Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Augustine and Barth on humility

"I was not humble enough to conceive of the humble Jesus Christ as my God."

- Augustine, Confessions VII.18

This quote reminded me of this great Barth quote, and also of this one:
What marks out God above all false gods is that they are not capable and ready for this [humility]. In their otherworldliness and supernaturalness and otherness, etc., the gods are a reflection of the human pride which will not unbend, which will not stoop to that which is beneath it. God is not proud. In His high majesty He is humble.

- Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV/1, 159.

We can become unwitting idolaters by thinking God is in our box, just another version of the best (or worst) in ourselves. Yet we can also worship a false god if we think God is so distant and different as to be entirely unknowable, or simply too important for the likes of us.
Twelve points for the Sydney location in the picture.

8 comments:

Rory Shiner said...

It doesn't get better than IV/1. I've never been as moved in reading theology as I was reading "the way of the Son of God into the far country" from IV/1. And that's from some one whose rather small brain is only operating at about a 30% Barth Comprehesion Rate.

Great quote. Thanks.

duncan andrews said...

Byron, do you think by saying 'in His high majesty He is humble' Barth maintains a distinction between God's majesty and humility, or is he saying that God's humility constitutes His majesty? Or is at least its fullest expression?

byron smith said...

Duncan, instead of answering your question, I recommend you read CD IV/1. I agree with Rory - nothing else I have read in the last five years has been as consistently moving or significant for my thinking. And I agree that the section 'The way of the Son of God into the far country' is the highlight (though I also loved the first twenty pages: 'God with us').

Rory Shiner said...

Amen. Imagine if I was smart enough to understand it--I'd be an emotional basket-case!

Rory Shiner said...

(In all seriousness, one of the many pleasures of IV/1 and particularly of "the way of the son of God" section is how relatively simple and understandable it is. It's like a stunning melodic Aria in the middle of a complex Opera)

duncan andrews said...

But i'd much rather draw firm conclusions based on small exerpts!! It's so much easier!

Ok, i'll get to it some day...

duncan andrews said...

Is the picture at Gordon's Bay, next to Clovelly?

byron smith said...

Indeed it is. Twelve points.