay as Barth’s answer he had to note in the margin: ‘Kuyper is not bad in my eyes’ (‘Kuyper gefällt mir hier nicht schlecht’).[101] After studying § 34 of the Göttingen Dogmatics we don’t need to be as dismayed as Miskotte was. For already there, Barth sees the ministry as a calling to the whole congregation, which may delegate it to a professional theologian only in a non-principal way. Nevertheless, I can understand Miskotte’s confusion to a certain degree. For why is Barth so existentially engaged in the task of the preacher, why the repeated accentuation of the loneliness and the special temptation of the verbi divini minister,[102] if he only fulfils an order that every member of the body of Christ must fulfil, better even, which he actually fulfils in the subjective reality of revelation? Barth develops a theology for ministers and he wants to break down the self-confidence of the guild of theologians and give the task back to the congregation as a whole. There is a contradiction here, and I wonder why he does not seem to be willing to reflect on it. For although as a minister, he himself was also preaching on ‘the relationship of the preacher and his congregation’,[103] I cannot remember ever reading a (theological, perhaps also sociological) reflection by him on his own role as a theologian with an increasingly special authority, in a church that in his eyes in principle should not have any special ministry. Can we say there is a gap in his thinking here?

6. An Excursus on the Doctrine of the Church in Protestant Orthodoxy in the Church Dogmatics

The traces of Barth’s conversation with Heppe on the locus De Ecclesia are not so easy to find in the Church Dogmatics. In a general sense one might say that the parallel between the doctrine of the invisible and visible church (as the church in which we must believe) with the doctrine of justification, and the marks of the visible Church and its ministry with the doctrine of sanctification,[104] was elaborated through the parallel between CD IV/1 § 62 (2. The Being of the Community) and CD IV/2 § 67 (Growth, Upbuilding and Order of the Community).

At the beginning of the argument of what he calls the third point of view, however, Barth in an excursus gives an important criticism of Protestant ecclesiology of the 16th and 17th century. The statement of 1925, partly borrowed from J.H. Heidegger:

‘the ecclesia is the coetus hominum ekklètentȏn, that is of those people who are called out of the imprisonment of sin and death…, called to repentance and the remission of sins and to the hope of life eternal, called into the reign of grace, the reign of Christ’,[105] now is formulated: ‘called out of the world, the community is genuinely called into it’.[106]

This shift already points to the new point of view: CD IV/3, § 72.2 is called ‘The Community for the World.’ The criticism is, that Reformation and post-Reformation theology, as before it patristic and scholastic theology, did not show any awareness of the importance of this point of view.[107]

At the beginning of the excursus Barth sketches two lines along which the church is traditionally defined. The first line is the formal one. One can find it in the famous Article Augustana VII and after that in the doctrine of the notae ecclesiae. The second line is more materio-personal and takes it’s starting point in the gathering of people into one flock, i.e., in the communio sanctorum.[108] These two lines were brought together in the concept of the ecclesia synthetica, in contrast with the ecclesia repraesentativa[109] – above (in section 5) we had already heard that Barth abhorred this possibility of identifying the church with its representative body (either the Lutheran Lehrstand or the Reformed presbyterium). We may observe that Barth here is following a different classification than he had chosen in 1925. Now there are these two lines, with a horrible and soon forgettable side-line; at that time there was the dialectic of the invisible and the visible church, the community of the chosen people, on the one side, and the reference to that invisible church in the visible church, the anhypostatical incarnation of the former in the midst of the ambivalences of the latter. For this moment Barth seems to have left this dialectical thought, and replaced it by the sketch of the ‘two lines’.[110]

And then Barth argues for a third line that was underdeveloped in tradition. When the theology of the 16th and 17th century is faced with the question: ‘for what purpose is all this?’ there is no answer, or an unsatisfactory answer. In the latter case, as an answer to the question of the causa finalis of the church, reference is made to ‘the glory which God procures for himself in the existence of a particular people which rightly knows and worships and magnifies him’ as a finis principalis, and to ‘the translation of certain men, members of this people, out of darkness into light, out of a state of wrath into a state of grace’ as a finis subordinatus.[111] Barth’s issue with this is: in such descriptions the church tends to be an end in itself in its existence as the community and the institution of salvation (further on Barth speaks of this church suffering from a ‘holy egoism’).[112] In this way the existence of the church as such and that of its members seems to be the ultimate goal of the ways of God. Barth quotes Turrettini, who at the beginning of his Locus De ecclesia says: one of the reasons we must speak about the church is that the Trinitarian God promised to the Christ that through his work as a Mediator he would obtain a church for the communion of his grace.[113] But again: for what purpose? The ecclesia seems to be there, to constitute a closed circle and a perfect world apart in the midst of the rest of the world in all its imperfection. What then does the ecclesia militans actually have to struggle for? Why the lack of joy in mission, or even unreadiness for it? ‘And did not and does not the practice of this church rather stand under the slogan: The world for the church, than its opposite: The church for the world?’ So far the sharply formulated reproaches against (post-)reformational tradition.

6.1. We now must check, whether Barth in his criticism has correctly reproduced the position of the orthodox Reformed tradition. To do so, two aspects will require our attention.

The first points to the dimension of mission in the life and purpose of the congregation. Is this dimension indeed totally missing, e.g., in the books of our seven witnesses? I have to acknowledge that there are very few places where our authors talk about it. In his locus on ministry, for instance, Bucanus reflects on the difference between the sending out of the twelve apostles in Luke 9 and that of the seventy-two in Luke 10, and on the difference between mission before and after the ascension of the Lord. But in that context, when he had the opportunity, he fails to reflect on the continuation of the mission of the ministry.[114] More detailed and to the point, Mastricht considers activities for the propagation and amplification of the church to be part of the task of a Christian: not only internally, in a mystical deepening of faith, but also externally, in going to the Mohammedani, Judaei, Haeretici, Schismatici to call them to conversion.[115] We can suspect some influence from pietistic movements here. At the same time we have to say: what is meant here is the extension of the church, not service to the world, as Barth desires.

