71 Karl Barth Quotes From The Swiss Calvinist Theologian

Karl Barth a famous Swiss theologian greatly influenced Protestant theology and was instrumental in the German Confessing Church’s resistance against the Third Reich.

Barth had a rebellious childhood but followed his father’s path in studying theology eventually serving as a pastor in Geneva and Safenwil and later as a professor in Germany.

He was opposed to National Socialism contributing to the Barmen Declaration against Nazi ideology.

Karl Barth

Barth returned to Switzerland after losing his position in Bonn for refusing allegiance to Hitler.

In his later years he advocated for German reconciliation opposed the nuclear arms race and met with Martin Luther King Jr. during a U.S. visit in 1962.

Barth’s theological legacy continues to be respected and studied today.

Here is a top collection of quotes by Karl Barth for you to enjoy.

Best Karl Barth Quotes


Humor is the opposite of all self-admiration and self-praise. ~ Karl Barth.

Humanity in its basic form is co-humanity. ~ Karl Barth.

I haven’t even read everything I wrote. ~ Karl Barth.

To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world. ~ Karl Barth.

Our thesis is that God’s eternal will is the election of Jesus Christ. ~ Karl Barth.

In the Church of Jesus Christ there can and should be no non-theologians. ~ Karl Barth.

The Devil may also make use of morality. ~ Karl Barth.

Joy is the simplest form of gratitude. ~ Karl Barth.

The gospel is not a truth among other truths. Rather, it sets a question mark against all truths. ~ Karl Barth.

A being is free only when it can determine and limit its activity. ~ Karl Barth.

Mozart’s music is an invitation to the listener to venture just a little out of the sense of his own subjectivity. ~ Karl Barth.

The statement that ‘God is dead’ comes from Nietzsche and has recently been trumpeted abroad by some German and American theologians. But the good Lord has not died of this; He who dwells in the heaven laughs at them. ~ Karl Barth.

Jesus Christ, as he is attested to us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God whom we have to hear, and whom we have to trust and obey in life and in death. ~ Karl Barth.

God listens to Bach while the angels listen to Mozart. ~ Karl Barth.

Top Karl Barth Quotes

To be a Christian and to pray are one and the same thing; it is a matter that cannot be left to our caprice. It is a need, a kind of breathing necessary to life. ~ Karl Barth.

Exegesis, exegesis, and yet more exegesis! ~ Karl Barth.

We must hold the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.

For the millions that suffer unjustly, the Confessing Church does not yet have a heart. ~ Karl Barth.

The term ‘laity’ is one of the worst in the vocabulary of religion and ought to be banished from the Christian conversation. ~ Karl Barth.

Grace and gratitude belong together like heaven and earth. Gratitude evokes grace like the voice and echo. Gratitude follows grace as thunder follows lightning. ~ Karl Barth.

Exactly halfway between exegesis and practical theology stands dogmatics. ~ Karl Barth.

Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible. ~ Karl Barth.

The best theology would need no advocates; it would prove itself. ~ Karl Barth.

The relation of this God with this man; the relation of this man with this God – this is the only theme of the Bible and of philosophy. ~ Karl Barth.

True theology is an actual determination and claiming of man by the acting God. ~ Karl Barth.

The Spirit bears witness. Ecstasy and enlightenment, inspiration and intuition are not necessary. Happy is the man who is worthy of these; but woe unto us if we wait for such experiences; woe unto us if we do not perceive that these things are of secondary importance. ~ Karl Barth.

Famous Karl Barth Quotes

Prayer without study would be empty. Study without prayer would be blind. ~ Karl Barth.

With an ear open to your musical dialectic, one can be young and become old, can work and rest, be content and sad: in short, one can live. ~ Karl Barth.

No one can be saved – in virtue of what he can do. Everyone can be saved – in virtue of what God can do. ~ Karl Barth.

The church speaks finally in that it prays for the world. ~ Karl Barth.

Abortion is ’the great modern sin. ~ Karl Barth.


Grace and gratitude go together like heaven and earth. ~ Karl Barth.

