Monday, May 10, 2010

Barth and Christian joy

On Friday, we read this rather uncharacteristic bit from Barth:
He talks about the oxymoron of a “gloomy, morose and melancholy Gospel” and then says, “A troubled Christian is per definitionem not a Christian, because as such he is definitely not in a position to be a witness of Jesus Christ. To be sure, it is not his personal joyousness which makes him a witness. For this is not what makes his witness true. But he can be enabled to give the true witness entrusted to him only when its content, which makes it true witness, gives him personal joy, making him a bright and merry Christian” (CD IV.3.2, 662).
I told the story of an older Christian gentleman in my first church who confided in me that, ever since a former pastor had preached on Revelation 21:8--that the fearful (KJV) will have a place in the lake of fire--and claimed that "fearful" includes "worried," he had been really worried! I was trying to make the connection that telling Christians who aren't "bright and merry" that they aren't real Christians isn't likely to make them any more joyous.
Then on Sunday, Nigel preached about joy from 1 Peter 1, and he made a really cool connection:
Our joy--and Barth would clearly agree--is dependent on the One in whose power we are securely held.