Barth on the making and is-ness of the Christian

Recent weeks have seen me, from time to time, dipping into CD IV/4, and that for no other reason than for the sheer joy of reading Barth. Here’s one passage that I meditated on for some time:

‘The freedom of God in which is grounded man’s becoming free to be faithful to God as God is faithful to him, the freedom in which the Christian life thus has its absolutely unique origin, is the freedom of which He, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has made use in supreme majesty and condescension in the history of Jesus Christ. This history is the change, impossible with men but possible with God, and indeed possible only by God’s actual judgment, in which a man becomes God’s friend instead of His enemy, a man who lives for Him instead of being dead for Him. It is the divine change which has been made for every man and which is valid for every man, but which is thankfully acknowledged, recognised and confessed by Christians. It is so as Jesus Christ is the One elected from eternity to be the Head and Saviour of all men, who in time responded to God’s faithfulness with human faithfulness as the Representative of all men. As and because He was this, as and because, in the name and stead of all, He was born and suffered and died as the Man of God, as and because He was manifested for all in His resurrection as the One who did this for all, the change which took place in His history took place for all. In it the turning of all from unfaithfulness to faithfulness took place. In this history of His the Christian life became an event as the life of all. A Christian, however, is a man from whom it is not hidden that his own history took place along with the history of Jesus Christ. As a word spoken to him and received by him in the living power of the Holy Spirit, this has been disclosed to him as the decisive event which establishes his existence as a Christian. He himself in the midst of all other men can see himself as one of those for whom and in whose place Jesus Christ did what He did. The Christian is a man whose life Jesus Christ has entered as the subject of that history of His. He is a man whose acknowledged, recognised and confessed Lord He has become. He is a man to whom Jesus Christ has given not just a potential but an actual share in that history of His. Thus Jesus Christ, His history, became and is the foundation of Christian existence; this and this alone. The Christian comes from Him, from His history, from knowledge of it; he also looks back thereto. This is the ground on which he stands and walks. This is the air which he breathes. This is the word which he has in his ears before, above and after all other words. This is the light, the one light, the incomparably bright light, which illumines him’. – Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV.4 (ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley and Thomas F. Torrance; trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1969), 13­–14.


  1. Jason,

    Indeed reading Barth is always an interesting ride, he was one of a kind certainly. Though one must not become too intoxicated, Barth is not infallible. I have been reading some of Barth’s book on Anselm: Fides Quarens Intellectum. One of his more important books and reads, I believe.


  2. and I have been reading about inclusive language this week…and yep…He is good…but I didn’t feel very included! Being a woman and all!


  3. I guess he did write it in 1969….I am glad I havn’t let this language get in the way of hearing the spiritual language going on here. well not too much!


  4. I can see why you find joy in reading Barth Jason. He can certainly construct a sentence. And he has great subject matter!


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