Barth and Scripture

Understanding Barth’s view of Scripture is particularly relevant to the time in which we live, especially since “higher criticism” has caused many to question the validity of the bible. The beauty and importance of Barth’s theology is that it is Christocentric, rather than Bibliocentric. The bible tells us in John that “the Word was made flesh,” and Barth says: “absolutely, that’s the point.” In appealing to the Jesus as the Word, Barth advocates not attempting to read Scripture in isolation, but rather that it is the only ancient book that you can read with the author present as you read. God’s presence, as we study the bible is enlivened and made true as it can be only through the indwelling of God’s Spirit.

It cannot be emphasized enough that Jesus is the only perfect revelation of God – his express image to quote the author of Hebrews. The bible is most certainly an inspired collection of books, but it is not equal to Jesus as if God can be reduced to writing on pages. The authority of Scripture is rooted not in its accuracy alone, but in the fact that God reveals Himself personally and actively to us in the reading of the Word. Moreover, as Ted Johnston mentioned, Jesus himself stated the case for us when he said that the bible’s purpose is to testify of Jesus – to be a witness of him.

To be authentically evangelical does not mean one must use the word inerrancy and become embroiled in the politics surrounding the development of the statement of inerrancy which tries to prove too much. This does not mean the Bible cannot be infallible according to Barth’s perspective. It is just the opposite in that we can affirm the infallibility of Scripture, as we do in our statement of beliefs. It is also important to take note that John Calvin’s’ view of the bible is not very different from Barth’s. He also rooted the Biblical authority in the self-Revelation of God. Calvin also appealed to self-authentication by the Holy Spirit. Essentially, Barth makes the same point as Calvin only he uses “12 cylinder words” in comparison to Calvin’s 6 cylinder expressions!