Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Remarks by President Obama at the University of Yangon Rangoon, Burma


For Immediate Release
November 19, 2012
Remarks by President Obama at the University of Yangon

Rangoon, Burma

2:39 P.M. MMT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Myanmar Naingan, Mingalaba!  (Laughter and applause.)  I am very honored to be here at this university and to be the first President of the United States of America to visit your country.

I came here because of the importance of your country.  You live at the crossroads of East and South Asia.  You border the most populated nations on the planet.  You have a history that reaches back thousands of years, and the ability to help determine the destiny of the fastest growing region of the world.

I came here because of the beauty and diversity of your country.  I have seen just earlier today the golden stupa of Shwedagon, and have been moved by the timeless idea of metta -- the belief that our time on this Earth can be defined by tolerance and by love.  And I know this land reaches from the crowded neighborhoods of this old city to the homes of more than 60,000 villages; from the peaks of the Himalayas, the forests of Karen State, to the banks of the Irrawady River.

I came here because of my respect for this university.  It was here at this school where opposition to colonial rule first took hold.  It was here that Aung San edited a magazine before leading an independence movement.  It was here that U Thant learned the ways of the world before guiding it at the United Nations.  Here, scholarship thrived during the last century and students demanded their basic human rights.  Now, your Parliament has at last passed a resolution to revitalize this university and it must reclaim its greatness, because the future of this country will be determined by the education of its youth.

I came here because of the history between our two countries.  A century ago, American traders, merchants and missionaries came here to build bonds of faith and commerce and friendship.  And from within these borders in World War II, our pilots flew into China and many of our troops gave their lives.  Both of our nations emerged from the British Empire, and the United States was among the first countries to recognize an independent Union of Burma.  We were proud to found an American Center in Rangoon and to build exchanges with schools like this one.  And through decades of differences, Americans have been united in their affection for this country and its people.

Above all, I came here because of America’s belief in human dignity.  Over the last several decades, our two countries became strangers.  But today, I can tell you that we always remained hopeful about the people of this country, about you.  You gave us hope and we bore witness to your courage.

We saw the activists dressed in white visit the families of political prisoners on Sundays and monks dressed in saffron protesting peacefully in the streets.  We learned of ordinary people who organized relief teams to respond to a cyclone, and heard the voices of students and the beats of hip-hop artists projecting the sound of freedom.  We came to know exiles and refugees who never lost touch with their families or their ancestral home.  And we were inspired by the fierce dignity of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as she proved that no human being can truly be imprisoned if hope burns in your heart.

When I took office as President, I sent a message to those governments who ruled by fear.  I said, in my inauguration address, “We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”  And over the last year and a half, a dramatic transition has begun, as a dictatorship of five decades has loosened its grip.  Under President Thein Sein, the desire for change has been met by an agenda for reform.  A civilian now leads the government, and a parliament is asserting itself.  The once-outlawed National League for Democracy stood in an election, and Aung San Suu Kyi is a Member of Parliament.  Hundreds of prisoners of conscience have been released, and forced labor has been banned.  Preliminary cease-fires have been reached with ethnic armies, and new laws allow for a more open economy.

So today, I’ve come to keep my promise and extend the hand of friendship.  America now has an Ambassador in Rangoon, sanctions have been eased, and we will help rebuild an economy that can offer opportunity for its people, and serve as an engine of growth for the world.  But this remarkable journey has just begun, and has much further to go.  Reforms launched from the top of society must meet the aspirations of citizens who form its foundation.  The flickers of progress that we have seen must not be extinguished -- they must be strengthened; they must become a shining North Star for all this nation’s people.

And your success in that effort is important to the United States, as well as to me.  Even though we come from different places, we share common dreams:  to choose our leaders; to live together in peace; to get an education and make a good living; to love our families and our communities.  That’s why freedom is not an abstract idea; freedom is the very thing that makes human progress possible -- not just at the ballot box, but in our daily lives.

One of our greatest Presidents in the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, understood this truth.  He defined America’s cause as more than the right to cast a ballot.  He understood democracy was not just voting.  He called upon the world to embrace four fundamental freedoms:  freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.  These four freedoms reinforce one another, and you cannot fully realize one without realizing them all.

So that's the future that we seek for ourselves, and for all people.  And that is what I want to speak to you about today.

First, we believe in the right of free expression so that the voices of ordinary people can be heard, and governments reflect their will -- the people's will.

In the United States, for more than two centuries, we have worked to keep this promise for all of our citizens -- to win freedom for those who were enslaved; to extend the right to vote for women and African Americans; to protect the rights of workers to organize.

And we recognize no two nations achieve these rights in exactly the same way, but there is no question that your country will be stronger if it draws on the strength of all of its people.  That’s what allows nations to succeed.  That’s what reform has begun to do.

Instead of being repressed, the right of people to assemble together must now be fully respected.  Instead of being stifled, the veil of media censorship must continue to be lifted.  And as you take these steps, you can draw on your progress.  Instead of being ignored, citizens who protested the construction of the Myitsone dam were heard.  Instead of being outlawed, political parties have been allowed to participate.  You can see progress being made.  As one voter said during the parliamentary elections here, “Our parents and grandparents waited for this, but never saw it.”  And now you can see it.  You can taste freedom.

And to protect the freedom of all the voters, those in power must accept constraints.  That's what our American system is designed to do.  Now, America may have the strongest military in the world, but it must submit to civilian control.  I, as the President of the United States, make determinations that the military then carries out, not the other way around.  As President and Commander-In-Chief, I have that responsibility because I'm accountable to the people.

Now, on other hand, as President, I cannot just impose my will on Congress -- the Congress of the United States -- even though sometimes I wish I could.  The legislative branch has its own powers and its own prerogatives, and so they check my power and balance my power.  I appoint some of our judges, but I cannot tell them how to rule, because every person in America -- from a child living in poverty to me, the President of the United States -- is equal under the law.  And a judge can make a determination as to whether or not I am upholding the law or breaking the law.  And I am fully accountable to that law.

And I describe our system in the United States because that's how you must reach for the future that you deserve -- a future where a single prisoner of conscience is one too many.  You need to reach for a future where the law is stronger than any single leader, because it's accountable to the people.  You need to reach for a future where no child is made to be a soldier and no woman is exploited, and where the laws protect them even if they're vulnerable, even if they're weak; a future where national security is strengthened by a military that serves under civilians and a Constitution that guarantees that only those who are elected by the people may govern.

On that journey, America will support you every step of the way -- by using our assistance to empower civil society; by engaging your military to promote professionalism and human rights; and by partnering with you as you connect your progress towards democracy with economic development.  So advancing that journey will help you pursue a second freedom -- the belief that all people should be free from want.

It's not enough to trade a prison of powerlessness for the pain of an empty stomach.  But history shows that governments of the people and by the people and for the people are far more powerful in delivering prosperity.  And that's the partnership we seek with you.

When ordinary people have a say in their own future, then your land can’t just be taken away from you.  And that's why reforms must ensure that the people of this nation can have that most fundamental of possessions -- the right to own the title to the land on which you live and on which you work.