The other point relates to Barth’s complaint that in this tradition the world seems to be there for the church. In this respect it is important to stress that all the authors quoted by Heppe, fully and with firm conviction adhere to the Constantinian order in the corpus christianum (here too, the results might have been different, if Heppe would have broadened his concept of ‘reformed’ tradition a bit, and included, e.g., some of the English dissenters into his horizon). In the area of church government one used to distinguish – something Barth 1925 totally neglected, or for reasons of want of time had to neglect – a gubernatio ecclesiae ecclesiastica (or spiritualis) and a gubernatio ecclesiae civilis.[116]Therefore, the ius circa sacra of the magistrate was part of ecclesiology, as it was already in Book IV of Calvin’s Institutio (in its last edition) and in the Reformed confessions of the time of the Reformation. The presbyterium had a certain responsibility of its own in its relationship to the magistrate, it was claimed, but on the other hand a close cooperation between the two institutes responsible for the well-being of the church was pursued.[117] As an example we can look at the theme De conciliis that can be found in almost all our witnesses, mostly with an anti-papist tendency.[118] They fight against the arrogance of the Pope, as if he were the person with the right authority to call for such a broader assembly of the church, and they stress that since the first Ecumenical Council it has always been the emperor who convoked it – and that this should remain so; if there is no emperor, the national magistrate must do it.[119] In the twenties of the last century, Barth did not realize how untenable such theses had become in the mean time.[120] The experiences in the thirties would force him to take distance from the whole of this tradition. And Church Dogmatics IV/3 would seal this development for him.

6.2. But now we live more than half a century after CD IV/3. An intense history of its reception lies behind us. Must we also today only underline the progress Barth has made with the introduction of his third line: the community for the world?

Looking back at its reception history, I am sure that Barth’s view has inspired many people in different contexts toward new ways of being church. But at the same time I also see a danger in it. ‘Community for the world’: it can become and it has become a slogan, a identity-marker. ‘We’, progressive churchmen and women, we represent the alternative shape of the church, we have found our new identity in the program, discovered along this line of our availability for ‘the world’. One can also say the same thing differently: as a slogan, the statement may have a modernistic aura, or the character of a ‘grand narrative’. It seems to be about unselfish words and deeds, but at the same time also declares a certain community to be the subject of change, the ‘avant-garde of the divine revolution’. A main point for Giorgio Agamben is the observation that a minority that finds its kernel of resistance in a contra-identity, therewith – exactly as also an identity – always also can be identified by the dominant political power and in this way becomes part of its power-play. Instead of that, Agamben is searching for ‘singularities’ that build a community without claiming a new identity for themselves.[121] The coming community comes unexpectedly, blowing from the future, it is and it is not beyond any grasp.[122] In prophetic terms this coming community will show the characteristics of a remnant (Rom. 11, 5[123]). It is obvious that such a community will exist beyond modernistic slogans. In the conversation about such a community it could be that Barth’s earlier thoughts in the twenties on the church as a community could become extremely powerful in a new way. A number of chosen pople exist that is not actually in any way a number. There is the communion between them that cannot be identified, for nobody knows who they are (only ‘the Lord knoweth them that are his’). They are hidden, but nevertheless they have to be there in the midst of the ambivalences of the visible world. In that world they are witnesses, but perhaps more in their desubjectivation (‘église du désert’) than as newly empowered subjects.[124] They are constituted by an event, as the beginning of the end of time (and as the ‘limit’ of history as usual), but as yet the shape of the community of Esau is more visible than that event that is the future of Jacob. Etc. etc.

In that last week of July 1925, Barth had to bring his own insights, obtained by reading Paul, in conversation with orthodox Reformed doctrines like that of the constitution of the community by predestination, and the dialectics (not the duality!) of the invisible and the visible church, of the church as a community to believe in and as a congregation that must be shaped. Re-reading this conversation may provide us with new inspiring insights. Neither Barth nor the orthodox Reformed theologians must be held responsible for these insights. But without them, would these insights have come to us? Perhaps the old Reformed textbook of Heppe can function as the match that will help us kindle a new fire.

[1] K. Barth, “Unterricht in der christlichen Religion”. Dritter Band. Die Lehre von der Versöhnung/Die Lehre von der Erlösung 1925/1926, Herausgegeben von Hinrich Stoevesandt, Zürich: Theologischer Verlag 2003, 349-377.  On the evening of Monday, the 27th, his preparation was interrupted by a torchlight procession in front of his home, a spontaneous reaction on the part of the entire student body of the department to the announcement of his probable departure to Münster (Unterricht III, 350-351, footnote). Cf. Bruce L. McCormack, Karl Barth’s Critically realistic Dialectical Theology. Its Genesis and Development 1909-1936, Oxford / New York: Oxford University Press 1997, 374.

[2] Obviously he didn’t have time now to consult the corresponding textbook by Heinrich Schmid, Die Dogmatik der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche. Dargestellt und aus den Quellen belegt (first edition 1843, neu herausgegeben und durchgesehen von Horst Georg Pöhlmann, Gütersloh: Gerd Mohn, 1990). However, we will consult it below on at least one point.

[3] Cf. H. Heppe, Die Dogmatik der evangelisch-reformierten Kirche. Neu durchgesehen und herausgegeben von Ernst Bizer, Neukirchen: Neukirchener Verlag 1958, second edition (henceforth: HpB), opens this locus as follows: ‘Because in his decree of grace (Gnadenratschluss) God calls all the elect to the enjoyment of one grace, and because by virtue of his eternal decree of grace He does not accept them separately into his covenant of grace (Gnadenbund) and plant them in Christ, but as a community, therefore all the people in the covenant of grace as members of the one mystical body of Christ do belong to one congregation…’. At the beginning of his Leitsatz (Unterricht III, 349) Barths adopts the expressions ‘one grace’, ‘election’ (from eternity), ‘one body of which Christ is the head’ (including the italics), and after that quotes ‘the invisible community of all that are called together’. However, he ignores the technical terms ‘Gnadenratschluss’ and  ‘Gnadenbund’. For these terms, see my paper on Federal Theology for the previous consultation (ZDTh Supplement Series 4, 2010, 160-208).

[4] HpB 525-527 and 534-539, the Belegstellen (references) nrs. 1-10; Barth, Unterricht III (ref. 1), 350-359. Barth here adds on 358-359 the appointment of the church as the mother of the believers from HpB 528 and 543, Belegstelle 21 (Olevianus).

[5] HpB 527-528 and 539-540, the Belegstellen nrs. 11-17; Barth, ibid., 359-366.

[6] HpB 528-529 and 540-543, the Belegstellen nrs. 18-20; Barth, ibid., 366-372.

[7] HpB 529-531 and 543-549, the Belegstellen nrs. 22-41; Barth, ibid., 372-377.

[8] HpB 531-534 and 546-556, with the sub-sections: general remarks, Belegstellen nrs. 42-44; a. potestas ministerii or potestas clavii, Belegstellen nrs. 45-48; b. potestas ordinis, Belegstellen nrs. 49-50; c. disciplina ecclesiastica, Belegstellen nrs. 51-52 and finally some remarks on the gubernatio ecclesiae civilis, Belegstellen 53-57. None the less, in his Leitsatz Barth spoke of ‘die Gewalt, die mit diesem Dienst verbunden ist’ (the power that is connected with this ministry), Unterricht III, 350, so we may conclude that had there been enough time, he would have spoken about these matters too. And he was able to integrate the question of discipline in his treatment of the ‘third’ nota ecclesiae sub 3, 370-371, cf. footnote 52.

