Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Karl Barth

Swiss Protestant Reformed Theologian and Educator

"Man can certainly keep on lying (and does so), but he cannot make truth falsehood."

"The best theology would need no advocates; it would prove itself."

"Conscience is the perfect interpreter of life."

"History is the display of the supposed advantages of power and intelligence which some men possess over others, of the struggle for existence hypocritically described by ideologists as the struggle for justice and freedom, of the ebb and flow of old and new forms of human righteousness, each vying with the rest in the solemnity and triviality... Yet one drop of eternity is of greater weight than a vast ocean of finite things."

"Every visible state, every temporal, every pragmatic approach to faith, is, in the end, the negation of faith."

"Where there is no anguish in the heart there will be no great music on the lips."

"Men suffer, because, bearing within them an invisible world, they find this unobservable inner world met by the tangible, foreign, other outer world, desperately visible, dislocated, its fragments jostling one another, yet mightily powerful and strangely menacing and hostile."

"We must understand that God is the measure of all reality and propriety, understand that eternity exists first and then time, and therefore the future first and then the present, as surely as the Creature exists first and then the creature."

"Faith is never identical with piety."

"Man as man cries for God. He cries not for a truth, for truth; not for something good but the good; not for answers but the answer – the one that is identical with its own question. Man himself is the real question, and if the answer is to be found in the question, he must find answer in himself: he must be the answer."

"Tolerance in the sense of moderation or superior knowledge or skepticism is actually the worst form of intolerance."

"The morality of modern civilized man has turned out to be a terribly thin covering of ice over a sea of primitive barbarity."

"Anti-Semitism in any form is a barbaric insult to our culture and our civilization, which have been moulded by Christianity, and as a breakdown of Christian values, which have become confused and lacking in humanity."

"Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God."

"The theologian who has no joy in his work is not a theologian at all. Sulky faces morose thoughts and boring ways of speaking are intolerable in this science."

"To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world."

"Joy is the simplest form of gratitude. "