“A Christianity Which Misunderstands Itself”

By Edward Thal /

Any Christian who seeks a deeper walk with God will soon realize that everything he sees, hears and touches in “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:3-4) is tainted by “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4) and should be held very lightly. What the world values, emulates, promotes and enjoys is seldom likely to bring anyone closer to God, however well packaged it might be.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul urges us to break away from the anti-God way of thinking that pervades the world system: nothing but a mind transformation will enable us to discern the truth that flows only from the mind of God (Romans 12:1-2).

This truth includes the fact that we are not called to understand God or to explain God or to present God festooned with frills and velvet wrapping: we are simply to obey God.

Karl Barth, in his great commentary on the Epistle to the Romans expands this thought when he notes that discipleship demands death to the world because the alternative is an ineffective peace-pact with the world in which Christianity finds itself as one among many religions and philosophies vying for attention.

“If men must have their religious needs satisfied, if they must surround themselves with comfortable illusions about their knowledge of God and particularly about their union with Him – well, the world penetrates far deeper into such matters than does a Christianity which misunderstands itself.”

“Our desire to comprehend the world in relation to God must proceed either from the criminal arrogance of religion or from that final apprehension of truth which lies beyond birth and death – the perception, in other words, which proceeds from God outwards.”

“The Gospel speaks of God as He is; it is concerned with Him Himself and Him only…we cannot here and now apprehend God – we can only receive the Gospel.” (Barth, “Romans”, pg. 37)