Wrestling with Bultmann’s affirmation of “decision” as the main goal of the teachings of Jesus, I wonder if he is not mostly right in this observation. He did tack on the whole “therefore getting back to the Jesus of historie is not important nor obtainable” thing, but do we have to have all or nothing? Hardly anyone denies that Jesus’s teaching did bring some sort of bifurcating process (e.g. “You are either for me or against me”, “I did not come to bring peace but a sword, dividing…”, “you cannot serve God and money”), it often brought people to a point of decision.
I realize that Bultmann brings with his idea of “decision” a whole car full of baggage of theological existentialism and realized eschatology but I am also struck by Ridderbos’s words in The Coming of the Kingdom, “Jesus’ commandments not only place man in the crisis but also beyond it. The Sermon on the Mount especially, mentions, not only a continually repeated decisive moment of conversion, but even more, a continuous and persevering life proceeding from such a decision…” (248). So maybe we can’t agree with Bultmann’s end, but it seems that it can be a part of our process in obtaining the full nature of the Jesus’ proclomation of the Kingdom.
One more thing. Talking about this with fellow students one critique of Bultmann, viz., his focus on the individual’s relationship to God being ultimate as opposed to a community of faith, was well grounded. However, I think we also cannot go too far the other way but must have a balance. I think we should affirm the individual’s responsibility before God while also not negating the equally important relationship of the individual in community. This fundamentally brings us back to the two great commandments, Love God and Love Neighbor. It must be both.