No Comment, Quotation — April 23, 2011, 9:23 am

Barth – Standing with the Downtrodden

beggar

In diesem Zusammenhang wird es nun wichtig, daß als das Volk, dem Gott sich in seiner Gerechtigkeit als Helfer und Retter zuwendet, im Alten Testament durchweg das bedrängte, unterdrückte, recht- und hilfslose, das ohne ihn der Übergewalt seiner Feinde preisgegebene, das aus eigener Kraft ohnmächtige Israel sichtbar wird und innerhalb Israels im Besonderen: die Armen, die Witwen und Waisen, die Schwachen und Rechtlosen. Der Sproß aus der Wurzel Isai «wird Wohlgefallen haben an der Furcht des Herrn. Er wird nicht richten nach dem, was seine Augen sehen, noch Recht sprechen nach dem, was seine Ohren hören», d. h. offenbar: er wird nicht dem Recht geben, der nach menschlicher Meinung schon Recht hat, sondern: «Er wird die Armen richten mit Gerechtigkeit und dem Elenden im Lande Recht sprechen mit Billigkeit. Er wird den Tyrannen schlagen mit dem Stabe seines Mundes und den Gottlosen töten mit dem Hauche seiner Lippen». Und so wird «Gerechtigkeit der Gürtel seiner Lenden und Treue der Gurt seiner Hüften sein» ( Jes. 11, 3 f.). Darum hat denn auch die von Gott geforderte, die im Gehorsam hergestellte menschliche Gerechtigkeit – jene Gerechtigkeit, die nach Amos 5, 24 in Israel strömen soll wie ein unversieglicher Bach, notwendig den Charakter der Herstellung des Rechtes zugunsten der bedrohten Unschuldigen, der unterdrückten Armen, Witwen, Waisen und Fremdlinge, darum steht Gott innerhalb der Verhältnisse und des Geschehens in seinem Volk jederzeit unbedingt und leidenschaftlich auf dieser und nur auf dieser Seite: immer gegen die Hohen, immer für die Niedrigen, immer gegen die, die ihr Recht schon haben, immer für die, denen es geraubt und entzogen ist. Was bedeutet das? Man erklärt das wirklich damit nicht, daß man in abstracto von dem politischen Zug und speziell von dem Rechtscharakter der alttestamentlichen und überhaupt der biblischen Botschaft redet. In der Tat hat sie diesen Charakter und kann man sie nicht hören, kann man ihr nicht glauben, ohne in der angedeuteten Richtung zur Verantwortung gezogen zu werden.

In this connection it is important that the people, who turn to God in his justice as helper and savior, appear in the Old Testament in the form of an Israel weakened by its own right, threatened, repressed, lacking rights and helpless, which without Him would be surrendered to the power of its enemies; and within the nation of Israel, particularly the poor, the widows and orphans, the weak and the disenfranchised. The shoot from the root of Jesse “shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears,” i.e., reveal: he will not pronounce the justice which is common to human experience, but rather “with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the tyrants.” And in this way “righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” (Isaiah 11, 3ff.) For this reason also the human justice which God demands and which is crafted in obedience to him–the justice which according to Amos 5:24 is to pour down like an endless stream–necessarily takes the form of giving justice to the persecuted innocents, the downtrodden poor, widows, orphans and the outsiders, for this reason God always stands, without precondition and passionately, on this and only on this side, no matter the circumstances and deeds of his people: always against the powerful, always for the lowly, always against those who already have their share, always for those from whom it has been robbed or withdrawn. What does that mean? This cannot be explained abstractly through the political nature and particularly from the concept of justice in the Old Testament, nor more generally of a biblical message. In fact it has this character and one cannot hear it, cannot believe it, without being drawn to accountability in the direction to which it points.

Karl Barth, Kirchliche Dogmatik, vol. 2, part 1, p. 434 (1932)(S.H. transl.)(h/t George Hunsinger).

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