hearing & receiving

If he keeps writing like this, I will no longer be able to simply listen and process at a safe distance... I'd better immerse myself in some other bits of Barth that will alienate me and thereby protect me from genuine affection, allowing me to preserve my pretense of neutrality. Barth, CD I/2, p. 590

...in what I hear as the confession of the Church, I will certainly have to reckon with the possibility of falsehood and error. I cannot safely hear the voice of the Church without also hearing the infallible Word of God Himself. Yet this thought will not be my first thought about the Church and its confession, but a necessarily inserted corrective. My first thought in this respect can and must be a thought of trust and respect which I cannot perhaps have for the men as such who constitute the Church, but which I cannot refuse to the Word of God by which it lives and Jesus Christ [who] rules it. How can I know Jesus Christ as the Lord who has called me by His Word if in relation to the rest of the Church I do not start from the thought that despite and in all the sin of the men who constitute it it too has been called and ruled by the same Word? Because my sins are forgiven me, I am bold to believe and, in spite of the sin of which I am conscious, to confess my faith as created in me by the Word of Christ. And if this is the case then in relation to the rest of the Church and its confession I cannot possibly begin with mistrust and rejection, just as in relation to our parents, no matter who they are or what they are like, we do not begin with mistrust and rejection or with the assertion that we must obey God rather than man, but with trust and respect and therefore, in the limits appointed to them as men, with obedience. As in and with the confession of the Church I hear the infallible Word of God, I have to reckon first and above all with the lordship of Jesus Christ in His Church and the forgiveness of sins, which is operative in the Church; not with sin and therefore with the possibility of falsehood and error which it involves. And this means that I have not primarily to criticise the confession of the Church as it confronts me as the confession of those who were before me in the Church and are with me in the Church. There will always be time and occasion for criticism. My first duty is to love and respect it as the witness of my fathers and brethren... This is how the authority of the Church arises. It always arises in this way, that in the community of hearing and receiving the Word of God which constitutes the Church, there is this superiority of the confession of some before others, this honour and love, this hearing of the confession of some before others, before the latter go on to make their own confession. Before both and therefore above both is the Lord of the Church with His Word. Only under His Word can some confess and others hear their confession before they confess themselves. But under His Word there does arise this priority and superiority of some over others, the necessity that in the Church we should listen to other men before we go on to speak. Under His Word there is, therefore, a genuine authority of the Church.