Karl Barth, CD IV/1: Revelation, Atonement, and the Divine Nature

This video is a deep dive into a passage from Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics IV/1, pp. 185-6. I read an extended quote and then discuss a few insights we might learn from it. The subjects include what it means for God to be God, the possibility of revelation, and the doctrine of atonement. If this type of video is helpful, I will possibly do more deep dives like this into other sections of CD or other texts.

Here’s the full quote I read if you want to follow along:

God gives Himself, but He does not give Himself away. He does not give up being God in becoming a creature, in becoming man. He does not cease to be God. He does not come into conflict with Himself. He does not sin when in unity with the man Jesus He mingles with sinners and takes their place. And when He dies in His unity with this man, death does not gain any power over Him. He exists as God in the righteousness and the life, the obedience and the resurrection of this man. He makes His own the being of man in contradiction against Him [God], but He does not make common cause with it. He also makes His own the being of man under the curse of this contradiction, but in order to do away with it as He suffers it. He acts as Lord over this contradiction even as He subjects Himself to it. He frees the creature in becoming a creature. He overcomes the flesh in becoming flesh. He reconciles the world with Himself as He is in Christ. He is not untrue to Himself but true to Himself in this condescension, in this way into the far country. If it were otherwise, if in it He set Himself in contradiction with Himself, how could He reconcile the world with Himself? […] 

What [God] is and does He is and does in full unity with Himself. It is in full unity with Himself that He is also—and especially and above all—in Christ, that He becomes a creature, man, flesh, that He enters into our being in contradiction, that He takes upon Himself its consequences. If we think that this is impossible it is because our concept of God is too narrow, too arbitrary, too human—far too human. Who God is and what it is to be divine is something we have to learn where God has revealed Himself and His nature, the essence of the divine. And if He has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ as the God who does this, it is not for us to be wiser than He and to say that it is in contradiction with the divine essence. We have to be ready to be taught by Him that we have been too small and perverted in our thinking about Him within the framework of a false idea of God. It is not for us to speak of a contradiction and rift in the being of God, but to learn to correct our notions of the being of God, to reconstitute them in the light of the fact that He does this. 

Church Dogmatics IV/1, 185-6. Ed. by G. W. Bromiley and T. F. Torrance. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2010.

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