I believe in Jesus Christ ...

"I believe in Jesus Christ, his only-begotten Son, our Lord". If faith in the "logos", the meaningfulness of being, corresponds perfectly with a tendency in the human reason, this second article of the Creed proclaims the absolutely staggering alliance of logos and sarx, of meaning and a single historical figure. The meaning that sustains all being has become flesh; that is, it has entered history and become one individual in it; it is no longer simply what encompasses and sustains history but a point in it. According to this the meaning of all being is first of all no longer to be found in the sweep of the mind which rises above the individual, the limited, into the universal; it is no longer simply given in the world of ideas, which transcends the individual and is reflected in it only in a fragmentary fashion; it is to be found in the midst of time, in the countenance of one man.

The Cross

The birthplace of the faith in Jesus as the Christ, that is, the birthplace of the "Christ"-ian faith as a whole, is the cross. Jesus did not call himself unequivocally the Messiah (Christ); it was Pilate who gave him this name, proclaiming Jesus on the cross, in an execution notice drawn up in all the international languages of the day, as the executed king (=Messiah, Christus) of the Jews. This execution notice, the death sentence of history, became with paradoxical unity the "confession of faith", the real starting-point and rooting-point of the Christian faith, which holds Jesus to be the Christ: as the crucified criminal this Jesus is the Christ, the king. His crucifixion is his coronation; his coronation or kingship is his surrender of himself to men, the identification of word, mission and existence in the yielding up of his very existence. His existence is thus his word. He is word because he is love.

From the cross faith understands in increasing measure that this Jesus did not just do and say something; that in him message and person are identical, that he always already is what he says. John needed only to draw the final straightforward inference: if that is so - and this is the christological basis of his gospel - then this Jesus Christ is "word"; but a person who not only has words but is his word and his work is the logos ("the Word", meaning, mind) itself; that person has always existed and will always exist; he is the ground on which the world stands - if we ever meet such a person, then he is the meaning which sustains us all and by which we are all sustained.

Christians first hit upon the identification of person, word and work through the cross. Through it they recognised the really and finally decisive factor, before which all else becomes of secondary importance. For this reason their confession of faith could be restricted to the simple association of the words Jesus and Christ - this combination said it all. Jesus is seen from the cross, which speaks louder than any words: he is the Christ - no more need be said. The crucified "I" of the Lord is such an abundant reality that all else can retire into the background.

From the understanding of Jesus thus acquired, people looked back at his words. When the community began to think back like this it was forced to note, to its amazement, that the same concentration on his "I" was to be found in the words of Jesus; that his message itself, studied retrospectively, is such that it always leads to and flows into this "I", into the identity of word and person.

For anyone who recognises the Christ in Jesus, and only in him, and who recognises Jesus as the Christ, anyone who grasps the total oneness of person and work as the decisive factor, has abandoned the exclusiveness of faith and its antithesis to love; he has combined both in one and made their mutual separation unthinkable. The hyphen between Jesus and Christ, the inseparability of person and work, the identity of one man with the act of sacrifice - these also signify the hyphen between love and faith.

For the peculiarity of Jesus" "I", of his person, which now certainly moves right into the centre of the stage, lies in the fact that this "I" is not at all something exclusive and independent but Being completely derived from the "Thou" of the Father and lived for the "You" of men. It is identity of logos (truth) and love, and thus makes love into the logos, the truth of human existence. The essence of a faith demanded by a Christology so understood is consequently entry into the universal openness of unconditional love. For to believe in a Christ so understood means simply to make love the content of faith, so that from this angle one can perfectly well say, love is faith.

Therefore it is also true that faith which is not love is not a really Christian faith - it only seems to be such.