Posts Tagged ‘terror’

“They have encountered the grace of God; have met the incomprehensibility of God, as Job did–out of the whirlwind. They were terrified in their ungodliness and unrighteousness and were shaken out of their dreaming. It was as though the veil of the mist of religion was dispersed and the cloud of divine wrath was rent asunder; and they heard the indiscoverable, saw the negation of God! felt the barrier of the judgment, the paradox of existence, and, hopeful in their distress, divined the meaning of life. They came to themselves in fear and awe and trembling and in–‘clarity of sight’. In the presence of God they were compelled to stand still.” p. 59 The Epistle to the Romans

The ‘they’ at the start there is referring to ‘stalwarts in the army of light’, ‘real men…far-seeing and intelligent men…who have caught a glimpse of the Last Things”. “felt” is also not capitalized in the text after the exclamation point.


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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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