Thursday, August 25, 2005

The startling power of the word

Karl Barth’s writings on interpreting the Word of God are an idol-shattering response to the kind of liberalism that was threatening the church in the early twentieth century (and still threatens today). Churches in Barth’s day had tried to tame the Word, to use it to justify the status quo of the world. In every age, it seems, human beings use the Bible to find the evidence for what they want to believe and practice anyway.

Barth understood that in the Bible is the very Word of God, yet human sin may keep that truth from penetrating our hearts. In his essay, “The Strange New World Within the Bible,” Barth wrote:
The Bible gives to every man and to every era such answers to their questions as they deserve. We shall always find in it as much as we seek and no more: high and divine content if it is high and divine content that we seek; transitory and “historical” content, if it is transitory and “historical” content that we seek—nothing whatever, if it is nothing whatever that we seek.
If we dare, however, to seek the Word of God, we’ll find the answer is far higher than we imagined—bigger and more powerful than we know how to deal with on our own. The Word, in short, is Jesus Christ, with his call to die to self and live a new life in Him.

The job of the Christian is not to make the Bible “relevant” to the world in which we live. The Christian, rather, is called to make his or her heart open to the “strange new world” the Bible presents. In other words, we do not use the Word as much as we allow the Word to use us, to reshape us. To do that, we have to approach the Bible with faith. Barth said,
The Holy Scriptures will interpret themselves in spite of all our human limitations. We need only dare . . . to grow out beyond ourselves toward the highest answer. This daring is faith; and we read the Bible rightly, not when we do so with false modesty, restraint, and attempted sobriety, for these are passive qualities, but when we read it in faith.


Blogger pete porter said...

Great post. Indeed, it's a whole new world. Thankfully!
Be Blessed,

10:00 PM, August 25, 2005  
Blogger Kim said...

Excellent post. Amen!

8:54 AM, August 26, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks, Pete. Many blessings for your work at B.N. Peace.

8:55 AM, August 26, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks, Kim, and thanks for your work at The Upward Call. Peace.

8:56 AM, August 26, 2005  
Blogger John Schroeder said...

Great Stuff Milt! Linked to it here

8:46 AM, August 27, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks, John. It's always a boost to be linked at Blogotional. Peace.

11:03 AM, August 27, 2005  
Blogger Paul said...


Excellent post. I linked to it today.


11:16 PM, August 27, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks, Paul!

3:51 PM, August 29, 2005  

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