In their 2002 album ‘Spoken for’, MercyMe featured a song called ‘Word of God Speak’.
I’m finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it’s okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say
Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
To be still and know
That You’re in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak
I’m finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice
Reading through some material today, it occurred to me that when it comes to the Word of God: we either choose to hear what is freely spoken to us or we don’t. This does not change the fact that God has spoken and continues to speak through His Word to us and for us in fresh and new ways.
The Word of God does not change, but instead initiates change – (James.1:16-18).
He does this by inviting us to see beyond the stagnated idolatry of human opinion – the kind that permeates religious and ideological “towers of Babylon”. Basically, when we place our ideology before our theology both fall into a trap. We enslave ourselves to a point of reference found in human words not in God’s. For example here one would agree with Paul’s assessment: ‘for now we see in a mirror dimly…Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known’ (1. Cor.13:12) .
God not only points us towards redeemed reason, He chooses to give it to us in His Word.Consequently we are moved from the ‘the light of nature into the light of Grace’ (Barth, 1936:155) .
Therefore we must listen to this Divine Word as proclamation, Scripture and revelation. The Incarnate Christ who is ‘God-with-us ’ issued as a Divine act by the ‘God-in-Himself’ (Barth 1936:172), who chooses to move ‘towards humanity’ (1936:172) empowering us to go beyond the fog of ‘fallen reason’ (1936:166). To go ‘’beyond the noise’’ (MercyMe). To see beyond certain ideologies and their poisonous progenies. The kind that misuse hope by employing it as a veil in order to hide stagnating dysfunctional paradigms .
Barth assures us that:
To speak of the ‘Word of God is to speak of God in His relation to Humanity. i.e: decision – divine act (157). Jesus the Christ, who speaks for Himself and needs no witness apart from His Holy Spirit and the faith that rejoices in His promise received and grasped. A promise heard as the revealed Word of God, fulfilment of what is written, recalled and then proclaimed (sermon and sacrament)’ (1936:55, 120,121 & 124).
Accordingly, the outcomes of our hearing will be grounded in whether we have ‘heard correctly or incorrectly’ (CD1.1:133).
Barth then states that ‘God’s Word means that “God speaks” (Deus dixit)…there is no Word of God without physical act and God’s speak is God’s act ‘ (Barth CD 1.1:133)…’this is a rational not an irrational event’ (1936:135)…‘We must know God as the one who addresses us in freedom’ (1936:172)…this ‘Lord of speech is also the Lord of hearing. The Lord who gives the Word and also gives faith’ (1936:182), this in turn means that God opens Himself up to the possibility of rejection since ‘a personal gift implies the possibility of its refusal’ (CD.1.1:98)
It is then right to understand that the “God who speaks” also expects and eagerly awaits our reply.
‘For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword…piercing and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart’ (Hebrews 4:12-13, ESV)
Barth’s key dialogue partner throughout his CD 1.1 discourse so far has been Martin Luther, who he cites (1936:135) as saying that ‘Christ’s Kingdom is a kingdom of hearing, not a Kingdom of seeing’ (Luther 1545, W.A. 51:11, I.25).
In agreement Barth clarifies what Luther meant stating that ‘it is faith that hears, understands and obeys God’s speech’ (1936:135).In other words ‘we can only take up an attitude by repeating it as we think we have heard it and by trying to conform to it as well or badly as we can (CD.1.1:90)
MercyMe are right, not just in the sense that we are spoken for, but because we are also spoken to.
As Barth so brilliantly put it: ‘the Word of God is God’s claim on Humanity’…therefore ‘no matter what may be said about me, I exist in correspondence to God’s Word’ (1936:161).
Barth can say this because he stands in light of the understanding that we are listeners before ‘the speaking God who spoke then, and speaks now. It is in Jesus Christ that we understand the Word of God as the epitome of God’s grace. This grace means simply that as humans we are no longer left to ourselves but are given into the Hand of God’’ (1936:149-150)
Thus Barth profoundly asserts:
‘God did not need to speak to us…we evaluate this free and actualised gracious Word [purpose]correctly only if we understand it as the reality of the love of the God who does not need us but who does not will to be without us’ (Barth, 1936:140, italics mine)
After highlighting the danger of putting our ideology before our theology. After establishing the how and who of God’s Word the question that remains for us is:
What is it that I hear and have I heard it correctly?
The answer may surprise you.
Barth, K 1936 Church Dogmatics Volume 1.1 The Doctrine of the Word of God Hendrickson Publishers Peabody Massachusetts
 This might otherwise be called ”a higher purpose”, although I am cautious of committing to this as a way of explaining what I mean by redeemed reason, as it has an attachment to the “oh he/she got religion” pejorative promoted by popular culture.
 ‘God’s revelation is Jesus Christ, the Son of God’ (1936:137)
 This is a concept I am working through and one I explained in brief here.