Karl Barth Quotes: Evangelical Theology

barth_1_3Quotes taken from "Evangelical Theology: An Introduction" by Karl Barth.  "...Evangelical theology is an eminently critical science, for it is continually exposed to judgment and never relieved of the crisis in which it is placed by its object, or, rather to say, by its living subject."

"Evangelical theology is concerned with Immanuel, God with us! Having this God for its object, it can be nothing else but the most thankful and happy science!" 

"Theology itself is a word, a human response; yet what makes it theology is not its own word or response but the Word which it hears and to which it responds. Theology stands and falls with the Word of God, for the Word of God precedes all theological words by creating, arousing, and challenging them." 

"Theology responds to the Word which God has spoken, still speaks, and will speak again in the history of Jesus Christ which fulfills the history of Israel. To reverse the statement, theology responds to that Word spoken in the history of Israel which reaches its culmination in the history of Jesus Christ."

"He is neither a president of a seminary, nor the Chairman of the Board of some Christian Institute of Advanced Theological Studies, who might claim some authority over the prophets and apostles. He cannot grant or refuse them a hearing as though they were colleagues on the faculty. Still less is he a high-school teacher authorized to look over their shoulder benevolently or crossly, to correct their notebooks, or to give them good, average, or bad marks. Even the smallest, strangest, simplest, or obscurest among the biblical witnesses has an incomparable advantage over even the most pious, scholarly, and sagacious latter-day theologian."

"A community that is awake and conscious of its commission and task in the world will of necessity be a theologically interested community."

"To become and be a theologian is not a natural process but an incomparably concrete fact of grace." 

"Lastly, the theologian may not be more agitated by the godlessness of the children of this world than by the sun of righteousness which has already arisen upon them as well as upon himself."

"The theologian can only have God for himself when he has him continually against himself. And only when he reconciles himself to this can he, for his part, also desire to be for God."

"The first and basic act of theological work is prayer. Prayer must, therefore, be the keynote of all that remains to be discussed."

"It is a fact that this work can be and is done with vigor only when it is done not in some sort of rearmament over against its object but in the undaunted disarmament and capitulation to its object-that is to say, in the work of prayer."

"Theological work can be done only in the indissoluble unity of prayer and study. Prayer without study would be empty. Study without prayer would be blind."

"Church proclamation can suffer at one point from all too excessive many-sidedness and unhealthy overextension; at another point, from equally unhealthy one-sidedness and narrowness in its subject matter. Here it may suffer from liberal softening and distraction; there, from confessionalistic and, perhaps also, biblicistic or liturgical ossification and constriction. Against one threat or the other, and as a rule against both simultaneously, theology will admonish Church proclamation to concentration and openness."

"We now venture the statement that theological work is a good work when it is permitted to be done in love. It is a good work only there (but nevertheless there with certainty) where it is resolutely done in love."