Welcome back to Wednesdays With Barth! I hope you enjoyed some reading this week!  Karl Barth

The Southern Baptist statement of faith simply says this regarding Scripture…

“The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.”

Is that it? I see a lot of WHAT the Bible is but nothing about HOW the Bible is what it is.

For example this curious phrase…

“The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s REVELATION of Himself to man.”

When compared to this one later on…

“All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation”

This makes me really scratch my head in confusion. The problem with the Southern Baptist statement is that it makes two authoritative revelations 1. The Bible 2. Jesus. Wouldn’t it be easier (and more Biblical) to say God’s revelation to man is Jesus Christ and Scripture authoritatively SERVES to reveal Him ? I think it is much less confusing in a mysterious way and safe to sing “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so”  rather than “The bible loves me this I know for Jesus tells me so” or even “Jesus and the Bible loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” Without seriously distinguishing the object of Scripture from it’s Object (Jesus) we honestly communicate a theory of the Scriptures that is borderline idolatry. It would be like thinking engines are made for wrenches rather than the other way around. Without clearly defining how and what Scripture is before we claim it as “authoritative” we can really confuse  people (or at least me).

I was struck right off the bat by the clarity of Barth in my reading this week when he said…

“God’s revelation in its objective reality is the incarnation of His Word, in that He, the one true eternal God, is at the same time true Man like us. God’s revelation in its objective reality is the person of Jesus Christ. In establishing this we have not explained revelation, or made it obvious, or brought it into the series of the other objects of our knowledge. On the contrary, in establishing this and looking back at it we have described and designated it a mystery, and not only a mystery but the prime mystery. In other words, it becomes the object of our knowledge; it finds a way of becoming the content of our experience and our thought; it gives itself to be apprehended by our contemplation and our categories. But it does that beyond the range of what we regard as possible for our contemplation and perception, beyond the confines of our experience and our thought.”

When we make the book that reveals Jesus the Christ as THE revelation in and of itself (rather than its servant) it no longer proclaims Jesus as God objectively but rather the book proclaims itself. When we become “people of the Book” in this way questions like “what’s God say?”  and “is it biblical? are easily answered with a concordance because they both ignore the inductive nature (and it’s limits) of biblical interpretation. Literalism becomes God and it makes a book that organizes scripture under topics as  “Bible” (e.g. MacArthur’s Topical Bible). Is that really a Bible? Can we just rearrange the Bible, take it out of context, make scripture into alphabetized propositions and call it Bible? This issue of deifying the Bible’s  as “revelation” in and of itself without the need for interpretation troubles me.

BibleThe gifted artist Tauba Auerbach makes a staggering point regarding Biblical Literalism when she created an incredible work of art called The Alphabetized Bible. I think she shows (whether she intended to or not) how useless the Bible or any book for that matter is when literalism is taken to its limits.

She says…

“”The intention of my work is to formally and conceptually break language down into its tiniest essential units, and apply the unique properties of the system to the system itself, subjecting it to its own idiosyncrasies and inconsistencies in remarkable patterns.”

When Christ is not Revelation of revelation, the Bible is merely something to be organized and reordered into pretty patterns. Many evangelicals could easily be called “People of The Book” rather than Christ followers by people who read our evangelical statements of faith or watch our practice. This is how Barth is rescuing me. He is reminding me that Bible I hold in my hand is authority, unique and powerful not in and of itself but because of it’s object.


Reading schedual for Church Dogmatics Book I.2 in 7 weeks.
Dates in bold represent posting/discussion days.

  1. December 30, 2013 pp v–xiii, pp 1–25
  2. January 01, 2014 pp 26–69
  3. January 03, 2014 pp 70–106
  4. January 06, 2014 pp 107–146
  5. January 08, 2014 pp 147–198
  6. January 10, 2014 pp 199–232
  7. January 13, 2014 pp 233–279
  8. January 15, 2014 pp 280–318
  9. January 17, 2014 pp 319–361
  10. January 20, 2014 pp 362–416
  11. January 22, 2014 pp 417–449
  12. January 24, 2014 pp 450–495
  13. January 27, 2014 pp 496–533
  14. January 29, 2014 pp 534–574
  15. January 31, 2014 pp 575–628
  16. February 03, 2014 pp 629–664
  17. February 05, 2014 pp 665–703
  18. February 07, 2014 pp 704–756
  19. February 10, 2014 pp 757–796
  20. February 12, 2014 pp 797–840
  21. February 14, 2014 pp 841–885, pp 895–905

Wednesdays with BarthLearn more about Karl Barth here.
Buy his Church Dogmatics in LOGOS here.

*Reading list generated by Logos Bible Software.