Revelation Over Religion: God’s Mind Is Not For Rent

Any statement that includes the words ‘…but God. Is. Free.’ would be entering the realm of nuts and bolts Barthian theology.

The loose translation of the Latin in the image below reads: ‘God is not a species.’ He is not something/someone that humanity can adequately label or comprehend on their own.

In Church Dogmatics II:2 Barth builds on this. For Him, we cannot (and shouldn’t seek to) enslave God into the service of human ideas/ideology. God cannot be categorised, boxed and labelled outside what, who and how He freely chooses to reveal Himself to be. God of grace; covenant, mercy, just judgement – in sum: Jesus the Christ.

The revelation of God in Jesus Christ therefore stands over (and more often than not against) religious (human) ideas and attempts to reach God. This is because our ”work” overlooks, seeks to outdo and as a result outbid His reach for humanity.  He makes Himself relevant.

But God is free _ KBarth_GVL

From the covenants to Jesus Christ, Pentecost and onwards, according to Barth, God freely speaks and God freely acts. This is evidenced in John’s statement that ‘The Word was God and the Word was with God. All things were made through Him.’ (John 1)

 ‘grace became flesh and dwelt among us [i].’

I’m not sure about how far we could successfully conjoin, and hold together, for the sake of framing it in order to view it through an appropriate lens, Barth’s ‘God is free’ with the lyrics of Tom Sawyer by RUSH.  If I had to choose, these few words from the song would suffice:

‘No, his mind is not for rent
To any god or government'[ii]

Moving past any surface argument about semantics, Barth wants us to understand that the term ‘god’ is beyond the views and concepts we humans put on Him. In this sense, God is, therefore, by His very existence and in His freedom, beyond ‘god.’”

Therefore if we read the lyrics of ‘Tom Sawyer’ through Barth, we can view the essence of the One who in freedom moves, not because He is moved by an outside force, but because in His freedom chooses to act in love. Interceding and emancipating us from the ‘false consciousness'[iii] in exchange for what can only be true freedom because it’s source is God’s freedom. All this tells us, that in His freedom, God is for us. Even though our freedoms might come with necessary limitations, it is, under, in and because of God, “not up rent.”

[i] John Webster, {I remember reading this, but am unclear about the actual source. I am actively searching for it, though, and will add it when I locate it.}

[ii] ‘Revelation Over Religion’ is found in  Webster, J. 2000 Cambridge Companion to Karl Barth, p.246

[ii] Song: RUSH, 1981, ‘Tom Sawyer’ {lyrics…}

[iii] Karl Marx. Reinterpreted today this could be understood as a mindless, but happy servitude binding us up in unattainable utopian ideas of absolute freedom or oppressive laws of tolerance that enforce inequality under the guise of creating equality.

3 thoughts on “Revelation Over Religion: God’s Mind Is Not For Rent


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.