2 Corinthians 4:1-12
This passage is pretty special to me. Not just because Paul makes his argument so well… but that it reflects and informs a major theme my theological life.
See, I believe quite strongly as a pastor-type that one of our primary roles is that of theologian. (Lots to unpack there, but I’ll spare you.) I believe everything the church says and does is first of all theology: Words from/of/about God.
I also believe Barth is right in Evangelical Theology that all (ALL) theological words are preceded by the Word (that is, Jesus) who inspires them, provokes them, and makes them possible. All theology is in response to the Word which comes to us first. And for our theological words to be anywhere close to accurate visa-vis God, they must be inSpired in the moment.
And I think that’s what Paul is saying here.
He’s in the middle of this case where he says his words are not his own. He isn’t peddling the Gospel like a vacuum cleaner salesman. The authority comes from Christ himself.
And so we have 2 Corinthians 4:
7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11 For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. NRSV
We have this treasure… this Gospel… this Word from/of God… this theology… in a clay jar to prove it’s not from us. It’s not ours. It’s not even really on-loan to us. It’s given by the Father, through the Spirit and in Christ, to us in the moment.
That’s why I’ve always said stuff like, “I think God might be saying….” Because I might be wrong. The power and authority are GOD’S, not mine.
And I think us theologians need to hear that every once in a while.