[9] More precisely, we find in the footnotes of Stoevesandt 33 quotations of 16 authors.

[10] HpB 10.

[11] Guilelmus Bucanus, Institutiones theologicae seu locorum communium Christianae religionis ex Dei verbo et praestantissimorum theologorum, orthodoxo consensu expositorum, analysis. I used the third edition, Bern: Le Preux 1605 (especially pages 489-598), HpB used the 1609 Geneva edition – In many respects Lausanne lies ‘in between’ Geneva and Bern!

[12] A reference that will remain a topos also in later witnesses of Reformed orthodoxy, e.g. Maresius XVI.52, Turrettinus XVIII.9.14 etc.

[13] Cf. also Bucanus, Institutiones Theologicae XLI.26 on the bearing of the cross not as much as a nota ecclesiae, but as a condition under with the Lord will be recognized by those who are conformed to his image.

[14] E.g., Wolleb’s definitions: of the invisible church (nr. 16), of the extraordinary ministry (nr. 30), of the pastors (nr. 32), of the doctors (nr. 38), of the vocation of the ministers (main text, p. 530) or his canon: ‘the author and founder of the power of the church is Christ’ (nr. 42).

[15] Johannes Wollebius, Christianae Theologiae Compendium, Basel 1626. I also used the Dutch translation, ‘Kort Begryp van de Christelicke Godts-Geleertheydt’, third ed., Amsterdam: Van Ravesteijn 1664, 205-247. Cf. my paper on Polanus for the 2005 Consultation in ZDTh Supplement Series 3 (2007), 51-110.

[16] Cf. the polemics with the notae ecclesiae as unfolded by cardinal Bellarminus, XXV canon 29, following the sentences as quoted by Heppe in nr. 20.

[17] Samuelis Maresii, Systema theologicum. HpB uses the 1662 Genevan edition (Editio sexta), I consulted the Groningen edition (Spinneker) of 1673, 809-952. The concept of a ‘systema’ seems not to be meant in the methodological sense of B. Keckermann and his pupils. The dissertation of Doede Nauta, Samuel Maresius, Amsterdam: Paris, 1935 (622 pp.), offers a lot of material on his life and work; for the editions of the Collegium or Systema respectively see p. 11-13 (nr. 32): Nauta is in no way concerned with Maresius’ originality or with his labour as a systematic theologian (cf. p. 282-283).

[18] From Church Dogmatics I/1 onwards, Barth usually quotes Turrettinus from his own copy of the Institutio.

[19] Franciscus Turrettinus, Institutio Theologiae Elencticae: HpB uses the Genevan editio nova (De Tournes) of 1688-1690, Pars tertia et ultima 1-374, and so do I. Barth would have possessed  the 1679 edition.

[20] The order of the questions in this tract is explained in the beginning of q. 16: status internum (qq. 1-11), status externum (qq. 12-15), regimen ecclesiae (qq. 16-34).

[21] Also quoted by HpB 541 (nr. 18). The English translation here and in the rest of this paper is taken from Fr. Turrettini,  Institutes of Elenchtic Theology, translated by George Musgrave Giger, edited by James T. Dennison Jr., Volume 3, Phillipsburg NJ: P&R Publishing 1976, 121.

[22] Only q. 8 (on the perpetuality of the church) is formulated against the Socinians, q. 22 (on the importance of a public ministry) against the fanatics and enthusiasts, 1.28 (on the income of the pastors) against the Anabaptists and qq. 29 and 32 (on the role of the magistrate in general and especially in a process of excommunication) against Erastus.

[23] See the two beautifully composed lectures ‘Der Begriff der Kirche’ (1927) and ‘Der römische Katholizismus als Frage an die protestantische Kirche’ (1928), now in: K. Barth, Vorträge und kleinere Arbeiten 1925-1930, Zürich: Theologischer Verlag 1994, 140-159 and 303-344. I fully agree with Bruce McCormack’s counter-plea to Reinhard Hütter in Orthodox and Modern, Studies in the Theology of Karl Barth, Grand Rapids: Baker 2008, 230-31 footnote: Roman Catholicism was not yet an important discussion partner for Barth in Göttingen.

[24] ‘Den seltsamen Ruhm wird man mir, wie man auch sonst von mir denke, lassen müssen: dass seit der Reformation keine Gestalt evangelischer Theologie dort (bei der römisch-katholischen Theologie) so viel kritische, aber doch auch positive und jedenfalls ernstliche Teilnahme gefunden hat, wie sie mir nun widerfährt’, K. Barth, ‘How my mind has changed, 1948-1959, in: Der Götze wackelt, Berlin: Käthe Vogt Verlag 1961, (200-209)207.

[25] On Turrettini and the Church of Rome of his days cf. G. Keizer, Francois Turrettini, Sa vie et ses oeuvres et le consensus, Kampen/Lausanne: Bos 1900, 250. One is curious to learn whether § 64 of Barth’s lectures during the Wintersemester in Münster 1927/28 (‘Die Kirche’), until now unedited, show any traces of his encounter with Roman Catholicism there. Stoevesandt (Unterricht III, 350-351, footnote)  only records the Leitsatz of it.

[26] HpB uses the Latin edition of the Theologia Christiana ex puris SS. Literarum fontibus hausta, Geneva, 1686. There is also a French edition, which was translated into Dutch and provided with an introduction by Johannes Wesselius, professor in Leiden: De christelijke God-geleertheid en kennis der zaligheid, of verklaring der waarheden, die God aan de menschen in de heilige Schrift heeft geopenbaart, ’s Gravenhage: Van Thol 1728-1729. The division of books and chapters is not the same in the Latin and the French editions. Here we follow the French edition. There Book XIV (Den Haag edition II, 323-476) consists of 38 Chapters, of which 1-16 deal with the name, members, attributes and notae of the church, 17-27 with the head and the ministers of the Church, and 28-38 with the Potestas Ecclesiae.

[27] HpB uses Johannes Marckius, Compendium theologiae Christianae didactico elencticum, Amsterdam 1690. The Dutch translation, Het merch der christene Got-geleertheit, 5th ed., Rotterdam: Topyn 1748, was done by à Marck himself.

[28] Locus XXXII: On the True Church or the Congregation of God (Het Merch, 866-903); Locus 33: On the Distinguished Government of the Church (Het Merch, 904-962).

