Rudolf Bultman – 10/17/2011
Bultman is essentially defined by two rubrics: Existentialism and Demythologization. Existentialism can be seen as a method of correlating the self to the given context, whereas Demythologization is understood to relate in terms of finding the discursive truth-essence or the meaning behind something as it relates to the implied context. These serve as the foundation for both his thought and his hermeneutics.
For Bultman, the Law is “the totality of the historical given demands” as it soteriologically & contextually relates to the individual. The ‘discursive truth-essence’ of the Law is that sin (in contextual, existential relation to humanity) represents man’s attempt to “undergird his own existence in forgetfulness of his own creaturely existence” and, secondly, (because he is already existentially broken in terms his relation to the Divine) he is “always already a sinner” and “already involved in a falsely-oriented understanding of his existence.” The “subjective despair” of the law functions only in light of an understanding of Grace in terms of any (allowable) pedagogical role. Once Grace is understood – any teaching ability of the Law, must be exclusively limited within that rubric, thus any ‘schoolmaster’ concept is inadmissible.
A suitable soteriological teleology must function within a Grace-to-Faith-to-Righteousness progression; where works may allowably be seen as fruits of salvation – but are not ontologically integrated into an understanding of salvation in an of itself. Thus ‘receiving life,’ ‘exclusively through grace,’ can be seen more so in the essence of being “rightwised.” Any ‘striving for righteousness,’ in Bultman, is contextually and existentially secondary to an internalized desire to be sovereignty declared as being righteous by God – outside any eforts, on the part of the individual to find, earn, or gain it, in an organized or self-contingent manner.
In terms of his method, Bultman’s emphasis on the existential and the innate subjectivity of so-called ‘discursive truth-telling’/demythologization are always potentially problematic and can be seen as creating theologies that are too overtly anthromorphologically-oriented and thus potentially misguided, in terms of an objective description.
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