Respect My Authorit-ai!

In what way is the Bible authoritative?

In that it claims no authority whatsoever for itself, that its witness amounts to letting the Something else be the authority, itself and by its own agency. Therefore we do the Bible a poor honour, and one unwelcome to itself, when we directly identify it with this something else, with revelation itself.

I will probably never be invited to speak at a Christian Union event again in my lifetime, but is Barth not right here? Or at least more right than the protestations of Scriptural authority that we settle for in the evangelical world? The Scripture is authoritative in the sense (greater but of the same kid that any word about God is authoritative- if it truthfully points towards God.

As interesting as the evangelical attempts to secure the authority of Scripture by arguing that it is Revelation full and complete have been, for Barth, they are ultimately, “to control the Bible and so set up barriers against its control over Him”.

Your Correspondent, Won’t quote South Park again. Promise.


  1. I cant find my TROUSERS says:

    aah holy toe-curlers zoomy youve just opened a whole different can of shite-worms today so you have.

    What then is authoritative? and with respect to your answer yesterday about re-orienterring to the centre, what makes you able to say you are going to the centre?

    I can only see at the moment that without an authority, you become the authority

    Your comentator, thinks the zoom would make a fine pope

  2. MG says:

    I’m confused. Is Barth saying that the Bible has authority not because it comes from God but because it points truthfully towards God? Is this then linked into the earlier quote about if God speaks through a dead dog etc then we should listen? We should listen because if it speaks truthfully about God then it is authoritative for us?

    Why doesn’t Barth like revelation, is it solely because the Bible, as he says, does not claim revelation for itself? For us to ad it is then to control it in a way which it doesn’t allow itself to be controlled?

    And how does this compare to Wright’s understanding of authority? Or are they using the word in different contexts?

    You can take your pick as to which question to answer 😉

  3. Van Peebles says:

    This is such an interesting series…

    You’ve probably read this, but it’s a terrific and concise evangelical appreciation of Barth:

    Full power to your elbow!

  4. zoomtard says:

    TROUSERS: I’ll take your questions to Zoomtard cos they are good ones.

    Not to suggest yours aren’t MG. But I can write that answer off the top of my head. The Bible’s authority is (at least) twofold for Barth (who knows what else he will unfurl on us over the next few years) is authoritative because it is the Word of God and then becomes authoritative in a whole new fashion when the Spirit opens the eyes of the reader to make it the Word of God heard.

    Only God can speak authoratively about God; that is a major part of Barth’s theology (I think). For Barth, true authority however lies in the Word, that is Jesus. The Bible is authoritative because it is God’s record of Jesus, it is our source for Jesus. Revelation is not a text, it is ultimately a person. The Bible is authoritative because it shows us who Jesus is (and becomes authoritative in a fresh when we actually see).

    Wright’s understanding of authority is in a different context I think.

    Van Peebles: thanks for your support and the fascinating link. 🙂

  5. MG says:

    Right so, that’s a lot clearer thanks!

  6. The Gleddiesmith says:

    It seems to me that the bit that is not in the picture is the role of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is authorative because it shows us Jesus. How does it do that? Well it is the Spirit that takes a record and reflection on Jesus in history and makes it the actual experience of Jesus in our moment of history.

  7. arseattack says:

    The Gleddiesmith should take his opinions BACK TO THE REPUBLIC OF NOT-AMERICA and stay there.

  8. arseattack says:

    🙂 . I forgot to add that to indicate I was joking and am friendly.

  9. mshedden says:

    Where has Barth gone?

  10. QM says:

    [late afternoon pick-me-up]

    So, the bible isn’t an authority. God is authority.
    All gods, or only the god discussed in the bible?
    But you only know god through the bible! God is what the bible says god is. The bible defines god for you-- other texts define god for different religions. If you shy away from the ‘magicness’ of the bible its ever more flaky.

    >>> Only God can speak authoratively about God
    So is the bible NOT god breathed then? Or does god speak through humans and over rule the bible? (God told me you’re wrong, and he told GWB we’re both wrong… and told Osama that we’re alllll wrong)
    >>> For Barth, true authority however lies in the Word, that is Jesus
    The only reported words you claim to of Jesus-- are in the bible. If the bible is any way confusing or inaccurate, in any shape or form-- then you don’t got nuffin! You have roomer, myth, hearsay and distilled political doctrine. It’s at the very very least reasonable not to conclude Jesus is god… in which case if he IS god -- he doesn’t want reasonable people to know it-- he wants, largely, the children of Christian parents.

    I realize you’re into this theology lark pretty deep now, and there must be a large part of your esteem and career wrapped up in it for better or worse-- but there must be some part of you wonders sometimes about the circular logic of it all.

  11. I cant find my TROUSERS says:

    Heres three links by big-time catholics who are talking about authority from their point of view which scares me to be honest. The first two are from a guy whose blog has a stamp of approval from the pope himself. The last is a proffesor in Harvard. Zoom if you can mess with these boys you deserve to be dean of maynooth.

  12. I cant find my TROUSERS says:


    Rather than just make you do the work i thought i would summaris my problems with the links i had posted.

    I tried to argue with them but i got whooped. I actually argued with them not at the above links but here
    The debate started off with a the bloggers take on Protestantism’s idea of the “plain sense” of scripture.

    basically they are saying that Protestants rely on the internal witness of the Spirit in guiding them to what the bible teaches but that this is not enough as they say Protestants need an outside agent to verify that what they are saying is the truth of the bible is actually true, otherwise you end up with as many denominations as you do “plain meaning”s . They also say that even though the magesterium likewise relies on the internal witness of the Spirit, its (the magesterium’s) interpretation is proven to be true because the catholic church has stayed consistent whilst Protestantism has splintered on a regular basis.

    Whatever about the consistency of catholicism ( or though i believe they have good thinking there too i.e. i dont think simply throwing limbo at them is enough) My main problem is how DO we know for sure that what we claim to be the plain meaning is the truth when there is so much disagreement over it?

    Considering the thread of this post i thought you might be interested.

  13. I cant find my TROUSERS says:

    Take this barth bitch!!

    “This is what we would say on the subject: every intellectual worker worthy of the name has something which for convenience we will call “a mysticism.” He may even have two: a religious mysticism, a profound devotion to the person of Christ, for example; and a cultural mysticism, such as adherence to the positivist principle in science, to subjectivist and evolutionary humanism, to the doctrine of universal mechanistic determinism; in brief, to scientific conformism. Sentimentally, intellectually and in every other respect, criticism has gained as a result of the humanist ideology of the 18th and 19th centuries, so that “modern” man — “modern” let it be understood in the already historical and traditional sense of the term — if he wishes to remain or become religious, can no longer give his religion the hyperphysical and transcendent foundation of the affirmations of the Apostles’ Creed: prophecy and miracle, in the sense of a special divine intervention in the causal series of events, appear to him as radical impossibilities. He is compelled to distinguish carefully between the faith of confidence and the faith of belief in “sacred history,” which reflects a manner of thinking that his ideology forces him to consider out-of-date. Thus it is in the believer’s subjectivity that he must seek the foundations of his religious life. Neo-Protestant theology thus betrays its connection with the philosophical psychologism dominant in the mid-19th century in France.”


    From a dude by the name of Lecerf- a french hairy one (i.e. a calvinist)

RSS feed for comments on this post, TrackBack URI

Leave a Comment