The Best of #Barth21 – My Favorite Quotes from CD II/1 (Karl Barth)

karl_barth_church_dogmaticsOver the last month I’ve been reading Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics volume II/1 and posting quotes with the hashtag #Barth21 on my Facebook and Twitter pages. I did this once before over the summer when I read Barth’s Epistle to the Romans (you can find the wrap up here). I hope everyone who follows me on social media enjoyed reading these short quotes from Barth’s brilliant volume.

Today as a wrap up I’ll share some of my favorite quotes from this volume. Enjoy! (Direct quotes are in quotations, personal reflections are indicated.)


“Here [in CD II/1] we have the basis upon which the whole of Barth’s teaching rests…” [Editors Preface]

“We can only understand how God is knowable from the way He actually gives Himself to be known.” [Editors Preface]

“The self-knowledge of God is the real and primary essence of all knowledge of God.”

“God never ceases to make continual new beginnings with men [and women].”

Lead us not into temptation…


“The being of God is either known by grace or it is not known at all.”

The knowledge of God—theology—cannot take place in a vacuum. To know God is to be related to God in obedience and love. [My own personal reflections while reading, #reflections]

“God is known through God and through God alone.”

“When God speaks about Himself, He speaks about the fact that He is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

“God knows Himself… This is the essence and strength of our knowledge of God.”

“Our knowledge of God is derived and secondary. It is effected by grace…”

“It is by the grace of God that God is knowable to us.”

In natural theology “we are not dealing with God but at bottom with ourselves.”

Redemption “means that Jesus Christ is coming again. It means the resurrection of the flesh. It means eternal life…”

“None of the writings of Anselm are ‘apologetic’ in the modern sense of the concept.”

You know you’ve been reading a lot of Karl Barth when a single paragraph is five pages long and that doesn’t surprise you! [#Reflections]

“Man[kind] exists in Jesus Christ and in Him alone, as he also finds God in Jesus Christ and in Him alone.”

“Jesus is the knowability of God on our side…He is the grace of God…and therefore also the knowability of God on God’s side.”

“Our enmity, the enmity in which man as such stands against grace, is expiated and abandoned before God by God Himself.”

“The enmity of man against God is annulled, done away, obliterated.”

“In Jesus Christ God has taken man[kind]’s affairs out of his hands and made them His own affair.”

Christian theology “is wholly and utterly the prisoner of its own theme, namely, the Word of God spoken in Jesus Christ”



What is the hiddenness of God?


God cannot be spiritually appropriated…


The hiddenness of God “affirms that our cognizance of God does not begin in ourselves.”

“At best, our theology is theologia viatorum [theology ‘on the way’].”

“The Gospel rightly seen and understood is always the victorious Gospel.”

“God is who He is in His works.”

“Subject, predicate and object; the revealer, the act of revelation, the revealed; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

“God exists in His act. God is His own decision. God lives from and by Himself.”

“God is He who, without having to do so, seeks and creates fellowship between Himself and us.”

“[God] does not will to be without us, and He does not will that we should be without Him.”

“God does not exist in solitude but in fellowship.”

“Loving us, God does not give us something, but Himself; and giving us Himself, giving us His Son, He gives us everything.”

“The kingdom of God is not an independent reality… This kingdom cannot in any sense be separated from its King.”

“[God] loves us and the world as He who would still be One who loves without us and without the world.”

“God’s being as He who lives and loves is being in freedom.”

“We cannot get behind God—behind God in His revelation [Jesus Christ]—to try and determine from outside what He is.”

“The fundamental error of the whole earlier doctrine of God is reflected in this arrangement: first God’s being in general, then His Triune nature.”

“Grace is the very essence of the being of God.”

“The impassibility of God cannot in any case mean that it is impossible for Him to feel compassion.”

“God cannot be compared to anyone or anything. He is only like Himself.”

“God’s love is divine as the love which is free.”

“God is simple. …[which means] in all that He is and does, He is wholly and undividedly Himself.”

For Barth, God’s omnipresence doesn’t mean metaphysical “eternity”, but God’s triunity, God’s freedom to be present to another. [#Reflections]

“God can be present to another. This is His freedom. For He is present to Himself.”

“There is nowhere where God is not, but He is not nowhere. …He is always somewhere—seeking man[kind] and there to be sought.”

“There is no non-presence of God in His creation.”

“God is constant.”

“[God’s true] immutability includes rather than excludes life. In a word it is life.”

Because “immutability” often implies an immobile state of death, a state incongruent with the living God, Barth thinks “constancy” is a far better term whenever speaking of God’s being in freedom. [#Reflections]

“By God the world exists in God.”

“In the investigation and knowledge of the constant will and being of God we cannot go behind Jesus Christ.”

“God is ‘immutably’ the One whose reality is seen in His condescension in Jesus Christ… He is not a God who is what He is in a majesty behind this condescension, behind the cross on Golgotha.”

Divine omnipotence ≠ divine omnicausality. [#Reflections]

“God’s love for us does not simply mean that He knows us; it means also that He chooses us.”

“God is His own will, and He wills His own being.”

“Pelagianism and fatalism are alike heathen atavisms in a Christian doctrine of God.”

From the standpoint of the incarnation “we cannot understand God’s eternity as pure timelessness.”

“God is pre-temporal. God is supra-temporal. God is post-temporal.”

God “is in Himself, and therefore to everything outside Himself, relationship, the basis and prototype of all relationship.”

“God is the One who seeks and finds fellowship.”

“God is glorious in such a way that He radiates joy.”

“We can confidently say that [theology] is the most beautiful of all the sciences.”

“The theologian who has no joy in his work is not a theologian at all. Sulky faces, morose thoughts and boring ways of speaking are intolerable in this science.”

“If we deny [the Trinity], we have a God without radiance and without joy (and without humour!); a God without beauty.”

“To believe in Jesus Christ means to become thankful.”

“God gives Himself to the creature. This is His glory revealed in Jesus Christ, and this is therefore the sum of the whole doctrine of God.”

I enjoyed posting these quotes and engaging with readers along the way as I read Barth’s classic volume II/1 from the Church Dogmatics. Thanks everyone for reading, retweeting, and liking these posts!

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