The PostBarthian
6Aug/141

Karl Barth on Jesus Loves Me and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Twinkle, Twinkle, little star.

Twinkle, Twinkle, little star.

In the lore of Karl Barth, are two nursery rhymes that Barth used his great wit to respond to questions.

Jesus Loves Me

According to the best accounts of the incident I have heard (many have taken on weird additions), Karl Barth was at Rockefeller Chapel (really a Gothic cathedral!) on the campus of the University of Chicago during his lecture tour of the U.S. in 1962. After his lecture, during the Q & A time, a student asked Barth if he could summarize his whole life’s work in theology in a sentence. Barth allegedly said something like “Yes, I can. In the words of a song I learned at my mother’s knee: ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” That is the simple, unadorned story. Many tellers have adorned it with additions of their own (in sermons, etc.).

(source: Roger E. Olson, "Did Karl Barth Really Say “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know….?”")

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

After the service in a parish church where Barth had been preaching one Sunday, he was met at the door by a man who greeted him with these words: "Professor Barth, thank you for your sermon. I'm an astronomer, you know, and as far as I am concerned, the whole of Christianity can be summed up by saying, 'Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.'" Barth replied: "Well, I am just a humble theologian, and as far as I am concerned, the whole of astronomy can be summed up by saying, 'Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are.'"

(source: John D. Godsey, ed. George Hunsinger, "For the Sake of the World: Karl Barth and the Future of Ecclesial Theology")

 

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