We act unbelievingly and disobediently when, for whatever motive, we distort, falsify, or suppress the facts about our life in nature and history. ~ Karl Barth.

God has not the slightest need for our proofs. ~ Karl Barth.

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so? ~ Karl Barth.

In Jesus, God wills to be true God not only in the height but also in the depth – in the depth of human creatureliness, sinfulness and mortality. ~ Karl Barth.

Christian worship is the most momentous, most urgent, most glorious action that can take place in human life. ~ Karl Barth.

Popular Karl Barth Quotes

The Christian Church does not exist in Heaven, but on earth and in time. ~ Karl Barth.

There is no philosophy that is not to some extent also theology. ~ Karl Barth.

Let us hear what the Bible says and what we as Christians are called to hear together: By grace you have been saved. ~ Karl Barth.

In Jesus Christ He has chosen man from all eternity as His own, for life in His kingdom, to be a member of His people, His possession. ~ Karl Barth.

What God chooses for us children of men is always the best. ~ Karl Barth.

The determination of the elect consists in the fact that he allows himself to be loved by God—to live as one from whom all eternity God in His incomprehensible and unmerited goodness did not will to renounce, and therefore will not renounce. ~ Karl Barth.

There will be no song on our lips if there be no anguish in our hearts. ~ Karl Barth.

Sin scorches us most after it comes under the scrutinizing light of God’s forgiveness and not before. ~ Karl Barth.

If I have a system it is limited to a recognition of what Kierkegaard called ‘the infinite qualitative distinction’ between time and eternity. ~ Karl Barth.

I take the Bible far too seriously to take it literally. ~ Karl Barth.

Great Karl Barth Quotes

Sin is not confined to the evil things we do. It is the evil within us, the evil which we are. ~ Karl Barth.

I had to show that the Bible dealt with an encounter between God and Man. I thought only of the apartness of God. What I had to learn after that was the togetherness of Man and God a union of two totally different kinds of beings. ~ Karl Barth.

I have read many books, but the Bible reads me. ~ Karl Barth.

Religion is the possibility of the removal of every ground of confidence except confidence in God alone. ~ Karl Barth.

The command of God sets man free. ~ Karl Barth.

Belief cannot argue with unbelief, it can only preach to it. ~ Karl Barth.

The theologian who labors without joy is not a theologian at all. Sulky faces, morose thoughts and boring ways of speaking are intolerable in this field. ~ Karl Barth.

Grace must find expression in life, otherwise it is not grace. ~ Karl Barth.

Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God. ~ Karl Barth.

Mozart’s music always sounds unburdened, effortless, and light. This is why it unburdens, releases, and liberates us. ~ Karl Barth.

Whether the angels play only Bach praising God, I am not quite sure. ~ Karl Barth.

Mozart creates music from a mysterious center, and so knows the limits to the right and the left, above and below. He maintains moderation. ~ Karl Barth.

Wise Karl Barth Quotes

When we speak of our virtues we are competitors, when we confess our sins we become brothers. ~ Karl Barth.

Faith in God’s revelation has nothing to do with an ideology which glorifies the status quo. ~ Karl Barth.

The theologian who labors without joy is not a theologian at all. ~ Karl Barth.

The resurrection of Jesus was like a boulder crashing into the pool of history. ~ Karl Barth.

We must read the Bible through the eyes of shipwrecked people for whom everything has gone overboard. ~ Karl Barth.

Radically and basically, all sin is simply ingratitude. ~ Karl Barth.

One drop of eternity is of greater weight than a vast ocean of finite things. ~ Karl Barth.

Faith is never identical with piety. ~ Karl Barth.


Conscience is the perfect interpreter of life. ~ Karl Barth.

The person who knows only his side of the argument knows little of that. ~ Karl Barth.

We have before us the fiendishness of business competition and the world war, passion and wrongdoing, antagonism between classes and moral depravity within them, economic tyranny above and the slave spirit below. ~ Karl Barth.

I don’t believe in universalism, but I do believe in Jesus Christ, the reconciler of all. ~ Karl Barth.

So these were the 71 top Karl Barth quotes and sayings on scripture, worship, theology and resurrection.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar