”The Church of Esau is, and remains, what it is. It must nail Christ, its only hope, to the Cross. There is no alternative: when men do not joyfully accept the divine order, whereby God chooses us and not we Him, they must inevitably overthrow it. However apparent the failings of the Church may be—its superficiality and dullness, its worldliness and its asceticism, its useless humility and its equally useless pride, its misplaced zeal in trivial matters and its equally misplaced and helpless unconcern with the things of existence and non-existence,—these, and many other accusations which may be brought against the Church, would not be sufficient to secure its condemnation, were it not that it stood already condemned by its failure to accept the judgement pronounced over men as men, before ever they have committed this or that offence or failed in this or that particular.
Were the Church to appear before men as a Church under judgement; did it know of no other justification save that which is in judgement; did it believe in the stone of stumbling and rock of offense, instead of being offended and scandalized at it; then, with all its failings and offences—and certainly one day purified of some of them—it would be the Church of God. The Church, however, which sings its triumphs and trims and popularizes and modernizes itself, in order to minister to and satisfy every need except the one!; the Church which, in spite of many exposures, is still satisfied with itself, and like quicksilver, still seeks and finds its own level; such a Church can never succeed, be it never so zealous, never so active in ridding itself of its failings and blemishes. With or without offenses, it can never be the Church of God, because it is ignorant of the meaning of repentance. […]
Who does not substitute some plan or program or method, some new thing, some new ’interpretation of the truth’, some movement or task, which gives us less to create but more to do, less to ponder but more to talk about, less to endure but more to undertake, than does the righteousness of God? And so we introduce a ’thing’ by which men—and especially religious men—secure an advantage for themselves. Immersed in the happiness of doing and speaking and inaugurating, busy with reforms and revolutions, they are able to forget the judgement hanging over their heads, and so the ’thing’ on which they are engaged turns out more to their credit than if they were to seek naught else but to fear and to love God above all things. Was there ever a period when the Church was free of the temptation to substitute a human righteousness of it own for the righteousness of God? Was there ever a time when the temptation was resisted?”
- Barth, Karl: 1968: The Epistle to the Romans. New York: Oxford University Press. (Utg. på tyska 1922. Engelsk översättning utg. 1933 av Oxford University Press, London.) S 370, 373.