When your talents are unleashed, then opportunity will be created for all people.  America is lifting our ban on companies doing business here, and your government has lifted restrictions on investment and taken steps to open up your economy.  And now, as more wealth flows into your borders, we hope and expect that it will lift up more people.  It can't just help folks at the top.  It has to help everybody.  And that kind of economic growth, where everybody has opportunity -- if you work hard, you can succeed -- that's what gets a nation moving rapidly when it comes to develop.

But that kind of growth can only be created if corruption is left behind.  For investment to lead to opportunity, reform must promote budgets that are transparent and industry that is privately owned.

To lead by example, America now insists that our companies meet high standards of openness and transparency if they're doing business here.  And we'll work with organizations like the World Bank to support small businesses and to promote an economy that allows entrepreneurs, small businesspeople to thrive and allows workers to keep what they earn.  And I very much welcome your government’s recent decision to join what we've called our Open Government Partnership, so that citizens can come to expect accountability and learn exactly how monies are spent and how your system of government operates.

Above all, when your voices are heard in government, it's far more likely that your basic needs will be met.  And that’s why reform must reach the daily lives of those who are hungry and those who are ill, and those who live without electricity or water.  And here, too, America will do our part in working with you.

Today, I was proud to reestablish our USAID mission in this country, which is our lead development agency.  And the United States wants to be a partner in helping this country, which used to be the rice bowl of Asia, to reestablish its capacity to feed its people and to care for its sick, and educate its children, and build its democratic institutions as you continue down the path of reform.

This country is famous for its natural resources, and they must be protected against exploitation.  And let us remember that in a global economy, a country’s greatest resource is its people.  So by investing in you, this nation can open the door for far more prosperity -- because unlocking a nation’s potential depends on empowering all its people, especially its young people.

Just as education is the key to America’s future, it is going to the be the key to your future as well.  And so we look forward to working with you, as we have with many of your neighbors, to extend that opportunity and to deepen exchanges among our students.  We want students from this country to travel to the United States and learn from us, and we want U.S. students to come here and learn from you.

And this truth leads me to the third freedom that I want to discuss:  the freedom to worship -- the freedom to worship as you please, and your right to basic human dignity.

This country, like my own country, is blessed with diversity.  Not everybody looks the same.  Not everybody comes from the same region.  Not everybody worships in the same way.  In your cities and towns, there are pagodas and temples, and mosques and churches standing side by side.  Well over a hundred ethnic groups have been a part of your story.  Yet within these borders, we’ve seen some of the world’s longest running insurgencies, which have cost countless lives, and torn families and communities apart, and stood in the way of development.

No process of reform will succeed without national reconciliation.  (Applause.)  You now have a moment of remarkable opportunity to transform cease-fires into lasting settlements, and to pursue peace where conflicts still linger, including in Kachin State.  Those efforts must lead to a more just and lasting peace, including humanitarian access to those in need, and a chance for the displaced to return home.

Today, we look at the recent violence in Rakhine State that has caused so much suffering, and we see the danger of continued tensions there.  For too long, the people of this state, including ethnic Rakhine, have faced crushing poverty and persecution.  But there is no excuse for violence against innocent people.  And the Rohingya hold themselves -- hold within themselves the same dignity as you do, and I do.

National reconciliation will take time, but for the sake of our common humanity, and for the sake of this country’s future, it is necessary to stop incitement and to stop violence.  And I welcome the government’s commitment to address the issues of injustice and accountability, and humanitarian access and citizenship.  That’s a vision that the world will support as you move forward.

Every nation struggles to define citizenship.  America has had great debates about these issues, and those debates continue to this day, because we’re a nation of immigrants -- people coming from every different part of the world.  But what we’ve learned in the United States is that there are certain principles that are universal, apply to everybody no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what religion you practice.  The right of people to live without the threat that their families may be harmed or their homes may be burned simply because of who they are or where they come from.

Only the people of this country ultimately can define your union, can define what it means to be a citizen of this country.  But I have confidence that as you do that you can draw on this diversity as a strength and not a weakness.  Your country will be stronger because of many different cultures, but you have to seize that opportunity.  You have to recognize that strength.

I say this because my own country and my own life have taught me the power of diversity.  The United States of America is a nation of Christians and Jews, and Muslims and Buddhists, and Hindus and non-believers.  Our story is shaped by every language; it’s enriched by every culture.  We have people from every corners of the world.  We’ve tasted the bitterness of civil war and segregation, but our history shows us that hatred in the human heart can recede; that the lines between races and tribes fade away.  And what’s left is a simple truth: e pluribus unum -- that’s what we say in America.  Out of many, we are one nation and we are one people.  And that truth has, time and again, made our union stronger.  It has made our country stronger.  It’s part of what has made America great.

We amended our Constitution to extend the democratic principles that we hold dear.  And I stand before you today as President of the most powerful nation on Earth, but recognizing that once the color of my skin would have denied me the right to vote.  And so that should give you some sense that if our country can transcend its differences, then yours can, too.  Every human being within these borders is a part of your nation’s story, and you should embrace that.  That’s not a source of weakness, that’s a source of strength -- if you recognize it.

And that brings me to the final freedom that I will discuss today, and that is the right of all people to live free from fear.

In many ways, fear is the force that stands between human beings and their dreams.  Fear of conflict and the weapons of war.  Fear of a future that is different from the past.  Fear of changes that are reordering our societies and economy.  Fear of people who look different, or come from a different place, or worship in a different way.  In some of her darkest moments, when Aung San Suu Kyi was imprisoned, she wrote an essay about freedom from fear.  She said fear of losing corrupts those who wield it -- “Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it, and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.”

That's the fear that you can leave behind.  We see that chance in leaders who are beginning to understand that power comes from appealing to people’s hopes, not people's fears.  We see it in citizens who insist that this time must be different, that this time change will come and will continue.  As Aung San Suu Kyi wrote: “Fear is not the natural state of civilized man.”  I believe that.  And today, you are showing the world that fear does not have to be the natural state of life in this country.

That’s why I am here.  That’s why I came to Rangoon.  And that’s why what happens here is so important -- not only to this region, but to the world.  Because you're taking a journey that has the potential to inspire so many people.  This is a test of whether a country can transition to a better place.

The United States of America is a Pacific nation, and we see our future as bound to those nations and peoples to our West.  And as our economy recovers, this is where we believe we will find enormous growth.  As we have ended the wars that have dominated our foreign policy for a decade, this region will be a focus for our efforts to build a prosperous peace.

Here in Southeast Asia, we see the potential for integration among nations and people.  And as President, I have embraced ASEAN for reasons that go beyond the fact that I spent some of my childhood in this region, in Indonesia.  Because with ASEAN, we see nations that are on the move -- nations that are growing, and democracies that are emerging; governments that are cooperating; progress that’s building on the diversity that spans oceans and islands and jungles and cities, peoples of every race and every religion.  This is what the 21st century should look like if we have the courage to put aside our differences and move forward with a sense of mutual interest and mutual respect.

And here in Rangoon, I want to send a message across Asia: We don’t need to be defined by the prisons of the past.  We need to look forward to the future.  To the leadership of North Korea, I have offered a choice:  let go of your nuclear weapons and choose the path of peace and progress.  If you do, you will find an extended hand from the United States of America.

