A Word to the Wise: Jesus loves me, this I know

By: Tom Rupp, Special to the Telegraph
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To most people, the name Karl Barth means nothing. Christians who study theology, however, will recognize that name as someone who James Bierly in his book, “Thinking About Christian Apologetics,” calls “the most influential theologian of the twentieth century.” Barth’s lifespan went from 1886 until 1968. What he is most famous for is his magnum opus, a 13-volume set titled “Church Dogmatics.” Many ministers from 1932 until 1967, and thereafter, read these books with anticipation. I am not one of them, mostly because the task seems too daunting. You can get some of the set free online. If I ever tackle anything, it would be Carl F. H. Henry’s “God, Revelation and Authority.” It is only six volumes but the subject is just as personally interesting — and heavy. Anyway, back to Barth. He visited America once and made the cover of Time magazine around that same time. He said, “The gospel is not a truth among other truths; rather, it sets a question mark against all truths.” When asked during his American visit by a reporter how he would sum up the volumes of words he had published, he replied, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Many of us heard that song as children. It has never lost its relevance even as we became adults. Calvin Miller wrote an entire book based on the words of this well-loved hymn. He states, “This simple song calms me, strips off my threats and drains my stress into reservoirs of God’s serenity.” A minister named Earl Palmer expressed it in a way that many of us can relate when he said, “If I dismiss Him as an idea, He haunts me as a man. If I dismiss Him as a man, He haunts me as an idea.” Sometimes as we become adults we make things much more difficult that they need be. We have lost something of the simplicity and naïveté of childhood. Perhaps this is why Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” And that is why this past Sunday we sang this old song again. In doing so we hopefully became a little more like little children, innocent, free, yes naïve even. We became simple enough to believe God at His Word. Reach Tom Rupp at