Friday, December 18, 2009

A Striking Statement

"If a man can acquiesce in divisions, if he can even take pleasure in them, if he can be complacent in relation to the obvious faults and errors of others and therefore his own responsibility for them, then that man may be a good and loyal confessor in the sense of his own particular denomination, he may be a good Roman Catholic or Reformed or Orthodox or Baptist, but he must not imagine that he is a good Christian."
- Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV.1, p. 676

By the way, I may begin a tradition with my "bad words" series where I follow it up with the related "good news" that lies behind or redeems the language. For the last post the "good news" sneaks its way in on comment 1o. Thanks as always for all interaction. Please feel free to continue!


Colin Toffelmire said...

Though I appreciate Barth's statement here to some degree, there is also an element in it that I find frustrating. Yes, divisions in the Church are bad, and yes, we are responsible to challenge them. But there is serious danger there, a danger of believing that we hold orthodoxy in our hands, and that we are correct where all others have failed. That I am a Christian while you are just a Baptist (or whatever). That makes me terribly nervous, for who but God himself is truly orthodox?

Eric said...

Hey John, this has nothing to do with another great quote (all of which educate me, so keep them coming), but that's a great picture of you: rows and rows of books above you, almost as if you're carrying them on your shoulders, which are slanted with the effort - but your eyes are wide. It's like the thinking is racing ahead, new thought sprouting, even under the load. Great image for doctoral studies.

Jon Coutts said...

Colin, you are making the very point that Barth goes on at length to make. But he's saying that its one church, and if the absence of communion does not bother us out of complacency or also out of militance, we have drifted from the one whose bride it is. Trust in Christ is looking to see him have a church that is one. John 17 is the Lord's prayer.

Eric: That's a great interpretation of an otherwise mindless photo!

Colin Toffelmire said...

Thanks for the clarification. And you're completely correct, the absence of communion is a very big deal indeed. You should check out Ephraim Radner on that subject. While I don't quite agree with his conclusion, his analysis is chilling and heart-rending.