In 2012, we don’t need to cling to the divisions of East, West and North and South.  We welcome the peaceful rise of China, your neighbor to the North; and India, your neighbor to the West.  The United Nations -- the United States will work with any nation, large or small, that will contribute to a world that is more peaceful and more prosperous, and more just and more free.  And the United States will be a friend to any nation that respects the rights of its citizens and the responsibilities of international law. 

That's the nation, that's the world that you can start to build here in this historic city.  This nation that's been so isolated can show the world the power of a new beginning, and demonstrate once again that the journey to democracy goes hand in hand with development.  I say this knowing that there are still countless people in this country who do not enjoy the opportunities that many of you seated here do.  There are tens of millions who have no electricity.  There are prisoners of conscience who still await release.  There are refugees and displaced peoples in camps where hope is still something that lies on the distant horizon.

Today, I say to you -- and I say to everybody that can hear my voice -- that the United States of America is with you, including those who have been forgotten, those who are dispossessed, those who are ostracized, those who are poor.  We carry your story in our heads and your hopes in our hearts, because in this 21st century with the spread of technology and the breaking down of barriers, the frontlines of freedom are within nations and individuals, not simply between them.

As one former prisoner put it in speaking to his fellow citizens, “Politics is your job.  It’s not only for [the] politicians.”  And we have an expression in the United States that the most important office in a democracy is the office of citizen -- not President, not Speaker, but citizen.  (Applause.)

So as extraordinary and difficult and challenging and sometimes frustrating as this journey may seem, in the end, you, the citizens of this country, are the ones who must define what freedom means.  You're the ones who are going to have to seize freedom, because a true revolution of the spirit begins in each of our hearts.  It requires the kind of courage that so many of your leaders have already displayed.

The road ahead will be marked by huge challenges, and there will be those who resist the forces of change.  But I stand here with confidence that something is happening in this country that cannot be reversed, and the will of the people can lift up this nation and set a great example for the world.  And you will have in the United States of America a partner on that long journey.  So, cezu tin bad de.  (Applause.)

Thank you.  (Applause.)

END 
3:10 P.M. MMT

KARL BARTH AND THE WORD OF GOD

KARL BARTH AND THE WORD OF GOD

    Karl Barth’s distinction as arguably the most influential and important theologian of the 20th century has very little to do with the sheer volume of his work, although at over 600 books and articles it is quite impressive. Nor does the label result from some brand new area of theological thought never before contemplated. Rather, it is the timing of his theology, in the aftermath of the Enlightenment and just before the dawn of Modernism, that led to Barth’s impact on the thinking society.
 Barth’s theology was radical in the way it completely opposed the popular thought of the early part of the century. It brought him great criticism from colleagues and peers and even cost him at least one prestigious university position. However, it’s universally accepted that most every American and European theologian during that time and since has labored either to apply and continue Barth’s work or to discredit it. Regardless, they have all been, and will continue to be, influenced by him. Theologian Eberhard Jungel, a student of Barth’s, wrote in 1982,
 Barth’s personal and literary influence profoundly changed the shape of Christian theology across confessional boundaries, significantly altered the direction of the Protestant church, and also left an unmistakable imprint on the politics and cultural life of the 20th century. Barth defied both the enduring and the passing currents of his time, even as he was conditioned by them. His unmistakable genius was a product of the times and their need for renewal, and at the same time it was a force behind the changes that occurred during this century.
Ironically, Barth did not consider himself a revolutionary or a church patriarch. He thought himself entirely objective theologically, philosophically, and spiritually. And it was this mindset that allowed him to advance his, at that time, extreme theology.
    Barth’s ideas can best be understood by focusing on the one area that begins and carries and ends seemingly every word that came out of his mouth in lectures or was produced by his pen in books: the three-fold doctrine of the Word of God.
    All Christian theology has always been done in accordance with scripture. Even those theologians and schools of thought that stress tradition or experience have always been kept in check by the scriptures. But, at the turn of the century, the precise role of the Bible in theology had still never been completely identified. That’s the reason Barth’s ideology had, and continues to have, such an impact. His 13 volume, 8,000 page Church Dogmatics, the work with which he’s most closely associated, spelled this out from the start. Barth emphatically declares that the Bible is not a book of man’s thoughts about God and the actions of God, but rather God’s intimate thoughts and actions about and regarding man. According to Barth,
the Bible tells us not how we should talk with God but what he says to us; not how we find the way to him, but how he has sought and found the way to us; not the right relation in which we must place ourselves in him, but the covenant which he has made with all who are Abraham’s spiritual children and which he has sealed once for all in Jesus Christ. It is this which is within the Bible. The word of God is within the Bible.   
Theology never begins with history, experience, human consciousness, progress, self-awareness, or philosophical speculation. Barth says it begins and ends with the Bible.
Barth’s three-fold doctrine of the Holy Scriptures seeks to understand the Bible as the word of God in Trinitarian form: as revealed in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, as written in the scriptures themselves, and as proclaimed in the preaching of the church. And just as neither of the three forms of God can exist separately from the other two, so it is with God’s word. In describing this interrelation, Barth wrote in the initial volume of Church Dogmatics,
The revealed Word of God we know only from the scripture adopted by Church proclamation, or from church proclamation based on Scripture. The written Word of God we know only through the revelation which makes proclamation possible, or through the proclamation made possible by revelation. The proclaimed Word of God we know only by knowing the revelation attested through Scripture, or by knowing the Scripture which attests revelation.   
Let us first examine the Word of God as revealed in Jesus Christ, which Barth claims to be the primary form of God’s word. That viewpoint naturally agrees with the apostle John who wrote that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God,” John 1:1 and, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,” John 1:14. The Word, God Himself, becoming flesh is the revelation. It’s the singular thought around which all of Barth’s theology revolves and the starting point for all of his teachings. Therefore, all religious talk --- all talk of God, creation, humanity, salvation, glory, the church --- boils down to Jesus Christ. It all draws out of the Incarnation of Christ. It’s repetitious and redundant to speak of these things and of Jesus as separate. While modern theologians are discussing theories of human experience, hermeneutics, and historical analysis of understanding, Barth departs from this because “his understanding of God as Lord will not permit the thought that human reality is some relatively independent sphere within the terms of which God must appear.”
    God speaks to man through Jesus Christ. He communicates to man, He reveals Himself to man, and He reaches out to man through Christ. For Barth, all of God’s dealings with man are in and through Jesus. Any knowledge we have of God comes through Christ. For “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” John 14:9. And it’s this revelation that lies at the very heart of scripture and the preaching of the church.
    It’s “none of self and all of Thee” thinking. It was intellectual suicide. And it could not have been more different from what every other theologian in the world was practicing.
    The Bible as the actual written scripture is the second tier of Barth’s three-fold doctrine of the Word of God. This thought alone demands almost 300 pages in Church Dogmatics. Like the Incarnation, the Bible is a field of divine activity, an instrument of holy communication. The Bible and its writers are used by God to testify that He has already spoken and already acted. He commissions human words to witness to His revelation activities. And He works through the church’s use of the Scriptures, clearly seen in the way that Bible attitudes and Bible practices characterize God’s people in the church.
    For Barth, the Bible is not the revelation itself. That still goes, and will always go, back to the Incarnation of Jesus. But the Scriptures point directly to that Christ Event and witness to that Event as it impacted humanity. It’s a collection of human texts by human writers that functions as the bearer of the news of the revelation. And that revelation is at the very center of the Bible. The Old Testament writers look ahead to Christ while the New Testament authors look back. It’s just human words on paper and ink. But it becomes the Word of God in the event of the revelation. John H. Leith, a Professor of Theology at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, wrote of Barth’s teachings in 1976,

The Bible as the forward and backward looking testimony to Jesus Christ sets the boundaries and is the unique authorization for all Christian theology; that is to say, all statements of Christian theology must be justified by reference to canonical Scripture.
   
