beginning a theological alphabet. Some brief ruminations on some
important theological realities. Help me by adding your own. I've
listed three words (two German, one English) under "A."
Anfectung – Luther’s wrenching daily experience of Satan’s unbridled,
vicious assault on him. At times, it seemed as if the whole world was
against him, as well as the flesh and the devil. It was prayer that
sustained him: “We know that our defense lies in prayer. We are too
weak to resist the devil and his vassals. Let us hold fast to the
weapons of the Christian; they enable us to combat the devil… our
enemies may mock at us. But we shall oppose both men and the devil if we
maintain ourselves in prayer and if we persist in it.” (Larger
Auferstehung – German for “resurrection.” Thomas
Torrance relates the Barth once ended a conversation they had about
Jesus’ resurrection saying, “Wohl verstanden, leibliche Auferstehung!” –
“Mark well, bodily resurrection!” Nothing more important than this, no
Christianity without it.
Awe – A bit more than the “wonder”
that drives philosophy; this more derives from magnificent presence we
encounter in theology, a personal presence to whom we owe existence,
allegiance, and love. Kenneth Grahame captures this beautifully in his
wonderful children’s story The Wind and the Willows: 'This is the
place of my song- dream, the place the music played to me,' whispered
the Rat, as if in a trance. 'Here, in this holy place, here if anywhere,
surely we shall find Him!' Then suddenly the Mole felt a great Awe
fall upon him, an awe that turned his muscles to water, bowed his head,
and rooted his feet to the ground. It was no panic terror, indeed he
felt wonderfully at peace and happy, but it was an awe that smote and
held him and, without seeing, he knew it could only mean that some
august Presence was very, very near. With difficulty he turned to look
for his friend and saw him at his side cowed, stricken, and trembling
violently. And still there was utter silence in the populous bird-
haunted branches around them; and still the light grew and grew . . .
'Rat!' he found breath to whisper, shaking. 'Are you afraid?'
'Afraid?' murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
'Afraid! Of him? O, never, never! And yet, and yet, O, Mole, I am
afraid!' Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.