Karl Barth on Faith

Karl Barth, The Knowledge of God and the Service of God According to the Teaching of the Reformation: The Gifford Lectures Delivered in 1937 and 1938 (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2005): 105-6.
If faith is the life of the man who faces Christ as the one from Whom alone he receives his salvation, then it is easy to understand that the man who loves in faith, when he is confronted by the faithfulness of God, sees himself convicted of his own unfaithfulness…Such a man will see that he is in no position to have faith in himself, or to ascribe to himself a capacity or power by means of which he himself could somehow bring about his salvation, or co-operate in bringing it about. What proceeds from himself the man who believes can only consider as the sin which is forgiven him. If he were to any extent to rely on himself too, as well as on Jesus Christ, he would to that extent fall back into sin, and deny the completeness of the salvation received through Jesus Christ and thus the glory of Jesus Christ as the only Saviour. But if he cannot rely on himself, he cannot rely on his own faith as a work, to accomplish which he possesses the organs and the capabilities in himself. That man is more or less religiously inclined – if it is true – may well be a good thing. But the man who really has faith will never consider his faith as a realisation or manifestation of his religious life, but will on the contrary admit that his capacity for religion would in itself have led him to the gods and idols, but by no means to Jesus Christ. The man who really has faith knows the truth…that it is impossible for him by his own efforts to have faith. It is only those who do not possess faith, who always imagine that faith is a human potentiality, which they will probably say happens to have been denied them personally. And the would-be-possessors of faith also…who see in their own faith the realisation of a human potentiality, are really not possessed of faith. Faith is not an art, not is it an achievement. Faith is not a good work of which some may boast, while others with a shrug of their shoulders can excuse themselves by saying that they have not the capacity for it. With faith itself comes the conclusive insight, that no one has the capacity for faith by his own effort, that is either the capacity to prepare for faith or to start it, or to persevere in it, or to perfect it.
Bold is mine.



phillip said…
Also available from the Internet Archive for free, reads great on the Kindle.
David Baruch said…
Just read 2.1 and this quote summed up nicely what I think I grabbed from his definition of faith in the Limits of the Knowledge of God.

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