Of course, Barth acknowledges that the Bible is human speech --- that it was written by specific men at a specific time in a specific place for a specific purpose. But it’s at this point in his theology that he, again, takes a drastic turn away from the dominant thought of his day. Barth claims that Bible readers must be shaped by the divine Word they encounter every time they open the Book. Instead of applying history and culture in one’s interpretation of the Scriptures, one should simply allow the Scriptures to say what they say. It’s a miracle, according to Barth, the way the Bible speaks to its readers. And by our normal course of exegesis, we attempt to limit and contain that divine act of God’s communication. One should not view the Scriptures with suspicion, but with consent. John Webster wrote in his book on Barth’s life and theology that Barth cannot be understood unless we “see how drastically he is revising the task of Christian theology, by trying to depict its job in relation to a Christian way of life.”

    And, finally, Barth defines the third facet of the Word of God as the preaching of the church or church proclamation. And even that does not adequately describe what he meant by the term. Church proclamation, to Barth, is everything that comes out of the church --- not just sermons, but all proclamations. Sunday school lessons, spiritual songs, journal articles, church tracts and pamphlets, children’s stories, and personal testimonies all constitute this third trait of God’s communication to man.
    Again, like the Incarnation and the Scriptures, this area constitutes a place of divine activity. If the church’s preaching, human proclamation, is true to its calling; if it allows the Word of God to be its commission, its theme, and its criterion for proclamation; then it becomes an event of divine speech. There is “divine willing and doing” in the “willing and doing of the proclaimer,” writes Webster, thus making the preaching event a miracle.
    Barth had begun developing this theology as a professor at Gottingen. In 1927, in a lecture delivered to his friends in Bremen, he declared that Christian preaching is a proclamation of the mighty acts of God, not a proclamation of the acts and works of man. Therefore, Barth would not allow that justification or sanctification are works of man but are, combined, the achievement of God’s grace in man. Both are acts of God. In fact, everything we proclaim as faithful witnesses to the revelation are works of God. The proclamation is God communicating His revelation and His saving acts of grace through the church.
    But how is it that the very words of God can be spoken by sinful man? Barth claims that it works much like the sacraments. At communion, the bread remains bread and the wine remains wine, even after the blessing. But the sacraments are used by God to communicate the idea of communion. By the same token, the human words of Christian witnesses are still merely human words, even after much prayer and meditation. But the words, fallible as they are, are used by God to communicate His love in the revelation to mankind.
    To briefly sum up Barth’s three-fold doctrine of the Word of God: it is a communicative act which God Himself undertakes. It is not merely a compilation of truth or a set of statements, but a complex act in which God has spoken, God is speaking, and God will speak. God encounters man through the act of His revelation in Christ (Incarnation), through the confirmation of that act by the prophets and the apostles (Bible), and through the continuing testimony to that act by the Christian community (Proclamation).
    The Word of God, which is present in every act of communication and revelation between God and man, can never be reduced to historical or physical conditions. It is the self-presentation of God and so must remain somewhat of a mystery.
    It is in that way that Karl Barth completely turned, and continues to turn, modern theology upside down. His ideas have weathered storms of criticism, the most severe being stirred by his own contemporaries. Their beliefs were that God’s reality has everything to do with man’s history of understanding and man’s human experiences.
Barth counters by claiming that, if God is Lord, then man is creature and servant. And God as Lord does not permit even the thought that He must appear in our human reality.
    An outspoken critic of Karl Barth, Gordon H. Clark, wrote in 1963 that Barth’s doctrine of the Word of God was immature, obscure, and poorly designed. He claimed that Barth stretched too far in coming up with his three facets of God’s Word in order to relate it more neatly to the Trinity of God. And Clark points out the inconsistent manner in which Barth identifies the revelation with the Father, the scripture with the Son, and the proclamation with the Holy Spirit. Shouldn’t the Incarnation of the revelation be associated with the Son? Clark says Barth forced it.
    When Barth speaks of God’s commissioning preachers to proclaim the Word, Clark asks, does that command give the preacher his message? To Barth’s contention that every church proclamation is the Word of God Clark replies, how? If a preacher proclaims that Jesus was executed by a firing squad or that King David walked on water, how can that be God’s Word? The message must maintain some sense of historical and moral truth to be the Word of God. Clark also charges the theologian with being influenced by his strong bias against the Roman Catholic Church. Barth believes that the written word of the prophets and the apostles are far superior to any words that have been written since. We don’t control the Bible, it controls us. That speaks directly against the church as the ultimate authority. And Clark cites the bias.
    Barth’s critics argued that his theological reading of the New Testament too easily dismissed the consensus regarding historical reconstructions. Theologians were all but unanimous in explaining the original meanings of Biblical texts in light of history and culture. They claimed that Barth was merely a naïve Biblicist who interpreted the New Testament as a Spirit-inspired work. According to most, Barth was abandoning the critical task in order to exegete “timeless ideas that could conveniently support his own theological and dogmatic presuppositions.”
    And Barth fought those criticisms fiercely. It is not that he regarded the Bible as having no history and no authors. It is that he viewed the Scriptures from a different starting point, a different mindset. It is comparing apples to oranges, historical critical analysis to analysis by the Holy Spirit. Barth maintained that one had to fully submit to the texts as a Christian in order to fully comprehend the texts as a student. And in so doing, the Holy Spirit works to interpret for the Christian theologian. Mark I. Wallace explains this in a 1988 article for the Journal of Religion:
For Barth, the storied world of the Bible is not simply one world amidst a plurality of other literary worlds; as the Word of God is written, it is the divinely chosen textual environment within which God in Christ through the Spirit is actively present to the reader today.
   
