Christianity is for Beginners

I recently started reading Karl Barth’s “Evangelical Theology: An Introduction” and it has been a wonderful reminder of why he is considered one of the greatest theologians, if not the greatest, of the 20th century. He is so good.

I used this quote from Barth a couple of week’s ago at Tapestry.

The invocation “Our Father,” and all the Christian life and ethos implicit in this invocation, can never at any stage or in any form be anything but the work of beginners.

Karl Barth, The Christian Life – Page 122 

I think it is a great reminder that there are no experts in the Christian faith. We don’t move from Christian apprenticeship to a Christian journeyman to finally a Christian master craftsman. We are always beginners because we claim to be followers of God incarnate. We will never master what it means to follow Him. This should produce a great deal of humility within us.

As beginners we should always be open to learning and correction. As scripture says we should be “quick to listen” and “slow to speak” (James 1:19). This doesn’t mean we don’t speak and don’t confront, but it does mean that when we do we do so with great humility. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18). Our pride makes us want to be quick to speak, to think that we have mastered some aspect of faith and life. Pride leads to accusations and anger. Humility leads to questions and understanding.

If you call Jesus Lord then you have enter of faith of beginners. I’m not sure that this will ever change, even when we one day see our Lord face to face. Then we will know even as we are known (1 Corinthians 13:11-13) but that doesn’t mean we will have mastered anything.

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