Barthisms

I’m going to share some of my favorite lines from Barth as my class works through volumes II/1 and IV/1 of his Church Dogmatics.

Barth once said that John Calvin’s writings were “a waterfall, a primitive forest, a demonic power, something straight down from the Himalayas, absolutely Chinese, strange, mythological; I just don’t have the organs, the suction cups, even to assimilate this phenomenon, let alone to describe it properly.”

Something similar could be said about Barth’s words. How about this?

“Precisely in the knowledge of faith God is and remains a mystery to us by giving Himself to be known by us” (CD II/1, 41).

“He unveils Himself as the One He is by veiling Himself in a form which He Himself is not” (CD II/1, 52).

And my favorite, “We must fear Him above all things because we may love Him above all things” (CD II/1, 33).

If you meditate on these lines, you’ll find that they really do make sense and they are even entirely orthodox (you can’t always say that about Barth). And that last one will really preach.

2 Comments

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  1. Good words. Did you mean “before we may love him” in the last quotation? These are great quotations. I’ll gladly steal them for the benefit of my students.

    Look forward to seeing you at ETS.

  2. Hi Owen:

    Nope, that’s the quote. If you look up why Barth says that it will be one of the devotional highlights of your year (unless you’ve had an exceptionally good year).

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