Karl Barth on Amazement, Humor, and Joy

Here are some helpful quotes by Karl Barth. Hope you enjoy.

On Amazement

“At the beginning of all theological perception, research, and thought – and also of every theological statement – stands a quite specific amazement. Its lack in even the best theologian will threaten the heart of the entire enterprise, while even bad theologians are not a lost cause in their service and their duty, as long as they are still capable of amazement.”
On Humor

“Having a sense of humor means not being stiff but flexible. Humor arises when we have insight into the contradiction between our existence as children of God and as children of this age, and we become conscious of our actions in a lively way. Humor means a great bucketing of the serious side of the present.”
On Joy

“Joy is the rarest and most infrequent thing in the world. We already have enough fanatical seriousness, enthusiasm, and humorless zeal in the world. But joy? This shows us that the perception of the living God is rare. When we have found God our Saviour – or when he has found us – we will rejoice in him…joy is the simplest form of gratitude.”
On Freedom

“It is true that free people will also strive for independence, as far as that makes sense. But free people are not compelled to want independence by every external compulsion.  They can also find all kinds of undesired discipline to be acceptable and pleasing.”
On Easter

“What happened on that day (of Easter) became, was and remained the centre around which everything else moves. For everything lasts its time, but the love of God – which was at work and was expressed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead – lasts forever. Because this event took place, there is no reason to despair, and even when we read the newspaper with all its confusing and frightening news, there is every reason to hope.”

Dead Men Don’t Change People

The resurrection of Christ was the prelude to his ascension. The same Jesus that lived on this earth in bodily form was raised from the grave. This same embodied God-man was taken up into heaven before many eyewitnesses (Acts 1:11). Scripture teaches many things about the current activity of Jesus.

He is alive, well, and  seated at the right hand of God where he rules all things with the Father (Heb 8:1). He prays for us, intercedes on our behalf, sympathizes with our weaknesses, and stands in heaven as our eternal mediator (Heb 4:14-16, Rom 8:34, Heb 9:15).

His heavenly reign consists of executing the new covenant benefits that were secured by his death (Heb 9:15). He labors to build the church for which he died (Matt 16:18). He is at work to extend the kingdom of his Father throughout the earth (1 Cor 15:22-28). He is the sender of the Holy Spirit, who is on his new covenant mission (Acts 2:33-36). He is in constant communication with him to direct and guide his labors (Jn 16:13-15).

He walks among the church and provides for all her needs (Rev 1:20, 2:1, Eph 5:29-31). He protects us from the accusations of Satan in the heavenly courts (Rev 12:10-11). He advocates for us and exists as our righteousness before the Father when we die and face judgment (Rom 8:31-34, Heb 9:27) . He is extremely busy in his service toward us!

Athanasius argued that the present activity of the Lord Jesus Christ was further proof of his mighty resurrection. It is without doubt that Jesus is alive and well. All you have to do is look around at his activity in the world. He is transforming people and gathering his church. Here is a word from Athanasius—a man who rejoiced in the resurrection hundreds of years ago while on this earth and rejoices with the resurrected Christ now.

“He, the Life of all, our Lord and Saviour, did not arrange the manner of his own death lest He should seem to be afraid of some other kind. No. He accepted and bore upon the cross a death inflicted by others, and those other His special enemies, a death which to them was supremely terrible and by no means to be faced; and He did this in order that, by destroying even this death, He might Himself be believed to be the Life, and the power of death be recognised as finally annulled. A marvellous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonour and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death’s defeat…Dead men cannot take effective action; their power of influence on others lasts only till the grave. Deeds and actions that energise others belong only to the living. Well, then, look at the facts in this case. The Saviour is working mightily among men, every day He is invisibly persuading numbers of people all over the world, both within and beyond the Greek-speaking world, to accept His faith and be obedient to His teaching. Can anyone, in face of this, still doubt that He has risen and lives, or rather that He is Himself the Life? Does a dead man move the consciences of men…?”