[29] Petrus van Mastricht, Theoretico-Practica Theologia, qua per singula capita Theologica, pars exegetica, dogmatica, elenchtica & practica, perpetua successione conjugantur, 9th ed., Trajectum ad Rhenum: Paddenburg 1724. Liber Septimus, De Ecclesia & ecclesiasticalibus, consists of seven chapters: 1. De natura ecclesiae, Eph. 5.25 (866-885); 2. De Ecclesiae Ministris, Eph 4.11-12 (885-905); 3-5. De sacramentis….; 6. De Ecclesiae disciplina, Matth. 16.19 (945-955) ; 7. De Ecclesiae gubernatione, 1 Tim. 5.17 (955-962).

[30] Barth, Unterricht III, 350-351. The concept of the limit (which in Barth had a Kantian, or more even a Platonic origin, plays an important role in the second edition of his commentary on Romans; cf. the heading of Rom. 7, 1-6: ‘Die Grenze der Religion’ (English translation, The Epistle to the Romans, London: Oxford University Press 1933, 21968: ‘The Frontier of Religion’. Apparently for Barth as grace is the frontier of religion, the church is the frontier of history.

[31] Alain Badiou, L’être et l’événement, Paris : Du Seuil 1988; Engl. Transl. Being and Event, London/New York: Continuum 2005.

[32] J.H. Heidegger, HpB 534 nr. 2: coetus hominum ekklèthentȏn, and HpB 526: coetus hominum…, quos Deus… e statu peccati in statum gratiae ad aeternam gloriam vocat’; Barth, Unterricht III, 351-352: ‘Der aus der Gefangenschaft der Sünde und des Todes, aus der Miseria der verdammten Menschen, aus der massa perditionis der Verlorenen und Verdammten Herausgerufenen, der zur Busse und Vergebung der Sünden, zur Hoffnung des ewigen lebens Aufgerufenen, der ins Reich der Gnade, in das Reich Christi Hineingerufenen.’

[33] Cf. K. Barth, “Unterricht in der christlichen Religion”. Erster Band. Prolegomena. SS 1924, herausgegeben von Hannelotte Reiffen, Zürich: Theologischer Verlag 1985, 163. There Barth sketches his plan for the doctrine of revelation, i.e., the famous threesome: Trinity, Incarnation and the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And then he announces: ‘the last paragraph of our chapter will deal with the place or the reality of revelation, i.e., the church’. Afterwards, Barth placed brackets around these words, for he was not able to work out this paragraph for his lectures. In my perception Barth did realize his intentions in § 16.1 of the Church Dogmatics:‘The Holy Spirit and the Subjective Reality of Revelation’ (KD I/2, 222-264; CD I/2, 203-242), where the objectivity of the church is considered as a highly important element of this subjective reality (whereby Barth makes a retraction in relation to the experiment in the Christliche Dogmatik im Entwurf of 1927, with its reference to the conscience of a Christian of his baptism, as a more or less ‘sacramental knowledge of himself’; cf. KD I/2, 225; CD I/2, 205-206). In this way, the doctrine of the church is incorporated into the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and the doctrine of revelation as a whole is divided into three and not into four parts, as was the intention in 1925 (cf. the division of the third and the fourth part of the Institutio of John Calvin in its last edition, on the work of the Holy Spirit and the church respectively, in their differentiation and in their interconnectedness).

[34] Barth, Unterricht III, 9. See also footnote 18 by the editor, in which other places are mentioned where Barth contrasts the concepts of church and history in those years.

[35] K. Barth, Unterricht III, 362-363: ‘when you look at the Church only in its visibility, … you look at it, apart from grace, … as at a manifestation that belongs to the world of sin.’ Cf. K. Barth, ‘Die Kirche und die Kultur’, Vorträge und kleinere Arbeiten 1925-1930 (ref. 23), (6-40), 11 (also 34): Sin as ‘Die theologische Kehrseite des geschichtlich-soziologischen Aussenaspekts der Kirche’.

[36] K. Barth, Unterricht III, 10. The Dutch theologian Jan Koopmans defined the Church as ‘the place where Christ wants to live together with sinners’. See his De Nederlandse Geloofsbelijdenis, Amsterdam: Holland 1939, 171.

[37] K. Barth, Unterricht III, 10-11. Cf. G. Agamben’s assignment of the differentiation in Paul between ‘the time of the end’ and ‘the end of time’ in his The Time That Remains. A Commentary to the Letter to the Romans, Stanford CA: Stanford University Press 2005, 62.

[38] In KD I/2, 236 (CD I/2, 216) Barth goes as far as to assert that there is a correspondence between the way the church is dependent on the Word of Grace and the anhypostasis of the human nature of Christ. In that way you would have to say that the church does not exist in any way outside of receiving the divine act of grace in Christ. In 1925 this is said using covenantal semantics: ‘Sie ist ganz und gar Gemeinschaft in der Gebundenheit an Gott’, K. Barth, Unterricht III, 352.

[39] K. Barth, Unterricht III, 35-354. In 1927, in his lecture ‘Der Begriff der Kirche’, he positively quotes the Catechismus Romanus: ‘fide solum intellegimus, in Ecclesia claves caelorum esse eique postestatem peccata remittendi… etc.’, Vorträge und kleinere Arbeiten 1925-1930 (ref. 23), 150-159. Also KD IV/1, 735 (CD IV/1, 658-59).

[40] Pictetus, Christelyke God-Geleertheid XIV.8: respectu communionis internae cum Christo invisibilis, .. respectu professionis externae vel respectu regiminis et gubernationis sacrae visibilis. HpB 527, K. Barth, Unterricht III, 359 and 361.

[41] H. Bavinck, Gereformeerde dogmatiek IV, Kampen: Kok 1911, 314ff. (nr. 489).

[42] Luther also made use of the category of the invisibility of the church, beginning with his dictata super psalterium, 1513-16. Initially it is more or less used in a neoplatonic sense: the true church in heaven is a comfort vis-à-vis the imperfection of the church on earth for the monk in his troubles (as later on it will be for weeping pietists). But gradually Luther develops the category  in a far more theological, and for him that means, a far more realistic direction. The invisible church, that is Christ, who is realistically present on earth – namely on the cross. Cf. Hans Joachim Iwand, Luthers Theologie, Nachgelassene Werke 5, second ed., München: Kaiser 1983, 235ff.

[43] In: WA 18, De servo arbitrio, 649-652. In the English translation, The Bondage of the Will, trans. By Philipp S. Watson in collaboration with Benjamin Drewery, Luther’s Works 33, Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1972, 85-92, the editors give this passage the heading: ‘The True Church, Which Does Not Err, Is Hidden from Men’s Sight’.

[44] The holiness of the church is endangered in terms of it erring doctrinally, not from the point of view of the  lives of the saints failing to be holy. The latter is a secondary issue for Luther, because the life consecrated to God is always overshadowed by the need for penitence. For him, therefore, the Church is also ‘the place where Christ wants to live together with sinners’.

