Drawn to Freedom, by Eberhard Busch

Christian theology needs to rediscover its key figures from time to time, and the 200th anniversary of Søren Kierkegaard’s birth this past year provided such an occasion. Confessional documents too need to be continually rediscovered, as readers bring to them new questions and concerns. This past year also marked the 450th anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism, which remains one of the best-known Re­formation-era confessions. As Eberhard Busch notes, “A piece of work like this stays alive only as people think through its message in their own times.”

In his “conversation with the Heidelberg Catechism” Busch returns to its Question 32, “Why are you called a Christian?” and provides a contemporary answer. Drawn to Freedom is a translation of Busch’s 1998 book and retains the colloquial feel of the original, with its flashes of humor and frequent appeal to popular German proverbs, poems, and hymns.

Busch was Karl Barth’s last assistant and is best known for his theological work on Barth, especially his large biographical volume culled from Barth’s letters and papers. Busch recently retired from his professorship in Reformed theology at the University of Göttingen in central Germany. Barth was the first person to hold that position, and he began his teaching career in the winter of 1921–1922 with lectures on the Heidelberg Catechism. So it is no surprise that Busch’s engagement with the catechism reflects some of the hallmarks of Barth’s theology: a repudiation of natural theology, suspicions about infant baptism, and a thoroughgoing Christocentrism. Readers of Barth’s Church Dogmatics will also recognize the leisurely, spiraling style of Busch’s exposition.