aRt and tHeOlOgy: The Index Finger of The Immerser

September 13, 2013 — Leave a comment

From the mind of Martin Luther, the desk of Karl Barth and the easel of Matthias Grünewald.

‘The model of the biblical witness in his unity form is John the Baptist, who stands so notably at midpoint between the Old Testament and the New, between the prophets and the apostles…In this connection one might recall John the Baptist in Grunewald’s Crucifixion especially his prodigious index finger’ (Barth , CD.1.1:112)

Grunewald, 16th Century Crucifixion scene

The Crucifixion. Detail. St. John the Baptist. 1510-1515. Oil on panel. Karl Barth had Grunewald’s picture placed above his desk.

‘For we have John the Baptist’s Word and Spirit, and we parsons, preachers; Christians are in our time what John Baptist was in his time. We let John the Baptist’s finger point and his voice sound:

‘’BEHOLD, THE LAMB OF GOD THAT TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD’’

We deliver John’s sermon, point to Christ and say: ‘’this is the one true Saviour whom you should worship and to whom you should cleave. Such preaching must endure to the last day’

 (Luther cited by Barth, CD.1.1:102 italics mine)

John’s finger does not point in vain but really indicates when and where we are enabled by means of his word to see and hear what he saw and heard’ (Barth, CD.1.1:113)

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?’ (Hebrews 2:1-3)

‘Speaking stands in correlation to hearing, understanding and obeying…it is faith that hears, understands and obeys God’s speech’ (Barth, CD.1.1:135)

May. It.  Be. So.

Maranatha,

Rod.

Source:

Barth, K. 1936 Church Dogmatics: Vol 1: The Doctrine of the Word of God, Part 1 Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody Massachusetts

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