[45] Fr. Turrettini, Institutio Theologiae Elenchticae, XVIII q. 9, 11: Sic tempore passionis in magna obscuritate & ad paucissimos redactam fuisse Ecclesiam constat, Apostolis fugientibus & deferentibus Christum,& nonnullis etiam abnegantibus; ubi tunc fuit splendor & gloria Ecclesiae? (Thus in the time of his passion it is evident that the church was reduced to great obscurity and to the very fewest numbers, the apostles fleeing and deserting Christ and some even denying him. Where then was the glory and splendour of the Church?).

[46] See above, footnote 12 (Bucanus, Maresius, Turretinus). L’église du désert was the name of clandestine French Protestantism in the period between the abolition of the Edict of Nantes, 1685, and the French Revolution.

[47] Barth, Unterricht III, 355-356. Cf. e.g. Maresius, Systema XVI.60-61.

[48] In the eyes of Barth, liberal theology maintained an undialectical division of the ideal invisible Church and the negligible visible one. In my observation, the decline of the reformational-dialectical doctrine of infallibility already begins in later orthodoxy itself. For instance, Pictetus, Christelijke God-geleertheid XIV.8, only asks: what am I able to see, and what can I not see, concerning the Church? But that way of questioning is much too easy. And the pietistic à Marck, Compendium XXXII.26, mainly stresses the fallibility of the existing Church on earth and seems to almost forget the dialectical counterpart of that.

[49] The section on the true Church in De servo arbitrio is followed by a section on ‘Scripture, with its Clarity, as the Test of Truth’, WA 18, 652-659.

[50] E.g., Pictetus, Christelyke God-geleertheid XIV.4.6. connects the holiness of the Church with the holiness of the preached word and of the sacraments (but also with her election and her receiving guidance from the Holy Spirit).

[51] Barth, Unterricht III, 366-372. If I am seeing this correctly, in his Church Dogmatics Barth does no longer feel the need to speak about this doctrine in the context in which it was dealt with in Protestant orthodoxy (perhaps mostly KD IV/2, 700; CD IV/2, 618).

[52] The ‘pure docetur’ of CA VII is not yet ‘Puritanism’, for it points less to a program as a minimum and a norm for being Church.

[53] Barth, Unterricht III, 368.

[54] Maresius, Systema XVI.26, on the doctrine of the notae ecclesiae: ‘we don’t know in a true sense which might be the true church, for we don’t know who are the people that accept  the truth through a true faith. For here it is about that comparative judgement between different communities, whether any of them most probably has the traits of the true church’ (- and of course, after such a comparison in XVI.42 the Reformed church appears to be the church that teaches the most pure doctrine). Here the notae, as part of the speaking of the visible church, seem to prepare for a discipline like the Comparative Study of Religions, be it yet from a confessional point of view.

[55] Barth, Unterricht III, 360: footnote 28 shows that the first expression is not taken up literally from Mastricht, Theologia VII.1.5 (HpB erroneously VII.1.4). Cf. Also Unterricht III, 352: ‘Ewige Erwählung begründet sie (die Kirche), Berufung realisiert sie, im Glauben und Gehorsam der vom heiligen Geist trotz alles ihres Elends Erfüllten und Getriebenen lebt sie und webt sie.’

[56] K. Barth, Die Theologie der reformierten Bekenntnisschriften SS 1923, hrsg. Von Eberhard Busch, Zürich: Theologischer Verlag 1998. Important are pages 207-209 which praise the doctrine of the Church in the Confessio Scotica that Barth (with some interesting changes in his perspective) would come back to in public in his lectures of 1938 in Aberdeen: Gotteserkenntnis und Gottesdienst nach reformatorischer Lehre, Zürich: EBZ 1938, 154-182.

[57] K. Barth, Unterricht III, 360 (cf. footnote 29) – ‘the true Israel, the people of God, the “Church of Jacob”’ – and 363 (cf. footnote 38) – ‘the church that belongs to the world of sin… an ambivalent phenomenon, the religious community as such, undoubtedly not Israel, but Moab, the synagogue of apostasy, the Church of Esau, the Church of the Antichrist… the Whore of Babylon’: these are all still current expressions for orthodox Reformed theologians.

[58] K. Barth, The Epistle to the Romans (ref. 30),341-343. Rom. 9: the tribulation of the Church (9, 6-13: the God of Jacob, 9, 14-29 the god of Esau), Rom. 10: the Guilt of the Church, Rom. 11: the Hope of the Church.

[59] K. Barth, The Epistle to the Romans, 347-348 (on Rom. 9, 13 = Mal. 1, 2-3).

[60] K. Barth, Unterricht III, 353 cf. footnote 6, 360 cf. footnote 32 (indirectly via Wollebius); also 123 (in § 29). The song of Ph. Spitta (1843) with this verse as his first line (‘Es kennt der Herr die Seinen’, Evangelisches Gesangbuch 1992 nr. 358) as a whole is a song of comfort, encouragement, and joy, of faith, hope, and love. It does not show the element of double predestination.

[61] Some references: The Epistle to the Romans, 384 (to Rom. 10, 15; not in the index; the new edition in the Gesamtausgabe (Zürich: Theologischer Verlag, 2010) also mentions quotations of it in the passages of the commentary to Rom. 8, 28-30, 9, 12-15, 11:25-27, moreover, the recent Dutch translation to 12, 2); Predigten 1920, Zürich 2005: Theologischer Verlag, 241; Die Theologie der reformierten Bekenntnisschriften (ref. 56),338 (in the discussion on the second Canon of the Dordracenum).

[62] In Locus XXVII HpB 540, nr. 16: invisibilis ecclesia est coetus tantum electorum – Invisibilis autem nominatur non quod homines ad eam pertinentes non videantur qua homines, sed quod non cernantur qua electi; solus enim Deus novit, qui sint sui: Wollebius, Compendium I caput 25 canon 5 with annotatio (cf. also in the annotation to canon 29 against Bellarminus).

[63] Some examples: Bucanus, Institutiones Theologicae XLI.7; Maresius, Systema XVI.20; Fr. Turrettinus, Institutio Theologiae Elenchticae XVIII.7.8 and XVIII.7.16; Pictetus, Christelyke God-Geleertheid  XIV.10.

