Multiform Jesus

Karl Barth, on seeing Jesus from many different and varied angles:

The recognition of Christian faith can and should be varied. The reason for this is as follows. Although its object, the Jesus Christ attested in Scripture and proclaimed by the community, is single, unitary, consistent and free from contradiction, yet for all His singularity and unity His form is inexhaustibly rich, so that it is not merely legitimate but obligatory that believers should continually see and understand it in new lights and aspects. For He Himself does not present Himself to them in one form but in many—indeed, He is not in Himself uniform but multiform. How can it be otherwise when He is the true Son of the God who is eternally rich? Of course, all knowledge of Jesus Christ will have not merely its basis but its limit and standard in the witness of Scripture and the proclamation of the Church. It is possible only within this definite sphere. It is only in this sphere that Jesus Christ has a form for us men, that He can therefore be an object of our knowledge and known by us. Again, it is a wide sphere with many possibilities …. Outside this sphere, Jesus Christ has no form for us; He is not an object of our knowledge and He cannot be known by us. The believer whom He has definitely encountered in this sphere and not elsewhere will not even try to seek Him outside this sphere. If he did, both Jesus Christ and his faith would dissolve into nothingness. (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV/1, 763)


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