The Walk and Activity Of Grateful Children

8th March 2017 079

‘Be the children of God. Let your walk and activity be the walk and activity of those who are thankful.’
– (Karl Barth, CD I.II:413)

The intriguing thing throughout this chapter is Barth’s focus on the importance of gratitude.Not a big quote from Barth, but one that expresses a lot.

In the second part of this statement Barth issues this caveat:

‘Not to do this, not to desire it, to hold back is to deny the position in which we are put, to deny our love to God and therefore
the fact that we are loved by Him, to deny in fact our very status as children.’ {note, this is to be distinguished from a Love for God}
(Ibid, 1938:413,414)

I haven’t exactly found my reading of ‘3. The Praise of God’ as comfortable as I have other chapters. The primary reason for this, I think, has been Barth’s use of repetition to reinforce his sometimes complex arguments against Natural theology.

Barth is careful to address issues surrounding the manipulation of scripture to serve the ideology of the day. For example: Love for our neighbour cannot be equated with love for God, as blurring Jesus’ commandments to love God and others would mean that our neighbour becomes god. A big reason for this is that there would no longer be a ‘qualitative distinction’ (S.Kierkegaard) between the infinite and the finite. According to Barth, we must remember that love to God cannot exist without love for our neighbour.

We ‘love our neighbour (who is our beneficiary and someone who is also afflicted) within the freedom of the Divine order, that our praise may be obedience’ (Ibid, 1938:432). As surprising as it is, Barth is still extremely relevant. For instance: we are experiencing a struggle against a totalitarian double standard. Seen in the practical application of absolute tolerance, and then at the same time a suppression of free speech. This also includes the exaltation of minorities not just for equality, but as a proclamation of power over against a larger majority. Often going beyond the fight for equality to then demand inclusion from a majority who has already made concessions that recognise at least the humanity associated within both groups.

Which brings me to one of Barth’s major points: In loving our neighbour we must not deify our neighbour.

We can only praise God first with words and deeds grounded on gratitude, and secondly in our actions towards our neighbour.

To and from whom we chose to either give or receive.


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