Thursday, April 1, 2021

Barth on Calvin on Hope

In July 1922, Karl Barth gave an address, “The Need and Promise of Christian Preaching,” to a group of Reformed pastors. He chose to close his remarks with “a confession of hope”:

It consists of a few sentences taken from Calvin’s commentary on Micah 4:6 (“In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted”). “Although the church,” Calvin comments, “is at the present time hardly to be distinguished from a[134] dead or at best a sick man, there is no reason for despair, for the Lord raises up his own suddenly, as he waked the dead from the grave. This we must clearly remember, lest, when the church fails to shine forth, we conclude too quickly that her light has died utterly away. But the church in the world is so preserved that she rises suddenly from the dead. Her very preservation through the days is due to a succession of miracles. Let us cling to the remembrance that she is not without her resurrection, or rather, not without her many resurrections.

Source: Karl Barth, The Word of God and the Word of Man, trans. Douglas Horton (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1978), 134-5.

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