45 Quotes From Evangelical Theology (Part 1)

A few weeks ago, I finished Karl Barth’s Evangelical Theology: An Introduction. The irony of  “Introduction” in the title is that these lectures, put into a written format, were presented towards the end of his life while on a tour of the United States. Considered to be the book to start with when tackling the works of Barth, Evangelical Theology is an “easy read” from his other writings (this is my second completed Barth book). While this collection of lectures is still profound, it gives the avid theological learner the tools needed to find joy and vigor in studying the Word of God. The following is a collection of quotes I have gathered form Barth’s writings that found of help in my own personal study. Chapters and page numbers are included with each quote.

Since I have narrowed my markings down to 45 quotes, I have broken this post into two parts (Click here for Part 2). Enjoy, contemplate, reflect, and maybe even purchase this wonderful introduction to the writings of one of greatest theologians.

“Many other theologies may be concerned with such exalted, superhuman, and inhuman gods, who can only be the gods of every sort of bad news, […] But the God who is the object of evangelical theology is just as lowly as he is exalted. He is exalted precisely in his lowliness. And so his inevitable No is enclosed in his primary Yes to man. (11)

“Since it is ‘evangelical,’ it can by no means be devoted to an inhuman God, for, in that case, it would become legalistic theology. 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! (12)

The Place of Theology
The Word
“The Word of God is Gospel, that is, the good word because it declares God’s good work.” (19)

“No theology only, but among other service rendered in the church, theology specifically is committed to offer ‘reasonable service’ to God.” (25)

The Community
“Since the Christian life is consciously or unconsciously also a witness, the question of truth concerns not only the community but the individual Christian. He too is responsible for the quest for truth in this witness. Therefore, every Christian as such is also called to be a theologian.” (40)

“A community that is awake and conscious of its commission and task in the world will of necessity be a theologically interested community.” (41)

“[I]n order to serve the community of today, theology itself must be rooted in the community of yesterday.” (42)

“The precise task of theology, however, is credo it intelligam, ‘I believe in order to understand’.” (44)

The Spirit
“Theology is science seeking the knowledge of the Word of God spoken in God’s work – science learning in the school of Holy Scripture, which witnesses to the Word of God; science labor intensive in the quest for truth, which is inescapably required of the community that is called by the Word of God.” (49)

“Only in the realm of the power of the Spirit can theology be realized as a humble, free, critical, and happy science of the God of the Gospel. Only in the courageous confidence that the Spirit is the truth does theology pose and answer the question about truth.” (55)

Theological Existence
“‘Wonderment’ arises from ‘wonder.’ Whoever begins to concern himself with theology also begins to concern himself from first to last with wonders. Wonders are the occurrence, presence, and activity of what is basically and definitively incompatible and unassimilated to the norm of common experience.” (65-66)

“The astonishment of the individual carries with it the fact that no one can become and remain a theologian unless he is compelled again and again to be astonished at himself.” (71)

“To become and be a theologian is not a natural process but an incomparably concrete fact of grace [..] As the recipient of grace, a man can only become active in gratitude. If anyone supposed he could understand himself as such a receiver of grace, he would do better to bid theology farewell and devote himself to some other sort of activity.” (73)

“[The] Word concerns mankind in all times and places, the theologian in his own time and place, and the world in its occupation with the routine problems of the everyday. […] While the theologian reads the newspaper, he cannot forget that he has just read Isaiah 40 or John 1 or Romans 8.” (78)

“[T]he man encountered by the Word cannot ignore the fact that, along with all time, his present time moves toward a goal where all that is now hidden will be revealed.” (78-79)

“‘How are things with your heart?” It is a question very properly address to every young and old theologian!” (83)

“Commitment begins with the theologian’s wonder and is directly related to his concern.” It comprehends, indeed his whole existence.” (85)

“To be faithful to the Word of God and the scriptural testimony witnessing to that Word, the theologian must visualize, consider, and speak of both aspects, the light as well as the shadow.” (93)

“In the first lecture, we called theology a happy science. Why are there so many really woeful theologians who go around with faces that are eternally troubled or even embittered, always in a rush to bring forward their critical reservations and negations? […] A theologian May and should be a pleased or satisfied man,” (94)

“The theologian finds satisfaction when his knowledge, the intellectus fidei, is directed by the thrust conveyed to him by the object of his science. In this way, he becomes and remains a satisfied and pleased man who also spreads satisfaction and pleasure throughout the community and world.” (95)

“[W]e must meditate on the free Spirit as the mystery of the Word of God which was heard and attested to by the prophets and apostles and which founds, sustains, and rules the community. […] We must renounce any systematic control, and point simply to an event which takes place in divine and human freedom.” (97)

“Christian faith occurs in the encounter of the believer with him in whom he believes. It consists in communion, not in the identification, with him.” (99)

“Faith is the special event that is constitutive for both Christian and theological existence. Faith is the event by which the wonderment, concern, and commitment that make the theologian a theologian are distinguished from all other occurrences which, in their own way, might be noteworthy and memorable or might be given the same designation.” (100)


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