Essay / Theology

Some Sound Bites from Barth

Karl Barth wrote some sentences that run on for about a half-page, circle around their main idea without ever quite stating it, and keep readers on the edge of their seats with a sense of dramatic suspense and tension.

But he also wrote quotable bits.

Here are some I noticed during a recent re-read of the last published portion of his Church Dogmatics, volume IV part 4.

“A Christian is a man from whom it is not hidden that his own history took place along with the history of Jesus Christ.” IV/4, 13

“Christmas day is the birthday of every Christian.” IV/4, 15

“The work of the Holy Spirit does not entail the paralyzing or dismissal or absence of the human spirit, mind, knowledge and will. It has often been depicted thus. But the attempt to sacrifice the human intellect and will is also an enterprise of the human spirit, and this sacrifice is not well-pleasing to God.” IV/4, 28

“There is no more intimate friend of sound human understanding than the Holy Spirit.” IV/4, 28

“The ministry of witness forms the meaning and scope of the whole of the Christian life.” IV/4, 30

“Jesus Christ Himself, and He alone, makes a man a Christian. He Himself is the divine change in this man’s life.” IV/4, 33

“When the good news of God’s rectifying righteousness, and consequently of the remission of sins, proves true, then nothing remains for man but the astonished joy of faith.” IV/4, 57

“One does not admit that God is right by fleeing from His wrath. On the contrary, one admits that He is right only by accepting His wrath because it is justifiable.” IV/4, 57

“Baptism responds to a mystery, the sacrament of the history of Jesus Christ, of His resurrection, of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is not itself, however, a mystery or sacrament.” IV/4, 102

“Obedient freedom is also free obedience.” IV/4, 107

“Is perfectionism really our greatest worry today?” IV/4, 193

“It is obvious that an expectation which is idle, passive and inactive cannot possibly be expectation of Jesus Christ and His action.” IV/4, 207-8

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