Barth aimed to unlock the mysteries of the Bible by studying it with a way of thinking and speaking that corresponded to the thinking and speaking displayed in the Scriptures. If he thinks and speaks --- and lives, even --- as the prophets and apostles, in full submission to the Word, only then will its true meaning be made known.
    Karl Barth was a preacher. In fact, it was his dissatisfaction with the popular scholarly thought, and its uselessness in pastoring a congregation, that led to his radical theological breakthrough. After intense study in the early part of his ministry, Barth joyfully concluded that God still speaks through the Bible. In analyzing the impact this would have on Barth and every other theologian since then and up to the present, Colin Brown writes, “This is something quite different from saying that the writers of Scripture had some very remarkable insights into life. The key is in the fact that God continues to reveal himself through these writings.” And preachers of the Word of God then and now owe Barth a debt of gratitude.
    Barth’s theology actually worked to elevate the role of preaching in our churches and in our societies. Christian proclamation becomes much more important when the Scriptures are seen as the truly inspired communication between God and man. The preaching event itself becomes an act of God in Barthian theology; not God and man working together, side by side, to proclaim the good news, but God creating the preacher and controlling the preacher and the Word he preaches.
To Barth, theology is not an intellectual exercise, not a hobby. The study of the Scriptures is life and death. It’s urgent. It’s right now. It touches every aspect of our everyday lives. It is the Word of God to man. And to proclaim that truth is to answer the absolute highest calling.
Barth was the driving force in bringing Jesus Christ back to the very center of our Scriptures and our preaching and our theology and our Christian life. For Barth, Jesus is the central theme of the Bible and should be the focus of our study and our disciplines.
As both God and man, as both human and divine, Christ represents the covenant between God and man, which, in any language, is the Good News.
Before Barth came along, Protestant thought had all but forgotten the living voice of God in Christian proclamation, assuming maybe even a “dead” voice of God in the Scriptures. But he worked to elevate the role of the Bible in Christian life and thought. Because the Word of God is so direct and so personal it tends to create its own hearers. It’s impossible to speak of God or the Word of God without, at the same time, speaking of humanity. God acts through His word. God speaks through His word. According to Barth, God is His word.
    And, finally, Barth’s assertion of the infallibility of the Word of God still rings true today. Using Matthew 5:18 as inspiration (“I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished”) Barth states in his Church Dogmatics,
not even the slightest jot or tittle of Scripture can be destroyed…based on the truth that it has all been spoken by the mouth of the Lord, the Holy Spirit. Every slightest line and stroke of Scripture is due to the minute care of the Spirit and even the slenderest nuance of the writers is not in vain or displayed to us in vain.   
The Bible can be and is regarded by many as just another book. In a highly pluralistic, secular society, and after the last century of critical-historical study of the Scripture, the role of the Bible can no longer be taken for granted in theology. Barth was accused of being naïve and even simple in his approach to theology. But one of the shortest lines he ever penned seems to stand as the most insightful and the most far-reaching, even into the 21st century: “All that is required is a firm resolve that the Bible should be allowed to speak for itself”

KARL BARTH AND THE WORD OF GOD

    Karl Barth’s distinction as arguably the most influential and important theologian of the 20th century has very little to do with the sheer volume of his work, although at over 600 books and articles it is quite impressive. Nor does the label result from some brand new area of theological thought never before contemplated. Rather, it is the timing of his theology, in the aftermath of the Enlightenment and just before the dawn of Modernism, that led to Barth’s impact on the thinking society.
 Barth’s theology was radical in the way it completely opposed the popular thought of the early part of the century. It brought him great criticism from colleagues and peers and even cost him at least one prestigious university position. However, it’s universally accepted that most every American and European theologian during that time and since has labored either to apply and continue Barth’s work or to discredit it. Regardless, they have all been, and will continue to be, influenced by him. Theologian Eberhard Jungel, a student of Barth’s, wrote in 1982,
 Barth’s personal and literary influence profoundly changed the shape of Christian theology across confessional boundaries, significantly altered the direction of the Protestant church, and also left an unmistakable imprint on the politics and cultural life of the 20th century. Barth defied both the enduring and the passing currents of his time, even as he was conditioned by them. His unmistakable genius was a product of the times and their need for renewal, and at the same time it was a force behind the changes that occurred during this century.
   



Ironically, Barth did not consider himself a revolutionary or a church patriarch. He thought himself entirely objective theologically, philosophically, and spiritually. And it was this mindset that allowed him to advance his, at that time, extreme theology.
    Barth’s ideas can best be understood by focusing on the one area that begins and carries and ends seemingly every word that came out of his mouth in lectures or was produced by his pen in books: the three-fold doctrine of the Word of God.
    All Christian theology has always been done in accordance with scripture. Even those theologians and schools of thought that stress tradition or experience have always been kept in check by the scriptures. But, at the turn of the century, the precise role of the Bible in theology had still never been completely identified. That’s the reason Barth’s ideology had, and continues to have, such an impact. His 13 volume, 8,000 page Church Dogmatics, the work with which he’s most closely associated, spelled this out from the start. Barth emphatically declares that the Bible is not a book of man’s thoughts about God and the actions of God, but rather God’s intimate thoughts and actions about and regarding man. According to Barth,
the Bible tells us not how we should talk with God but what he says to us; not how we find the way to him, but how he has sought and found the way to us; not the right relation in which we must place ourselves in him, but the covenant which he has made with all who are Abraham’s spiritual children and which he has sealed once for all in Jesus Christ. It is this which is within the Bible. The word of God is within the Bible.
   
Theology never begins with history, experience, human consciousness, progress, self-awareness, or philosophical speculation. Barth says it begins and ends with the Bible.
   

Barth’s three-fold doctrine of the Holy Scriptures seeks to understand the Bible as the word of God in Trinitarian form: as revealed in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, as written in the scriptures themselves, and as proclaimed in the preaching of the church. And just as neither of the three forms of God can exist separately from the other two, so it is with God’s word. In describing this interrelation, Barth wrote in the initial volume of Church Dogmatics,
The revealed Word of God we know only from the scripture adopted by Church proclamation, or from church proclamation based on Scripture. The written Word of God we know only through the revelation which makes proclamation possible, or through the proclamation made possible by revelation. The proclaimed Word of God we know only by knowing the revelation attested through Scripture, or by knowing the Scripture which attests revelation.
   
Let us first examine the Word of God as revealed in Jesus Christ, which Barth claims to be the primary form of God’s word. That viewpoint naturally agrees with the apostle John who wrote that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God,” John 1:1 and, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,” John 1:14. The Word, God Himself, becoming flesh is the revelation. It’s the singular thought around which all of Barth’s theology revolves and the starting point for all of his teachings. Therefore, all religious talk --- all talk of God, creation, humanity, salvation, glory, the church --- boils down to Jesus Christ. It all draws out of the Incarnation of Christ. It’s repetitious and redundant to speak of these things and of Jesus as separate. While modern theologians are discussing theories of human experience, hermeneutics, and historical analysis of understanding, Barth departs from


this because “his understanding of God as Lord will not permit the thought that human reality is some relatively independent sphere within the terms of which God must appear.”
    God speaks to man through Jesus Christ. He communicates to man, He reveals Himself to man, and He reaches out to man through Christ. For Barth, all of God’s dealings with man are in and through Jesus. Any knowledge we have of God comes through Christ. For “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” John 14:9. And it’s this revelation that lies at the very heart of scripture and the preaching of the church.
    It’s “none of self and all of Thee” thinking. It was intellectual suicide. And it could not have been more different from what every other theologian in the world was practicing.
    The Bible as the actual written scripture is the second tier of Barth’s three-fold doctrine of the Word of God. This thought alone demands almost 300 pages in Church Dogmatics. Like the Incarnation, the Bible is a field of divine activity, an instrument of holy communication. The Bible and its writers are used by God to testify that He has already spoken and already acted. He commissions human words to witness to His revelation activities. And He works through the church’s use of the Scriptures, clearly seen in the way that Bible attitudes and Bible practices characterize God’s people in the church.
    For Barth, the Bible is not the revelation itself. That still goes, and will always go, back to the Incarnation of Jesus. But the Scriptures point directly to that Christ Event and


witness to that Event as it impacted humanity. It’s a collection of human texts by human writers that functions as the bearer of the news of the revelation. And that revelation is at the very center of the Bible. The Old Testament writers look ahead to Christ while the New Testament authors look back. It’s just human words on paper and ink. But it becomes the Word of God in the event of the revelation. John H. Leith, a Professor of Theology at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, wrote of Barth’s teachings in 1976,

