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The Bible in One Hand and the Newspaper in the Other

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God. Therefore, anyone who resists authority resists what God has appointed.

Romans 13.1-2

Do not now or ever check your brain at the door.

Amalia 1.1

The late German theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) exhorted Christians to live with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. He invited people to evaluate major news stories by the Bible rather than vice a versa.

His was a tumultuous time in world history, the rise of Nazi Germany. In 1934, he

authored the Barmen Confession in which he and others declared that the gospel of Jesus Christ should have influence over the Nazi party rather than the party influencing the work of the German Church. It is said that he personally mailed a copy of the declaration to Hitler. As a result, he was forced to resign his position as Professor of Theology at the University of Bonn. In 1935 he refused to sign an Oath of Loyalty to Adolph Hitler and was forced to leave Germany.

This week has brought this Giant of the Church to mind as several streams have


The FBI executed a search warrant on former President Trump’s residence last week. The former vice President opined that such an act had never happened before. Well, duh. In Cincinnati and Phoenix, armed protesters, including one who tried to enter the building and later was killed after a shoot out, have demanded the FBI be defunded, and in some cases, put a bounty on FBI agents. Senator Rand Paul, always the helpful one, wondered, since the investigation involved the Espionage Act, if maybe we should just repeal the law.

As if on cue, Salmon Rushdie was attacked while speaking in New York. You may

remember him as the author of the novel Satanic Verses, critical of Islam. This work

garnered a fatwa against him in 1988. Thirty-four years later, he was attacked by a

Muslim, not even alive then.

Am I the only person who sees frightening parallels in these events? Blind obedience is

just that—blind.

Barth’s advice is more on point today than ever. We are to interpret world events in

light of Scripture rather than vice a versa. I used to struggle with Paul’s writing in

Romans, until now. There is authority in our society. It is called the rule of law. Citing

“witch hunt.” “deep state,” or “fake news” does not change that fact.

It does, however, gin up those who have checked their brains at the door. We are in

uncharted water. How should our Christian faith invite us to respond to current events?

The Apostle Paul, in I Timothy 3 provides the qualifications for leadership in the

Christian community. One should be “sensible, respectable, hospitable, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” They must be “serious, not double-tongued.” Do we deserve anything less in our leadership?

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