Reflection for the Week - 18th July 2016
In training to be a minister,I spent three years studying theology. During that time I studied the work of theologians from Aquinas and Augustine, through to Moltmann and Bonhoeffer. I had to get my head round tricky names, and complex ideas, and which idea belonged to which name! I studied justification, and Christology, and atonement amongst many other theological subjects.
After reading books and books, I was spiritually refreshed to find a story about one of the greatest theologians of ‘modern’ (20th Century) times – the Swiss-German theologian, Karl Barth.
Towards the end of his life Dr.Barth delivered a lecture at the University of Chicago Divinity School. At the end of the lecture, the president of the seminary told the audience that Dr. Barth was tired and unwell, and although he thought that Dr. Barth would really like to be open to questions, he probably wouldn’t be able to handle the strain. Then he said, “Therefore I’ll just ask one question on behalf of all of us.” Turning to Dr. Barth he asked, “Of all the theological insights you have ever had, which do you consider to be the greatest of them all?”
This was a remarkable question to ask a man who had written tens of thousands of pages of some of the most sophisticated theology ever put on paper. The students sat with pens poised, eager to jot down the foremost insight of the greatest theologian of their time.
Karl Barth closed his eyes and thought for a while, as if sifting through his years of thinking and writing for that most precious nugget of theological insight. Then he smiled, opened his eyes, and said to the young seminarians, “The greatest theological insight that I have ever had is this: Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!”
Of all the millions of words that have been said and written the foremost theological insight is found in a children’s hymn… how wonderfully uplifting and sustaining… how refreshingly simple!
1. Jesus loves me! This I know,for the Bible tells me so;
little ones to Him belong;they are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me!Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!The Bible tells me so.
2. Jesus loves me! This I know,as He loved so long ago,
taking children on His knee,saying, “Let them come to Me.”
3. Jesus loves me still today,walking with me on my way,
wanting as a friend to give light and love to all who live.
4. Jesus loves me! He who died heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,let His little child come in.
5. Jesus loves me! He will stay close beside me all the way;
thou hast bled and died for me,I will henceforth live for Thee.
(Story found in the book: ’Let Me Tell You a Story’.
Tony Campolo. 2000. p.22-23)