Note: One of my favorite appetizers is warm melty Brie with jalapeno pepper jelly mounted atop its oozing carcass. Using a Trader Joe's rice cracker as a spade, the Epicurean archeologist will find immediate pleasure while simultaneously prompted to further digging. Below you will find an appetizer for the soul: something tasty enough to spark further examination, but by itself, just plain good. How is one assured of God's kindness amidst an evidence room filled with damning bits, documents, and weapons? One must either attack the message and opinion of God (the Gospel) or attack oneself. Read Karl Barth*— a rice cracker with a savory mound of theological relish:
We might imagine the conversation... The man to whom [the Word of grace is spoken] thinks and says that he is not this new, peaceful, joyful man living in fellowship. He asks leave honestly to admit that he does not know this man, or at least himself as this man.
The Word of grace replies: “All honour to your honesty, but my truth transcends it. Allow yourself, therefore, to be told in all truth and on the most solid grounds what you do not know, namely, that you are this man in spite of what you think.”
Man: “You think that I can and should become this man in the course of time? But I do not have sufficient confidence in myself to believe this. Knowing myself, I shall never become this man.”
The Word of grace: “You do well not to have confidence in yourself. But the point is not that you can and should become this man. What I am telling you is that, as I know you, you already are.”
Man: “I understand that you mean this eschatologically [end-of-times]. You are referring to the man I perhaps will be one day in some not very clearly known transfiguration in a distant eternity. If only I had attained to this! And if only I could be certain that even then I should be this new man!”
The Word of grace: “You need to understand both yourself and me better than you do. I am not inviting you to speculate about your being in eternity, but to receive and ponder the news that here and now you begin to be the new man, and are already that which you will be eternally.”
Man: “How can I accept this news? On what guarantee can I make bold to take is seriously?”
The Word of grace: “I, Jesus Christ, am the One who speaks to you. You are what you are in Me, as I will to be in you. Hold fast to Me. I am your guarantee. My boldness is yours. With this boldness dare to be what you are?”
Man: “I certainly hear the message, but…”
In this perplexed and startled “but” we see the attack, and who it is that is attacked.
* Church Dogmatics, Volume I