12.3.09

unbibliocentric Barth




Like John the Baptist, Barth has God's Word in his hands and points to Jesus Christ.

What I am enjoying about Barth is his refusal to worship the Bible, as seems apparent in some reformed evangelical circles and yet at the same time, the Bible remains highly honoured and indeed the starting place for all that Barth has to say - there's a fine distinction. However, the purpose of the Bible is to point to Jesus Christ and he is revelation. The Church, in turn, points away from itself and to Jesus Christ in its proclamation of the incarnate and living Word. Our knowledge of God is through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, indirectly from Scripture.

The Bible isn't to be reduced to systematics, scripture's purpose is to mediate knowledge of God by its witness to Jesus Christ, it isn't to be employed as some kind of theological system rationalised and fixed for consumption.

It has been helpful to meditate on this today.

This morning I was in some kind of calm state of panic, in so much as I only realise, now the waters have calmed that I was panicking. I was full of self-doubt, wondering how I am ever going to get to grips with all this theology and with the Bible. I was imagining taking a couple of years off just to read the Bible over and over and every commentary on every one of its 66 books (I'd need more than a couple of years!!). When the study gets too much and my Abelards and Anselms, Barths and Brunners are all getting confused, I find that rooting myself in God again helps - so I usually go to church or chapel or just anywhere really, where I can talk to God and hear preaching about his word rather than theories about atonement or recapitulation etc.

It is at these times that I sense God loving me despite my heresies, my insecurities and my desperation. Here God welcomes me like the child I am and tells me you'll never understand me until the next life, treat yourself as gently as I treat you - I have all the time in the world, so do you.

Now, I'm not sure how open you lot out there are to 'pictures'. Generous God is so good to us, isn't he? At communion tonight, a chap in college had a picture about me and it tallies with a picture that a very good friend had two weeks ago on a similar theme. Tonight, it was a piece of fruit and around it the words 'God's word' were written and the fruit was divided up into segments so that they could be eaten one at a time. I was very grateful for this picture for it speaks hugely into my situation. There is time. I am so desperate to understand God's beautiful story about himself and our relationship with him but I can eat slowly, savour each segment and there is something that cuts through the panic, like the knife through the apple and says rest, breathe, calm down, wait.

2 comments:

Crunch said...

I used to be sceptical, but not now. My husband has them from time to time as well as a wonderfully spiritual woman at church. Neither are ever pushy about them and neither have ever tried to gain 'points' or kudos by voicing their ideas. Most importantly they have spoken to individuals powerfully and in a way which could have only come from God.

Simon Barrow said...

Well put regarding Barth and the Bible. At the centre is the Living Word.

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