Karl Heim on guilt, the absolute evil

‘Guilt alone is the absolute evil, the absolutely terrible and unbearable, the simply irrevocable loss. Compared to guilt all else that may be terrible in the world is very slight indeed. If one weighs guilt against all other suffering in the world, unhappy love which makes life a hell, life-long hard labour in the mines of Siberia, continuous suffering from cancer without any hope but the prospect of a painful death, softening of the brain leading to madness, epilepsy with increasing stupefaction – the guilt will easily outweigh all the other evils in the scale. And if on the other hand we think of all that the world offers by way of good things, then all the riches, power and happiness of the world cannot balance and replace the damage caused by one guilty act’. – Karl Heim, Jesus the World’s Perfector: The Atonement and the Renewal of the World (trans. D.H. van Daalen; Edinburgh/London: Oliver and Boyd, 1959), 15.


  1. Well, if you asked me, what’s worse: guilt or leprosy? I’d go with leprosy in a heartbeat, unless we are presuming that guilt = eternal damnation (then the question would be, what’s worse: eternal damnation or leprosy?).

    In a way, leprosy (or any other physical evil) is felt as a condemnation and abandonment from God, and as such the sufferer feels guilt — or, better yet, knows of his guilt as one abandoned to evil, as we all are. This is why the comfortable, middle/upper class Westerner does not recognize that he is guilty and in need of Christ. Converting Denmark would be the hardest thing in the world.


  2. an interesting idea that guilt is an evil being which is deceptive as it leads us to believe we need to self judge our sins and to be eternally on earth obsessing over a deed or a word spoken to another .
    If we allow Christ to be our judge He will fill us with the desire and the opportunity to compensate —the burden of guilt which keeps us captive and “frozen” will be transformed into living deed .
    I like to hand my daily works on earth to Christ so that during sleep He can show me how to make amends for any sin and He can show me how He wants me to make use of my good


Comments welcome here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.