The Bible as the forward and backward looking testimony to Jesus Christ sets the boundaries and is the unique authorization for all Christian theology; that is to say, all statements of Christian theology must be justified by reference to canonical Scripture.
   
Of course, Barth acknowledges that the Bible is human speech --- that it was written by specific men at a specific time in a specific place for a specific purpose. But it’s at this point in his theology that he, again, takes a drastic turn away from the dominant thought of his day. Barth claims that Bible readers must be shaped by the divine Word they encounter every time they open the Book. Instead of applying history and culture in one’s interpretation of the Scriptures, one should simply allow the Scriptures to say what they say. It’s a miracle, according to Barth, the way the Bible speaks to its readers. And by our normal course of exegesis, we attempt to limit and contain that divine act of God’s communication. One should not view the Scriptures with suspicion, but with consent. John Webster wrote in his book on Barth’s life and theology that Barth cannot be understood unless we “see how drastically he is revising the task of Christian theology, by trying to depict its job in relation to a Christian way of life.”


    And, finally, Barth defines the third facet of the Word of God as the preaching of the church or church proclamation. And even that does not adequately describe what he meant by the term. Church proclamation, to Barth, is everything that comes out of the church --- not just sermons, but all proclamations. Sunday school lessons, spiritual songs, journal articles, church tracts and pamphlets, children’s stories, and personal testimonies all constitute this third trait of God’s communication to man.
    Again, like the Incarnation and the Scriptures, this area constitutes a place of divine activity. If the church’s preaching, human proclamation, is true to its calling; if it allows the Word of God to be its commission, its theme, and its criterion for proclamation; then it becomes an event of divine speech. There is “divine willing and doing” in the “willing and doing of the proclaimer,” writes Webster, thus making the preaching event a miracle.
    Barth had begun developing this theology as a professor at Gottingen. In 1927, in a lecture delivered to his friends in Bremen, he declared that Christian preaching is a proclamation of the mighty acts of God, not a proclamation of the acts and works of man. Therefore, Barth would not allow that justification or sanctification are works of man but are, combined, the achievement of God’s grace in man. Both are acts of God. In fact, everything we proclaim as faithful witnesses to the revelation are works of God. The proclamation is God communicating His revelation and His saving acts of grace through the church.



    But how is it that the very words of God can be spoken by sinful man? Barth claims that it works much like the sacraments. At communion, the bread remains bread and the wine remains wine, even after the blessing. But the sacraments are used by God to communicate the idea of communion. By the same token, the human words of Christian witnesses are still merely human words, even after much prayer and meditation. But the words, fallible as they are, are used by God to communicate His love in the revelation to mankind.
    To briefly sum up Barth’s three-fold doctrine of the Word of God: it is a communicative act which God Himself undertakes. It is not merely a compilation of truth or a set of statements, but a complex act in which God has spoken, God is speaking, and God will speak. God encounters man through the act of His revelation in Christ (Incarnation), through the confirmation of that act by the prophets and the apostles (Bible), and through the continuing testimony to that act by the Christian community (Proclamation).
    The Word of God, which is present in every act of communication and revelation between God and man, can never be reduced to historical or physical conditions. It is the self-presentation of God and so must remain somewhat of a mystery.
    It is in that way that Karl Barth completely turned, and continues to turn, modern theology upside down. His ideas have weathered storms of criticism, the most severe being stirred by his own contemporaries. Their beliefs were that God’s reality has everything to do with man’s history of understanding and man’s human experiences.


Barth counters by claiming that, if God is Lord, then man is creature and servant. And God as Lord does not permit even the thought that He must appear in our human reality.
    An outspoken critic of Karl Barth, Gordon H. Clark, wrote in 1963 that Barth’s doctrine of the Word of God was immature, obscure, and poorly designed. He claimed that Barth stretched too far in coming up with his three facets of God’s Word in order to relate it more neatly to the Trinity of God. And Clark points out the inconsistent manner in which Barth identifies the revelation with the Father, the scripture with the Son, and the proclamation with the Holy Spirit. Shouldn’t the Incarnation of the revelation be associated with the Son? Clark says Barth forced it.
    When Barth speaks of God’s commissioning preachers to proclaim the Word, Clark asks, does that command give the preacher his message? To Barth’s contention that every church proclamation is the Word of God Clark replies, how? If a preacher proclaims that Jesus was executed by a firing squad or that King David walked on water, how can that be God’s Word? The message must maintain some sense of historical and moral truth to be the Word of God. Clark also charges the theologian with being influenced by his strong bias against the Roman Catholic Church. Barth believes that the written word of the prophets and the apostles are far superior to any words that have been written since. We don’t control the Bible, it controls us. That speaks directly against the church as the ultimate authority. And Clark cites the bias.
    Barth’s critics argued that his theological reading of the New Testament too easily dismissed the consensus regarding historical reconstructions. Theologians were all but unanimous in explaining the original meanings of Biblical texts in light of history and culture. They claimed that Barth was merely a naïve Biblicist who interpreted the New Testament as a Spirit-inspired work. According to most, Barth was abandoning the critical task in order to exegete “timeless ideas that could conveniently support his own theological and dogmatic presuppositions.”
    And Barth fought those criticisms fiercely. It is not that he regarded the Bible as having no history and no authors. It is that he viewed the Scriptures from a different starting point, a different mindset. It is comparing apples to oranges, historical critical analysis to analysis by the Holy Spirit. Barth maintained that one had to fully submit to the texts as a Christian in order to fully comprehend the texts as a student. And in so doing, the Holy Spirit works to interpret for the Christian theologian. Mark I. Wallace explains this in a 1988 article for the Journal of Religion:
For Barth, the storied world of the Bible is not simply one world amidst a plurality of other literary worlds; as the Word of God is written, it is the divinely chosen textual environment within which God in Christ through the Spirit is actively present to the reader today.
   
