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First of all, church polity is a law of service in its very nature.

It is of fundamental significance in
the context of what we have seen above with regard to the issue of law and power. For Barth,
power can only be legitimate in the church as long as it understands itself fully as a form of
service. This concerns every function and every person in the church: power in the church should
serve the Lord and the community. Furthermore, Church Polity is also living alive, because the
lord is alive. Therefore, church polity has always to be ready to respond a new to changing
circumstances. It is dynamic, human, it is never done, 'always a process from worse to better, as
it is true for the church and for the world as well. Church politics is a matter of ongoing
obedience to Christ. This obedience can make it necessary to change- or even to disobey
(Barmen)- the rules in force. In this respect churches can learn mutually. Fundamentally, church
polity is ius humonum, human law, and never ius divinum, divine law. It is only the christocratic
principle that can be called 'divine law' , in order to indicate the limitations of church polity as
such. Church polity is living, and therefore it is essentially provisional.

In my view, Barth presents a convincing argument why church polity has to be seen as a sully
theological discipline, and why church law has a legitimate place in church life. Sohm’s point of
departure that law is at odds with the nature of the church, fails to appreciate a necessary
prerequisite of church polity. Church law has to be related to what we believe the church to be ,
as we saw, indeed, already in chapter 2 above.

At the same time it is clear that Barth is no church lawyer. He does not really make the step from
a systematic theological approach to a more juridical one. His logical intuition of what is at
stake, is impressive. But he does not go into the specifics of church polity. This is where we have
to make further steps.

The practice

Law has its own logic and language. It should be unambiguous and clear, whereas theological
language can be poetic, narrative or performative. Church law is no sermon! Legal language is
precise, sharp. Legal provisions include legal consequences: 'if you do this..., you have the right
to do that or 'if you don't do this, you expect that to happen: However, sometimes even the legal
language has to leave room for ‘reading the context’. We now have to explore this field a bit
further. although I am aware that I have to limit myself here considerably, since 1 am not a

As I mentioned before (see above, p. 18), we can distinguish different phases in the process of
law. The first one is: finding a theological foundation of church