- What is in the Bible is not the word of man, but the Word of God. What does this mean? Primarily it means that it is God speaking to man and not the other way around. We learn who God is and hear Him address us. It is not our address to God or our attempt to address God (tower of Babel?) that matters.
- God's word does not necessarily address the questions that are posed to it by man. God has His own priorities and things that He wants to communicate in Scripture. When man approaches Scripture with questions to be answered it allows (forces) man to read the Bible incorrectly. It becomes a tool for man to "use" rather than a tool for God to communicate to man. Man shouldn't direct his understanding of God by the assuming that the Bible answers his questions. As we see in #1, God addresses man not vice versa.
- When the Bible is read in this way, the content of Scripture changes. For example, Old Testament stories are not necessarily viewed as moral examples or "ways to live." Man often understands the good and bad "behavior" of men like David in tension. They see David as merely a moral example - David did good things, so we should model our lives after David. What of the negative behavior. Often this is ignored or merely addressed by saying "let's not do this thing that David did" (adultery and the killing of Uriah, among other things). Barth's presentation of the Bible allows the reader to not struggle with this dichotomy. The Bible is not there to answer the question, "how am I able to be a moral person." The Bible speaks to us in each situation to reveal God and His being to us. It is not that we cannot glean moral behavior from the Biblical figures. We can. Nevertheless, these moral examples are not and end to themselves. They are meant to reveal God to us.
I've just finished reading Barth's essay "The Strange New World of the Bible" in Word of God and Word of Man for the third time. Each time I read the essay I understand a little more about what Barth was getting at. At least for my own benefit I'll enumerate what I have gleaned from it thus far.
Father, Pastor, Writer