[64] Maresius, Systema XV.6: Quum vox Ecclesiae sit ita polusèmos non potest certa definitione ejus quidditas exprimi, nisi caetera significata, tamquam analogata, ad primarium aliquod caput revocerentur. Hoc vero statuimus esse Ecclesiam Electorum, ad quod solos pertinet vocatio Dei efficax, unde saepe eklektoi  etiam klètoi dicuntur, quibus in Christo perficiendis, directe & primario Ecclesiae Ministerium in coetibis particularibus, ex quibis Ecclesia Catholica constat. Hanc autem haud incommode definieris Hominum societatem religiosam, ex universo genere humano per Ministerium Verbi iuxta Dei beneplaritum, ad Christus evocatorum, ut in ipso Gratia & Salutis fiant confortes.

[65] Maresius, Systema XV.12, quoted HpB 540 nr. 14: verissimum – solos electos esse vera et germana membra ecclesiae.

[66] Maresius, Systema XV.14, quoted HpB 536 nr. 5. The last sentence can also be found  in Barth, Unterricht III, 354 (cf. footnote 7): habet ecclesia nomen a vocatione, sed ab ea, quae fluit ex praedestinatione. Maresius opposes the opinion that the concept of the invisible church chiefly means that the pope cannot be the head of it. In the annotations on this section it becomes obvious, that ‘Novator’ is meant here – an indication for the distinguished theologians who are detested by Maresius as Joh. Coccejus, Jac. Alting and Christ. Wittichius; cf. Nauta, Maresius (ref. 17), 383, in this case presumably Coccejus.

[67] See above, footnote 40 (Pictetus).

[68] E.g. C. Graafland, Van Calvijn tot Barth. Oorsprong en ontwikkeling van de leer der verkiezing in het Gereformeerd Protestantisme, ’s Gravenhage: Boekencentrum 1987.

[69] That is also the opinion of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Cf. Sanctorum communio. Dogmatische Untersuchung zur Soziologie der Kirche, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Werke. Erster Band München: Kaiser 1986, (104-)106: ‘Der prädestinatianische Kirchenbegriff ist nur ein Teil des gesamten Begriffs und nur im Zusammenhang mit dem Ganzen sinnvoll und christlich. Er bedarf der Ergänzung, und diese entspringt aus dem Wirken des heiligen Geistes…’. H. Berkhof (Christelijk geloof, 8th ed., Kampen: Kok 2002, 391) goes too far in my eyes when he says: ‘(The category of an invisible church makes no sense, among other things because) the numerus praedestinatorum as such does not result in a mutual community’. In the traditional understanding, this is – unfortunately – true, but it implies no argument against any role for predestinarian reasoning in the doctrine of the church – see Bonhoeffer!

[70] Schmid, Die Dogmatik (ref. 2), 371, in the text of nr. 4: ‘Sie (die Kirche) wird besser als congregatio sanctorum definiert, denn als congregatio electorum, wie einige tun, quia latior est appellatio sanctorum et credentium, quam electorum.’ Because in the Catholic Church both groups live together, until the non elect are cut off at the end,, it is more proper to speak of the congregation of the saints and believers (J. Gerhard, Loci Theologici [XXXII.]XI.13). However, J.W. Baier, Compendium Theologiae positivae, Leipzig: Fritsch 1717, III.13.2, more subtly: speaking of true believers and saints is also improprie & synecdochen, as long as there are hypocrites and evildoers among them.

[71] Schmid, Die Dogmatik, 375, in the text of nr. 13: there can be a correspondence between the distinction in ecclesia stricte et late dicta and the distinction of the invisible and the visible church, because extra coetum vocatorum non sunt quaerendi electi (outside the assembly of called people you will find no elected people) [and because of Mat. 22:14: many are called, few are chosen]. (J. Gerhard, Loci Theologici. [XXII.]XI.83).

[72] E.g., Fr. Turrettini, Institutio Theologiae Elenchticae XVIII q. 3: an praeter Electos vocatos… vera Christi ecclesiae membra sint? Neg. contra Pontificos. On the contrary, says § 20: non omnes qui sunt in ecclesia, sunt tamen de ecclesia.

[73] In this respect, that of the ecclesia visibilis, Barth in 1925 stresses the classical image of the church as a mother: ‘Als Glied der Korporation und nicht anders ist das Individuum Gegenstand der Erwählung und Berufung’, Unterricht III, 358-359.

[74] K. Barth, The Epistle to the Romans, 360 (in the commentary on Rom. 9, 24-29).

[75] Nevertheless this was the classical conception: the number of the fallen angels had to be filled up.

[76] K. Barth, “Unterricht in der christlichen Religion.” Zweiter Band, Die Lehre von Gott / Die Lehre vom Menschen. 1924/1925, hrsg. Von H. Stoevesandt, Zürich: Theologischer Verlag 1990, (166-212) 183-186.

[77] From the famous book Theologie und Sozialismus. Das Beispiel Karl Barths, München: Kaiser 1972, 342ff. I remember the reference to an article of the Marxist social scientist A. Casanova, ‘Religion et révelation dans la Doctrine de Karl Barth’, who observes that Barth’s non- or anti-dualistic correction of the classical doctrine of election is in agreement with the developments of social relations, in which a form of existence without communication is increasingly intolerable. Fixations of self-evident and limited social figures are dissolved, primary groups are destroyed, and the individual lives in ever more complicated structures. And therefore an isolation of collective masses is unacceptable – also in Christian doctrine. The time has come to revisit these kinds of observations.

[78] Cf. K. Barth, Unterricht III, 360 on ‘the true Israel’.

[79] K. Barth, Gotteserkenntnis und Gottesdienst (ref. 56), 155-156.

[80] KD II/2, 215; CD II/2, 195.

[81] KD II/2, 336; CD II/2, 306.

[82] K. Barth, Unterricht III,  350.

[83] K. Barth, Unterricht III, 364: ‘das Sichtbare bezeugt das Unsichtbare’; Also 367: ‘sie ist in dieser geschichtlichen Gestalt und Erscheinung… wahre Kirche, sie trägt Züge, die, wenn auch nicht unzweideutig…., von ihrem Ursprung Zeugnis ablegen’; and 369: ‘kirchliches Wort ist Zeugnis von Gottes Wort.’

[84] Barth, Unterricht III, 372-377 (section 4).

[85] Heppe is opposing ministerium with a. magisterium – HpB 544, nr. 25: Bucanus XLII.2; cf. Barth, Unterricht III, 374: ‘Lehramt’ – as well as with b. sacerdotium (priesthood; HpB 539). This is directed against the Church of  Rome. It seems to me, Barth here also opposes high church tendencies in Protestantism.

[86] The reference HpB 544 (nr. 25) to Turrettini, Institutio Theologiae Elenchticae Locus XVIII q. 16.20, is not correct.

[87] However, Barth himself was not a member of the Theologische Prüfungskommission of the Ev.-reformierte Kirche der Provinz Hannover; M. Freudenberg, Karl Barth und die reformierte Theologie, Neukirchen: Neukirchener Verlag 1997, 75.

