CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter… ©
As we move from Palm Sunday toward Easter, I recall what Karl Barth said about the donkey Jesus rode on his way into Jerusalem.
Barth was a great Bible-believer. He was the foremost voice in the Neo-Orthodox movement of the mid 20th century, and wrote about ten thousand pages of closely-reasoned systematic theology to support that biblically based new orthodoxy. Indeed, when asked to summarize those ten thousand pages, he said, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
I was never a Barthian. I was a Personalist of the Borden Parker Bowne school, quite possibly the only Personalist of the second half of the 20th century. But I did read about ten percent of Barth’s theology, and I studied one summer under his son, Marcus. I’ve always respected Barth’s theological endeavors. Being a narrativist, though, what I remember are the stories.
According to Barth, as Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the donkey said, “Look at how the people adore me, shouting Hosannas at me, putting palms and their garments down in the street so my hooves don’t even touch the dirty ground.” The Bible is like the donkey, necessary for getting Jesus into the city, but not the object of praise and adoration.
The Bible is there not to be venerated itself but so that Jesus can ride into our hearts and lives. It is Christ who is the Word of God. If we say that the Bible is the Word of God, we are worshipping the donkey, not the Christ.
John Robert McFarland
The “place of winter” mentioned in the title line is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.]
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