Karl Barth and the “Word-of-Godness” of Scripture

I often receive questions about Barth’s views on the Bible, which admittedly is a challenging topic. According to Karl Barth, the Bible is not revelation. The Bible is one of three modes of Barth’s doctrine of the Word of God. While Barth can say that the Bible is the Word of God, he will not, however, affirm that it is the revelation of God. Only God’s act of grace in Jesus Christ is revelation. Scripture, like the church’s preaching, merely witnesses to the Word of God in revelation. Consequently, the Bible is not inerrant.

Barth is also clear that there is a kind of becoming to the Bible as the Word of God. “The Word-of-Godness” (that’s my expression, not Barth’s) of Scripture is not inherent in Scripture itself. Rather, its “Word-of-Godness” is actualized “from above,” as it were, through God’s act of grace and self-disclosure in Jesus Christ. In other words, the “Word-of-Godness” that Scripture becomes arises not from Scripture itself, but from God.


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