Barth aimed to unlock the mysteries of the Bible by studying it with a way of thinking and speaking that corresponded to the thinking and speaking displayed in the Scriptures. If he thinks and speaks --- and lives, even --- as the prophets and apostles, in full submission to the Word, only then will its true meaning be made known.
    Karl Barth was a preacher. In fact, it was his dissatisfaction with the popular scholarly thought, and its uselessness in pastoring a congregation, that led to his radical


theological breakthrough. After intense study in the early part of his ministry, Barth joyfully concluded that God still speaks through the Bible. In analyzing the impact this would have on Barth and every other theologian since then and up to the present, Colin Brown writes, “This is something quite different from saying that the writers of Scripture had some very remarkable insights into life. The key is in the fact that God continues to reveal himself through these writings.” And preachers of the Word of God then and now owe Barth a debt of gratitude.
    Barth’s theology actually worked to elevate the role of preaching in our churches and in our societies. Christian proclamation becomes much more important when the Scriptures are seen as the truly inspired communication between God and man. The preaching event itself becomes an act of God in Barthian theology; not God and man working together, side by side, to proclaim the good news, but God creating the preacher and controlling the preacher and the Word he preaches.
To Barth, theology is not an intellectual exercise, not a hobby. The study of the Scriptures is life and death. It’s urgent. It’s right now. It touches every aspect of our everyday lives. It is the Word of God to man. And to proclaim that truth is to answer the absolute highest calling.
Barth was the driving force in bringing Jesus Christ back to the very center of our Scriptures and our preaching and our theology and our Christian life. For Barth, Jesus is the central theme of the Bible and should be the focus of our study and our disciplines.



As both God and man, as both human and divine, Christ represents the covenant between God and man, which, in any language, is the Good News.
Before Barth came along, Protestant thought had all but forgotten the living voice of God in Christian proclamation, assuming maybe even a “dead” voice of God in the Scriptures. But he worked to elevate the role of the Bible in Christian life and thought. Because the Word of God is so direct and so personal it tends to create its own hearers. It’s impossible to speak of God or the Word of God without, at the same time, speaking of humanity. God acts through His word. God speaks through His word. According to Barth, God is His word.
    And, finally, Barth’s assertion of the infallibility of the Word of God still rings true today. Using Matthew 5:18 as inspiration (“I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished”) Barth states in his Church Dogmatics,
not even the slightest jot or tittle of Scripture can be destroyed…based on the truth that it has all been spoken by the mouth of the Lord, the Holy Spirit. Every slightest line and stroke of Scripture is due to the minute care of the Spirit and even the slenderest nuance of the writers is not in vain or displayed to us in vain.
   
The Bible can be and is regarded by many as just another book. In a highly pluralistic, secular society, and after the last century of critical-historical study of the Scripture, the role of the Bible can no longer be taken for granted in theology. Barth was accused of being naïve and even simple in his approach to theology. But one of the


shortest lines he ever penned seems to stand as the most insightful and the most far-reaching, even into the 21st century: “All that is required is a firm resolve that the Bible should be allowed to speak for itself”

Friday, July 15, 2011

MCC Youth leadership training

The youth leadership training was held from 10 July to 15 July at MCC,Yangon.There were 20 persons from different denominations within myanmar participated in that training.As the leaders,Mr.Aung Zaw Htike ,Miss Nway Nway ko and Miss.Yamin Nway,they had arranged verything for the sucess of that training.All participants really and joyfully went back their places with the rich experiences.On behalf of my fellow freinds,I would really like to say thanks those who had taken that responsibilities in these matters.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Exegesis on Psalm 97:1-6.

SERAMPORE COOLEGE;

THEOLOGY DEPARTMENT

Subject : Psalms in Hebrew

Topic : Exegesis on Psalm 97:1-6.

Submitted to : Mrs Laila L.Vijayan

Submitted by : Mr.Sanda Aung

Submitted on : 5th August, 2008.


PSALMS 97:1-6.

Form/Setting/Structure

1.1.Form

This Psalm has a hymnal form[1] and it belongs to the form-critical category of hymns of descriptive praise of Yahweh. Since the work of Gunkel and Mowinkel, this type of psalms have commonly been called the enthronement psalms, celeberating the kingship of Yahweh and frequently associated with the proposed enthronement ceremonies in the pre-exilic Temple in Jerusalem. According to Westernman these Psalms are hymns celebrating Yahweh’s kingship and belongs to the category of descriptive praise psalms[2]

1.2. Structure

Howard proposes that there seems to be a temporal distinction between the continued description of Yahweh in vv.1-3 and the theophany described in vv.4-6.[3] And according to Frank E.Gaebelein, this section of Psalm focuses on the exalted position of Yahweh above the earth and all the other gods and contains many allusion tom other parts of OT, all of which have been shaped into a magnificent hymn. So the structure of this psalm is as follows:

The revelation of Yahweh’s glory (vv.1-6)

a. The coming of the Lord is described (1-3).

b. Its effect upon the earth is declared (4-6)[4].

1.3. Setting

The setting of this psalm is worship for the kingship of Yahweh. This psalm is made of almost entirely of phrases borrowed from other psalms, but put together with great skill and also has hymnist form, setting forth descriptive praise of Yahweh and belong to a group of psalms (Ps 93-100) united in genre and motif[5].

2. Authorship and Date.

Scholars believe that David is not the sole author of the Book of psalms. As in the first book of Samuel hymns are ascribed to David so also at the close of Deuteronomy two psalms are ascribed to Moses. It was this and the occurrence of the name of Moses near the end of Psalm 99 which led to ascription of Psalms 90-99,which have also certain literary kinship with the psalms in Deuteronomy, to Moses. So the author of psalm 97:1-6 was probably Moses.[6]

Howard said that Psalm 97 is likely pre-Exilic, but not too early. So he thought again, it best work with the flowing hypotheses: (1)the dates of origin for psalms 95 and 96-99 as individual Psalms are possibly pre-Exilic, but more probably post-Exilic in their present form; (2)the cult situation of Psalms 93-99 in the Psalter are mostly post-Exilic, so this psalm was composed in pre-Exilic period.[7]

3.Comment/Interpretation and Explanation

3. The revelation of Yahweh’s glory (vv.1-6).

3. A. The coming of the Lord is described (1-3)
Verse 1
.
The Lord reigneth”: This is the watchword of the psalm. It is also the essence of the Gospel’s proclamationand the foundation of the Gospel’s kingdom. Jesus has come, and all power is given unto Him in heaven and earth, therefore men are bidden to yield him their obedient faith, saint draw comfort from these words, and only rebel evil at them.

“Let the earth rejoice”: Other reigns have produced injustice, oppression, bloodshed, terror but the reign of infinitely gracious Jehovah is the hope of humankind, and when they all yield to it the race will have its paradise restored. The very globe itself may well be glad that its maker and liege Lord has come to his own, and the whole race of human beings may also be glad[8].

Let the Multitude of isle glad thereof”: To the ancient Israelites all places beyond the sea were isle, and the phrase is equivalent to the lands which are reached by ship. It is remarkable, however, that upon actual islands some of the greatest victories of the cross have been achieved. Many a land owes its peace to the sea; if it had not been isolated it would have been desolated, and therefore the inhabitants should praise the lord who has given them a defense more available than bars of brass. Jesus deserves to be Lord of isles, and to have his praises sounded along every sea-beaten shore[9].
Verse 2.
“Clouds and darkness are round about him”: When the Lord revealed himself at Sinai, his essential deity was being surrounded by clouds when he showed himself to sons of men less his excessive glory would destroy them. Every revelation of God must also be an obviation; there must be veiling of his infinite splendor if anything is to be seen by finite beings.

