Posts Tagged ‘abyss’

“In fact, our experience is that which we have not experienced; our religion consists in the dissolution of religion; our law is the complete disestablishment of all human experience and knowledge and action and possession. Nothing human which desires to be more than a void and a deprivation, a possibility and a sign-post, more than the most trivial thing in the midst of the phenomena of this world, survives; nothing which is not, like everything else in this world, dust and ashes–before God. Only faith survives: faith which is not a work, not even a negative work; not an achievement, not even the achievement of humility; not a thing which exists before God and man in its own right. Faith is the ground, the new order, the light, where boasting ends and the true righteousness of God begins. Faith is not a foundation upon which men can emplace themselves; not an atmosphere in which they can breathe; not a system under which they can arrange their lives. Regarded from our human point of view, what was once religion and law and a method of life becomes anarchy and a void and an abyss. But the law of the faithfulness of God, or, what is the same thing, the law of faith, is the place where we are established by God. There there is nothing but God Himself, God only; and there the place is no place; for it is the ‘Moment’ when men are moved by God, by the true God, the Creator and Redeemer of men and of all human things; the ‘Moment’ when men surrender themselves and all that they are to God. The ‘Moment’ of the movement of men by God is beyond men, it cannot be enclosed in a system or a method or a ‘way’. It rests in the good pleasure of God and its occasion is to be sought and found only in Him. The law of the spirit of life (viii. 2) is the point of view–which is no point of view!–by which all human boasting is excluded.” p. 110 The Epistle to the Romans

I will work backwards. This is a foreshadow of an upcoming post I will do about me and how I came to my beliefs. Perhaps that is the wrong wording…

The point of view which is no point of view… is the law of the spirit of life. Kind of weird already. What is a point of view which is no point of view? The moment when men are moved by God cannot be enclosed in a system or method or ‘way’. Our destiny and salvation, our life and our truth, are not things that fit into an order that we can create and follow. Many disagree on this, but I will proceed. Men are moved by God, and surrender themselves and all that they are to Him in this Moment where, in the place that is no place, where there is nothing but God Himself, Creator and Redeemer, the law of faith is established. Where is God, and God alone, establishing the law of faith in man? The place that is no place. We do not create the law of faith, or have faith in God. He first moves us to Him. He first creates faith and gives it to us. What do we do? We surrender all that we are to Him. Can we do otherwise? Our human law, our human religion, our human methods and ‘ways’ are naught. They are anarchy, void and abyss. Faith is not a foundation upon which we can stand, or a sustaining air we can breath, or a system that we can adhere to. Faith is where the righteousness of God begins, and the boasting of man ends. It is the ground, the new order, the light…it is not an achievement of humility by man, but of God. It is not a work! In the world, nothing human that is not but dust and ashes survives before God. What survives is deprivation, void, possibility…a sign-post pointing beyond ourselves and to God. What survives is Faith! What we experience is what we have not experienced. Our religion is not religion, but the dissolution of it. Our law throws away all human experience, knowledge, action and possession. What do we have but faith…


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“Death is the meaning of religion; for when we are pressed to the boundary of religion, death pronounces the inner calm of simple and harmless relativity to be at an end. Religion is not at all to be ‘in tune with the infinite’ or to be at ‘peace with oneself’. It has no place for refined sensibility or mature humanity. Let simple minded Occidentals (!) retain such opinions as long as they are able. But religion is an abyss: it is terror. There demons appear (Ivan Karamazov and Luther!). There the old enemy of man is strangely near. There sin deceives. There the power of the commandment is deadly–the serpent beguiled me (Gen. iii. 13).”

Just one of the things Barth says about religion in The Epistle to the Romans. I’ve heard people say how comforting religion can be, and how it is easy to be a Christian (all statements from non-believers) and I would always respond by how inaccurate their claim is. But Barth says it best here, and many other places in his writings: abyss and terror. How powerful…

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