[88] It is not evident what Calvin meant with this classification, particularly what was his interpretation of the presbyteros of New Testament texts: is he, as the episcopos, a preacher of the Word, or is he a member of the sanhedrium and therefore a governor? Also our seven witnesses in the time of orthodoxy are not very clear on this question (e.g., Bucanus Institutiones Theologicae XLII.19; Wollebius Compendium XXVI def.; Fr. Turrettinus Institutio Theologiae Elenchticae XVIII q. 32). Barth says on the one side: ‘das ministerium gliedert sich vierfach, ohne das zwischen den vier Ämbtern ein Grad- und Würdeunterschied bestünde’, but on the other side he quotes Heppe: the seniores or presbyteroi ‘stehen den pastores als “assessores” zur Seite’, which would imply some sort of differentiation or ranking. Barth, Unterricht III,  376 (footnote 69). HpB 548 nr. 39: Maresius, Systema XV.75. Very critical of this is J.M. Hasselaar in: E.J. Beker, J.M. Hasselaar, Wegen en kruispunten in de dogmatiek. Deel 5. Kerk en toekomst, Kampen: Kok 1990, 223 (Heppe is committing ‘a capital error here’).

[89] HpB 544, nr. 27.

[90] HpB 531, the last paragraph.

[91] E.g. Maresius, Systema XVI.5. Barth could have found this position in HpB 549 nr. 42 (J.H. Heidegger). That Barth is pulling Heppe too much toward his own preferences may also have been seen by Stoevesandt, who in reaction to Barth’s remark that the ecclesial measures with regard to the ordination of ministers are dogmatically fully indifferent, in footnote 64 notes: doch (however)… see the quotes in HpB nrs. 33-36.

[92] E.g., Bucanus, Institutiones Theologicae XLI. 7: ecclesia visibilis est vel in grege (…), vel in Pastoribus & Senatu Ecclesiastico, qui ex praecipuus & idoneis Ecclesiae membris constat…’; Maresius, Systema XV.75; Fr. Turrettinus, Institutio Theologiae Elenchticae XVIII q. 2, 10:  on the question of the definitions of the church, one of the possible definitions is its identification with the Coetus Rectorum et Pastorum ecclesiae. In 1959 Barth will call this ‘a more than doubtful theologoumenon, whether we think in Lutheran terms of the sacred office of  pastors or in reformed terms of the no less sacred college of the presbytery, classis or synod’; KD IV/3, 876; CD IV/3, 765).

[93] Mastricht, Theoretico-Practica Theologia VII.25.

[94] Mastricht, ibid. VII.6.18.

[95] Mastricht, ibid. VII.7.18.

[96] K. Barth, Gotteserkenntnis und Gottesdienst (ref. 56),181-182: one cannot speak of a principle, only of a relative precedence of one system of organization above another one. Nevertheless whoever is in favour of a Reformed bishop will have to explain many things…

[97] K. Barth, Die Kirche – die lebendige Gemeinde des lebendigen Herrn Jesus Christus, Oecumenischer Rat der Kirchen, Studienabteilung, Kommision I der Vollversammlung, Geneva 1947. See the Wildi-Bibliography nr. 522 (Erster Entwurf) and nr. 571, London: CSM Press, 1948.

[98] In my view, even when one is very much in favour of a process of democratisation, a certain aristocratic element in politics is inevitable. And in the church, both an aristocratic and a basic democratic organisation can connect itself with conservatism as well as with renewal.

[99] Fr. Loofs, art. Kongregationalisten (oder Independenten), in: PRE3 , Leipzig: Hinrich 1901, (680-693)693.

[100] K. Barth, De apostolische geloofsbelijdenis. Voor Nederland bewerkt en van aantekeningen voorzien door dr. K.H. Miskotte, Nijkerk: Callenbach 1935, 340 (note 23 to the lecture on the Sanctam Ecclesiam). Miskotte refers, e.g., to Die christliche Dogmatik, München: Kaiser 1927, 57f.: ‘Who we are to preach? The appeal to ecclesiastical ordination is in all cases based on presuppositions, the understanding of which should start off with the insight not only once, but again and again that we actually are people who are not called.’

[101] K.H. Miskotte, Vragen aan Barth, in: Verzameld Werk 2. Karl Barth, inspiratie en vertolking, Kampen: Kok 1987, 428 (question III.3). Miskotte’s own answer would have been: the offices are neither to be understood in a liturgical way, nor organically or organisationally, but floating, independently of each other, as instruments of God. Christ has in his right hand the seven stars, the angels of the congregation (Rev. 1).’

[102] And why, we may add, does he mention the name of A.Fr.Chr. Vilmar in the list of his self-chosen predecessors of the 19th century in the Preface of Die christliche Dogmatik im Entwurf? Wasn’t Vilmar’s main contribution to theology his stress on the importance of the spiritual office in the church (Die Lehre vom geistlichen Amt, 1870)? Cf. Die protestantische Theologie im 19. Jahrhundert, Zürich: Evangelischer Verlag 1947, 570-578.

[103] Between January and September 1920, Barth gave 24 sermons on 2 Corinthians 1-7. On June 7th he wrote to Eduard Thurneysen: ‘Sachlich ist das irgendwie ein gigantischer Anschauungsunterricht zu dem Thema “Pfarrer und Gemeinde”, insofern kein guter Predigtstoff.’

[104] Barth, Unterricht III, 366, see above, the end of section 3.

[105] See above, note 31. Cf. the definition of Heidegger: coetus hominum electorum, vocatorum et fidelium, quos Deus per verbum et Spiritus e (!) statu peccati in (!)statum gratiae, ad (!) aeternum gloriam vocat’, 1925 quoted from HpB 526, in CD IV/3, 765 directly from Barth’s own copy of the Medulla.

[106] KD IV/3, 874, just before the excursus 875-878; CD IV/3, 764, just before the excursus 764-767. Italics mine, rrb.

[107] Barth’s Göttingen lectures of 1925 ended by reminding the students and future ministers of Jeremiah 1:7:  ‘thou shalt go to all that I shall send thou, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak’ (King James Version). Cf. Barth, Unterricht III, 377. In this sense already his earlier locus on the church ended with a sending out – not of the congregation but of the theologians. Indeed, with an appeal to Romans 10 and 15 the orthodox theologians did identify vocatio and missio (e.g. Maresius, Systema XV.59), but they failed to work it out.

[108] Sources for this second line: Melanchthon’s Apology of the Augustana, the Conf. Aug. Variata, the confessional texts of Calvin (stressing the community as a militant fellowship, ‘Kampfgemeinschaft’, in the direction of the coming reign of God), the Conf. Scotica art. 16 (of course!), the Conf. Belgica (art. 27) and the Heidelberger Cat. (qu. 54), culminating in the above-mentioned definition of Heidegger.

