25 Famous Karl Barth Quotes Every Theologian Should Know

One of the most influential theologians of all time

25 Famous Karl Barth Theological Quotes Every Theologian Should Know pixabay via @pexels

Karl Barth was a famous theologian who wrote many books including theological summa Church Dogmatics.

Why is Karl Barth one of the greatest theologians of all time?

He grew up in Switzerland and came from a religious household. From a young age, he was passionate and determined to study theology.

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Barth met a man named Martin Rade and joined a sect of German liberal theology. He served as a pastor in Geneva for a couple of years, and in 1911 he returned to Bible studying it and analyzing text.

He later met with Christian socialist and started to develop a sympathy to the industrial workers that he felt were exploited by the textile owners of the factories, many of them go to his church.

Karl Barth not only helps them but preaches it at mass which leads him to lose people and support in the congregation.

During the outbreak of World War 1 many theologians in Germany sided with the Kaiser (King) which left him shocked, he couldn't see why they would support someone like that.


He starts to see it as an immoral action and starts to think about what is leading these theologians to believe war is necessary. He felt that the foundation of their beliefs is the root cause of their support for the war.

He decided by writing his most notorious edition of the Epistle to the Roman (1919). He decided in the summer of 1916 to write a commentary on Paul's Epistle to the Romans as a way of rethinking his theological inheritance.

He attempted to restructure Protestant theology. His work included saving the grace of God and humanity's inability to know God outside of God's revelation in Christ.

Many read into Bart's books and see it as negative but in large part, his readings do portray God as acting in graciously ways in the world.


In honor of his teachings and philosophy lets go over some of his most noteworthy quotes. These are the best Karl Barth quotes of all time.

1. God chooses for us to be free

Karl Barth Quotes

“The doctrine of election is the sum of the gospel because of all words that can be said or heard it is the best: that God elects man; that God is for man to the one who loves in freedom.” — Karl Barth

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2. Don’t get stuck on what divides us

“…The simplest form of the dogma may be divided at once into the two assertions that Jesus Christ is the electing God and that He is also elected man.” — Karl Barth

3. God chose Jesus to teach us

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

4. You can't escape God's love

“[Man] can certainly flee from God (he does so), but he cannot escape Him… He may let go of God, but God does not let go of him” — Karl Barth

5. Allow yourself to be loved by God

Karl Barth Quotes


“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

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6. Set us free

“The command of God sets man free.” — Karl Barth

7. God will always be with us

"The mere fact that it takes place at all, that God stands before man as his Lord, that man’s existence can become his confrontation with God’s command, always means that God does not will to be without us, but, no matter who and what we may be, to be with us, that He Himself is always ‘God with us,’ Emmanuel.” — Karl Barth


8. Jesus chose us

“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

9. The Word became flesh

“Revelation in fact does not differ from the person of Jesus Christ nor from the reconciliation accomplished in Him. To say revelation is to say ‘the Word became flesh’.” — Karl Barth

10. God is in all of us

Karl Barth Quotes


“God reveals Himself. He reveals Himself through Himself. He reveals Himself. If we really want to understand Revelation in terms of its subject, i.e., God, then the first thing we have to realize is that this subject, God, the Revealer, is identical with His act in revelation and also identical with its effect.” — Karl Barth

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11. God is revealing in all things he makes

“Thus it is God Himself, it is the same God in unimpaired unity, who according to the biblical understanding of revelation is the revealing God, the event of revelation and its effect on man.” — Karl Barth

12. This is what makes us who we are

“The doctrine of the Trinity is what basically distinguishes the Christian doctrine of God as Christian…” — Karl Barth


13. God allows us to be free

“One may sum up the meaning of the doctrine of the Trinity briefly and simply by saying that God is the One who reveals Himself.” — Karl Barth

14. When you can always laugh

“Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God.” — Karl Barth

15. Pray is the answer

Karl Barth Quotes


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

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16. Study the Bible

“Prayer without study would be empty. Study without prayer would be blind.” — Karl Barth

17. Reading the Bible is important

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

18. Follow the way of Jesus

“Jesus does not give recipes that show the way to God as other teachers of religion do. He is Himself the way” — Karl Barth

19. Listen to both sides

“The person who knows only his side of the argument knows little of that.” — Karl Barth


20. Study and analyze the teachings of Jesus

Karl Barth Quotes

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

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21. God has a never-ending love

“This much is certain, that we have no theological right to set any sort of limits to the loving-kindness of God which has appeared in Jesus Christ. Our theological duty is to see and understand it as being still greater than we had seen before.” — Karl Barth

22. Love god together as one

“It may be that when the angels go about their task praising God, they play only Bach. I am sure, however, that when they are together en famille they play Mozart.” — Karl Barth

23. Give glory to god

“As ministers we ought to speak of God. We are human, however, and so cannot speak of God. We ought therefore to recognize both our obligation and our inability and by that very recognition give glory to God” — Karl Barth

24. To be happy you need to be grateful

“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” — Karl Barth


25. Act in god's name

Karl Barth Quotes

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

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Steven Hall is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.