I ran across this today in my reading. It comes from a series of cleverly titled collected lectures by Klaus Bockmuehl in A Modest Program for Self-Improvement: The Story of Modern Protestant Liberal Theology (Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 2007).
Johann Christoph Blumhart (1805-1880) was a remarkable pastor in Württemberg in the Black Forest. Like Johann Tobias Beck at the university of Tübingen, he was something of a solitary figure in the landscape of the nineteenth century. He was far too original to be counted with the school of evangelical pietism. He was his own man. Beginning as a liberal in his pastorate, he experienced a complete change of view. From then onwards he was the very solitary representative of a realism concerning the kingdom of God.
The phrase ‘Jesus is Victor,’ which was later picked up by Karl Barth, and later still was used by Donald Bloesch. . . originated with Blumhart. There’s an interesting story behind it. A young women in his parish, Gottliebin Dittus, was clearly demon-possessed. She would shout and scream whenever the name of Jesus was mentioned. According to theological liberalism, such things are not supposed to happen: there are no such things as demons. Blumhardt was perplexed and intrigued. Why did she shout at the mention of that name? For a couple of years he ignored the situation. If I don’t believe it, he thought, it will go away; it is not real. But it didn’t go away. There was a struggle over a period of two years. One time, when he was visiting the house, the girl underwent another beastly attack by the demons. Impatiently, he shouted, “Jesus is Victor,” and immediately she was delivered. She became healthy, and, later, when he had his own retreat centre, . . . she worked there with him. Blumhardt’s personal experience of exorcism created this conviction of the realism of the kingdom of God. Blumhardt began to emphasize theocentric thinking emphasizing the power of God. And this was important for Barth’s later thinking. (112-113)
If my last post on the abortion situation in North Amercia was a bit discouraging, perhaps this is the “evangelical word” that needs to be heard once again. Do we believe today that “Jesus is Victor”? Appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, this nevertheless must be our confession: Jesus is Victor!