[109] Barth is here quoting from his copy of the Theo. Did. Pol. of  Quenstedt (see my paper on Barth and Polanus). Cf. H. Schmid, Dogmatik (ref. 2), 378-381: § 57 Ecclesia synthetica et repraesentativa.

[110] Presumably with the idea to join the Church Dogmatics in this respect, H. Berkhof, Christelijk Geloof (ref. 69),341-414, has developed his ecclesiology in three paragraphs (after an introduction on the relationship of covenant and church in § 39): § 40 ‘The Church as an Institute’, § 41 ‘The Congregation as the Body of Christ’, § 42 ‘The People of God as the First-born.’ In my eyes the name of the first paragraph says too little for a dogmatic point of view. In the reformational doctrine of the notae not the institute as such was the issue, but the dramatic debate where in the visible sphere one could recognize the true church one believed in.

[111] Barth refers to two lutheran theologians: J. Gerhard at the beginning and A. Quenstedt at the end of the 17th century. Above (section 2.7) we referred to Mastricht’s distinctions regarding the causae of the church, Theologia  VII.1. However, he doesn’t know a causa finalis ecclesiae. Among Reformed theologians one should rather look at Marckius to find a similar Aristotelian logic as in these Lutheran counterparts. The whole of his Compendium culminates, quite a bit after the doctrine of the church in chapters 32 and 33, in chapter 34: ‘De fine: de electorum glorificatione beata.’ There one has to distinguish between the finis subordinatus: salus hominis, and the finis supremus: Dei gloria. However, these qualifications do refer more to the members of the ecclesia than to the community as such. Under the earlier reformed theologians a clear example is given by Bucanus, In his Institutiones Theologiae XLI.30 – as an addition to the other causae ecclesiae as mentioned in XLI.15 – he defines: ‘What is the causa finalis of the church? The true worship of God (cultus Dei). For she is chosen, gathered, and ordered for the true worship of God and to glorify God, in this life as well as in eternal life. However, the goal to which the church extends itself is God as the fulfilment (satietas) of all, or that heavenly heritage that cannot perish or corrupt or fade away.’

[112] Barth also raises the question, whether the Reformation really knew how to distiguish between the church and the reign of God. That question requires further investigation. As far as Calvin is concerned, I fear Barth is too optimistic that Calvin in principle did distinguish among  these two entities.

[113] Fr. Turrettini, Institutio Theologiae Elenchticae XVIII q. 1.3 (on the very first page of the third volume), quoted by Barth from his own copy. The quotation is not taken up in Heppe.

[114] Bucanus, Institutiones Theologicae, Locus XLII.52.

[115] Mastricht, Theoretica-Practica Theologia Lib. VII cap. I.43 (in the pars practica). Another reference to a missionary situation, as dreamed in this 17th century, I found in Fr. Turrettini, Institutio Theologicae Elenchticae Loc. XVIII q. 23: an vocatio ordinaria ad Ministeriam.. semper sit necessaria? Diff. (is an ordinary call to the ministry always necessary? We distinguish), paragraph 18: ‘If today believers, carried by a tempest to the most distant regions of the earth, should be shipwrecked upon the shore among barbarous people, entirely strangers to religion, and pressed by necessity should be compelled to remain there without any hope of returning to their homes, who does not confess that from the law of love they ought to teach the pagans the faith of Christ? And if many of them should perchance be converted, would it not be lawful for them to choose for themselves pastors to constitute a church and provide for its edification and instruction? Would it be better to suffer that light to be extinguished than to establish a ministry for the consolation and salvation of that people, although this could not be according to the usual order?’

[116] Cf. HpB 533-534, with the Belegstellen 53-57. Belegstelle 57 offers a detailed quotation on the duties of the magistrate to promote the church by Franciscus Burmannus, who as a Cocceian with aristocratic connections tended to Erastian views.

[117] Cf. HpB 550, footnote, quotation from Turrettini, Institutio Theologiae Elenchticae Loc. XVIII q. 29: ‘an ecclesiae aliqua potestas spiritualis competat distincta a politica?’ aff. Does any spiritual power distinct from the political belong to the church? We affirm this.) 2. in excessu peccant Pontificii (The Romanists err in excess, who convert this power into an intolerable domination and tyranny over  the conscience and make it supreme and absolute in the Roman pontiff…)  – in defectu vero Erastiani et Libertini (The Erastians, Libertines, and other such disturbers err in defect, who acknowledge no spiritual power to have been given to the church, but that mere preaching and persuasion are left to pastors) – 3. orthodoxi medium inter duo extrema tenentes potestatem et auctoritam ecclesiae distinctam a politica datam esse agnoscunt… (The orthodox, holding the middle ground between these two extremes, acknowledge that a power and authority distinct from the political has been given to the church). What could be proposed as a ‘middle way’ in the 17th century, will be seen by a majority as a rather extremist position in our time.

[118] Maresius, Systema Loc. XVI.74-75 (against Papism and against the independents; cf. Nauta, Maresius (ref. 17), 305-309); Fr. Turrettini, Institutio Theolociae Elenchticae Loc. XVIII q. 33: an proprium sit Pontificis Romani indicere & cogere Concilia, iis praeesse, & auctoritatis ipsis conferre…? Neg. (Does it belong to the Roman pontiff to proclaim and gather councils, to preside over them and to confer upon them infallible authority in doctrines of faith and religion? We deny); Mastricht, Theologia theoretico-practica  Lib. VII Cap. 2.38.

[119] In the Dutch republic it was the States General that convocated the synod of Dordrecht in 1618.

[120] Cf. K. Barth, Ethik II, hrg. Von Dietrich Braun, Zurich: Theologischer Verlag 1978; Anhang: Thesen über Kirche und Staat (1928), (457-467) 465-66: ‘Eine ihrer Sache und der Einheit dieser Sache bewusste und treue Staatskirche ist als Symbol der letzten Einheit von Kirche und Staat auch der lebendigsten Freikirche vorzuziehen.’

[121] G. Agamben, The Coming Community, Minnesota: Minnesota University Press 1993, 85ff.

[122] Cf. John 1, 5; Matt. 16, 18.

[123] G. Agamben, The Time That Remains (ref. 37), 53. The New Dutch Bible Translation does a terrible job when it translates remnant not with ‘de rest’, but with ‘een klein deel’, ‘a small part’ – but the remnant is many things, but not a part!.

[124] For the theme of witness in Agamben see Remnants of Auschwitz. The Witness and the Archive, New York: Zone1999, Chapter 4.

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R.H. Reeling Brouwer

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