Karl Barth in a Nutshell

Well, a couple of nutshells. Maybe a few. More than ten, sure, but no more than twenty. Not in any particular order.

1. God is who he seems to be. God is in himself just as he reveals himself to be in Jesus Christ. Or in theological terms, the immanent trinity is the same as the economic trinity.

2. Jesus Christ is truly divine and truly human. He is God for us so that we may be for God.

3. The Bible is not a history book or a science journal. It is the witness to the covenant of God promised and fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The gospel is the key that unlocks the Bible’s meaning.

4. This is God’s election – he chose himself in Jesus Christ to be our God and he chose us in Christ to be his people.

5. Religion is about human beings trying to rise above themselves to find God. Grace is about God coming down to find us in Jesus Christ.

6. Jesus Christ is the Judge judged in our place. He has carried our sin and carried it away.

7. We believe the virgin birth and the empty tomb. They are the signs of the incarnation of the Son of God. But we don’t believe “in” them. We believe in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ.

8. God is the one who loves in freedom. His love is free and he is free to love.

9. God is not almighty because he can do whatever he wants. He is almighty because he is even able to reveal his power in the human weakness of the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

10. God the Father is the one who loves, God the Son is the one who is loved, God the Holy Spirit is the love that binds them together.

11. Natural theology is a refusal to accept God as he has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. Natural theology tries to understand God according to our hopes and to understand Jesus Christ according to our needs.

12. At the heart of sin is resistance to God’s grace. We don’t fully understand our sin until we see God’s grace revealed in Jesus Christ.

13. All sin is serious, but when we take Satan and the forces of evil too seriously, we undermine the victory of Christ.

14. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. He applies to us subjectively what Jesus Christ accomplished for us objectively. And so we say that he proceeds from the Father and the Son.

15. Jesus Christ accomplished redemption for all people of all times. The Church, however, is the community where this is lived and proclaimed.

16. The gospel of Jesus Christ summons us to obedience to Jesus Christ. It is the royal law, the law that brings freedom. Our true freedom as human beings is found in this obedience.

17. In the Bible, the divine Word becomes incarnate in the human words of the prophets and apostles. The Word of God in the Bible is the only standard and judge of the truth of theology.

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