God is He who in His Son Jesus Christ loves all His children, in His children all men, and in men His whole creation. God’s being is His loving. He is all that He is as the One who loves. All His perfections are the perfections of His love. Since our knowledge of God is grounded in His revelation in Jesus Christ and remains bound up with it, we cannot begin elsewhere—if we are now to consider and state in detail and in order who and what God is—than with the consideration of His love. In the Gospel of Israel’s Messiah and His fulfilment of the Law, of the Word that was made flesh and dwelt among us, of Him who died for our sins and rose again for our justification—in this Gospel the love of God is the first word. If then, as is proper, we are to be told by the Gospel who and what God is, we must allow this primary word to be spoken to us—that God is love. We must recognise and understand all His perfections as the perfections of His love. This is in spite of the fact that at a first glance we might suppose that we ought to seek the divinity of the divine being much rather in the freedom of God, i.e., in His unity, constancy and eternity, in His omnipresence, omnipotence and glory. This freedom of God will be our theme in the next section. God’s freedom is in fact no less divine than His love. And God’s love is in fact divine only in so far as it is exercised in His freedom. But again, God’s love, too, is no less divine than His freedom. And again, God’s freedom is divine only in so far as it is the freedom in which He loves. And not according to value and dignity, not in the sense of any hierarchy, but in the sense of the intrinsic manner in which God is God (as was shown at the end of the preceding section), according to the intrinsic order of the divine life, He is first of all the One who loves and then and as such the One who is free. The recognition of this does not mean that first of all, provisionally setting aside God’s freedom, we can and will turn exclusively to the love of God as such, and afterwards equally exclusively to His freedom. In a static systematisation of that type we do not do justice to the intrinsic mode of God’s being. There is no love of God in itself and as such, just as there is no freedom of God in itself and as such. God’s being consists in His being as the One who loves in freedom. Thus in thinking of His love we have constantly to bear in mind His freedom (and later, in thinking of His freedom, we must not forget His love). It can involve only a change of emphasis or key if we now tread a way demanded by the peculiar characteristic of God’s being itself. This way can consist only in our thinking first of the love of God as it really exists in His freedom and then of His freedom as it really exists in His loving. But the “first” and “then,” the sequence, can be reversed only arbitrarily and at the cost of great artificiality and misapprehension. We cannot allow ourselves such caprice. Therefore we begin with the perfections of the divine love: with the intention and in the confidence that in this way, even if indirectly, we are beginning also with the divine freedom. God is gracious, merciful and patient both in Himself and in all His works. This is His loving. But He is gracious, merciful and patient in such a way—because He loves in His freedom—that He is also holy, righteous and wise—again both in Himself and in all His works. For this is the freedom in which He loves. Thus the divinity of His love consists and confirms itself in the fact that it is grace, mercy and patience and in that way and for that reason it is also holiness, righteousness and wisdom. These are the perfections of His love. In this its divinity consists and is confirmed.

Wow when I consider what Barth is saying here it makes my heart soar. Our Christian communities can at times offer up an explanation or presentation of the Gospel in a way that makes it seem as if it is more of a delineation between “us” and “them” rather than an invitation for the whole world based on God’s love and freedom to do so. Sometimes I see our systematics, constructs and regulations in church representing something more of the fear and control of god by man (as if man could do that) rather than the love and freedom of God controlling man. This reading has been a real blessing to me as I have considered the black and white razors edge judgment of some of my peers concerning the nature and issue of those called to Christ from certain sins that are culturally dirty or socially less acceptable. Some of my peers seem to be cultivating and perpetuating a church experience resulting in a culture of fear and control. I want to cultivate and perpetuate a church experience resulting in the metanoia that takes place as a result of God’s love and His freedom to do so.images

Reading scheduled for CD II.2
[ ]April 14, 2014 pp v–xi, pp 3–19
[ ]April 16, 2014 pp 20–45
[ ]April 18, 2014 pp 46–79
[ ]April 21, 2014 pp 80–106
[ ]April 23, 2014 pp 107–135
[ ] April 25, 2014 pp 136–172
[ ] April 28, 2014 pp 173–197
[ ] April 30, 2014 pp 198–224
[ ] May 02, 2014 pp 225–260
[ ] May 05, 2014 pp 261–286
[ ] May 07, 2014 pp 287–320
[ ] May 09, 2014 pp 321–350
[ ] May 12, 2014 pp 351–388
[ ] May 14, 2014 pp 389–412
[ ] May 16, 2014 pp 413–439
[ ] May 19, 2014 pp 440–474
[ ] May 21, 2014 pp 475–501
[ ] May 23, 2014 pp 502–532
[ ] May 26, 2014 pp 533–570
[ ] May 28, 2014 pp 571–596
[ ] May 30, 2014 pp 597–624
[ ] June 02, 2014 pp 625–660
[ ] June 04, 2014 pp 661–686
[ ] June 06, 2014 pp 687–721
[ ] June 09, 2014 pp 722–752
[ ] June 11, 2014 pp 753–783, pp 798–806

Learn more about Karl Barth here.
Buy his Church Dogmatics in LOGOS here.

*Reading list generated by Logos Bible Software.



[1] Logos Bible Software, Barth, K., Bromiley, G. W., & Torrance, T. F. (2004). Church dogmatics: The doctrine of God, Part 1 (Vol. 2, pp. 351–352). London; New York: T&T Clark.