Righteousness and judgment are the habitations of his throne”: God’s righteousness, immutable attributes and judgment mark his every act. Whatever he does, though we cannot see or understand, we are sure that he will do no wrong to us. We are always saved in the hands of him who cannot do error or act of unrighteousness.[10]

Verse 3.
A fire goeth before him”: Fire is the very being of God’s power consuming all opposition. Omnipotence is a devouring flame “which burnt up his enemies around about”. Lord is long suffering, but when he comes forth to judgment he will make short work with the unrighteous, they will be like chaff before the flame. Reading this verse in reference to the coming of Jesus, and the descent of the Holy Spirit, we are reminded of the tongues of fire, and of the power which attended the gospel preached in faith, and in the power of the Spirit, which burns it own way, irrestibly destroying falsehood, superstition, unbelief, sin, indifference, and hardness of the heart.[11]

3. B. Its effect upon the earth is declared (4-6)
Verse
4.
“His lightning unlighted the world”
. In time of tempest the whole of nature is lighted up with a lurid glare, even the light of the sun itself seems dim compared with the blaze of lightening. When God draws aside the curtain for a moment, the nation astonished, the light compels them to cover their eyes and bow their heads in solemn awe. Jesus in the gospels lights up the earth with such a blaze of truth and grace as was never seen or even imagined before.[12]

The earth saw, and trembled”. In God’s presence the solid earth quarks, astonished by his glory and convulsed with fear. To the advent of our lord and the setting up of his kingdom among human beings these words are also most applicable; nothing ever caused such a shaking and the commotion as the proclamation of the Gospels, nothing was more majestic than its course, it turned the world upside down, leveled the mountains and filled up the velleys.When the Holy Ghost rested upon his servants their course was like that of a mighty storm, the truth, flashed with the force and speed of thunderbolt, and philosophers and priests, princes and people were utterly confounded, too powerless to withstand it.[13]

Verse 5.
The hill melted like wax at the presence of the lord”: States and kingdoms stand out upon the world like mountains utterly dissolved when God decrees their end. Systems as ancient and firmly-rooted as the hills pass away when he does but looks upon them. The mountains, which are a symbol of stability (cf M.T. 30: 8), melt before the presence of the lord[14].

“At the presence of the lord of the whole earth”: God’s dominion is universal, and his power is everywhere felt. Human beings cannot move the hill, with difficulty do they climb them, with incredible toil do they pierce their way through their fastness, but it is not so with the Lord: his presence makes a clear pathway, obstacles disappear, a highway is made, and that not by his hand as though it cost him pains, but by his mere presence, for power goes forth from him with a word or a glance. Sometimes we doubt the presence of the Lord within, for he is concealed with clouds, but we are again assured that he is within us when his light shines in and fills us with holy fear, while at the same time the warmth of grace often calls us to penitence, resignation and obedience, as wax becomes soft in the presence of fire.[15]

Verse 6.
“The heavens declare his righteousness”: It is the manner of the inspired poets to picture the whole creation as in sympathy with the glory of God, and indeed it is not mere poetry, for a great truth underlines it. The whole creation has been made to groan through human’s sin, and it is yet to share in the joy of his restoration. His righteousness (Ps 33:5) is, apparently, parallel with glory (Ps.19:1), and both may refer to Yahweh’s work of salvation (cf Ps 50:6). [16]

And all the people see his glory”. The glorious Gospel became so well known and widely promulgated, that it seem to be proclaimed by very star, and published by the very skies themselves, therefore all race of human beings became acquainted with it, and were made to see the exceeding glory of the grace of God which is resplendent there in.[17] Yahweh victory will be made manifested not only to the people of Israel, but also to the whole world (Ps66:8).[18]

4. Theological theme

The Lord is represented as a king who has authority to control all the creatures and universal as well as there would be peace, justice among the nations during his reign.

5. Implications for today context

The Lord was presented as a king and the ruler with mighty power. The prince of the world has been cast out by the same Lord. In the scripture the word “earth” probably denotes the land of Israel, unless it is changed in meaning by qualification. For it was to them alone that Christ was promised and to whom He came. Therefore Jews saw these wonders and were struck in their hearts according to Acts 2.[19]

Every saving advent of God in the past and future is summed up in this stylized picture of divine intervention, in which God proves Himself victorious king over evil.[20]So this psalm reminds us that Israel’s hope was God’ reign, who could make peace and justice reign among the nations as well as in our time.

Bibliography

Anderson, A.A.The New Century Bible Commentary Psalm(73-150),vol.II.London:Marshall,Morgan& Scolt Publication.Ltd.,1970

Gaebelein,Frank E.Eds The Expositor’s Bible Comemtary,vol.5, .Machigcan:Zondervan Publish House nd,1991.

Peter,John P. The psalms as Liturgies Being the Paddock Lectures for 1920.New York: Ferris Printing company, 1920.

Ricker ,George Berry.An American Commentary on the Old Testament ;The book of Psalms.Boston:The American Baptist Publication Socity,1934.

Spurgeon, C.H. The treasury of David ,Vol.II.Virginiaa:Thomas Nelson Pusblisher,1993.

.

Luther works, vol.II. First Lectures on the Psalms II.,Edited by Hiton C.Oswld.Missuri:Concordia Publication House,1976.

The “Psalm”. The International Bible commentary.Edited by F.F.Bruce.Michigan:Zondervan Publishing House,1987.



[1] A.A Anderson,The New Century Bible Commentary Psalm(73-150),vol.II(London:Marshall,Morgan& Scolt Publication.Ltd.,1970),687-688.

[2] Frank E.Gaebelein,edsThe expositor’s Bible Comemtary,vol.5, (Machigcan:Zondervan Publish House nd,1991)623.

[3] A.A.Anderson,op.cit.,687.

[4] Frank E.Gaebelein,op.,cit.,623.

[5] .Ibid.,624.

[6] .John P.peter .The psalms as Liturgies Being the Paddock Lectures for 1920(New York: Ferris Printing company, 1920), 11.

[7] George Berry,, Ricker,An American Commentary on the Old Testament ;The book of Psalms(Boston:The American Baptist Publication Socity,1934),634.

[8] C.H.Spurgeon,The treasury of David ,Vol.II(Virginiaa:Thomas Nelson Pusblisher,1993),193.

[9] Ibid.,194.

[10] Ibid., 195.

[11] Ibid., 194.

[12] Ibid.,195.

[13] .Ibid.,195.

[14] A.A Anderson.op.cit,687.

[15]C.H.Spurgeon, op.cit, 196.

[16] A.A Anderson.op.cit, 687.

[17] C.H.Spurgeon, op.cit, 197.

[18] A.A Anderson.op.cit, 687.

[19] Luther works,vol.II, First Lectures on the Psalms II,edited by Hiton C.Oswld(Missuri:Concordia Publication House,1976),265.

[20] .The “Psalms”,The International Bible commentary, edited by F.F.Bruce(Michigan:Zondervan Publishing House,1987),623.