Karl Barth’s last words

From Michael Jinkins’ Invitation to Theology:

On the evening of December 9, 1968, the aged Karl Barth was working on a lecture, his last lecture, and one he never gave. Only a few days earlier he had said:

The last word which I have to say as a theologian […] is not a term like ‘grace’, but a name, ‘Jesus Christ.’ He is grace, and he is the last, beyond the world and the church and even theology.

Barth had been thinking a lot about death in those days, his friends said, and about life after death. But on that night in December he continued to work. The phone rang as he sat writing at his desk. He stopped writing in midsentence and answered the phone. It was his old friend […]. They talked for a while, and after the conversation Barth did not return to his lecture. He left it for another day.

He died that night, and his lecture ended in midsentence. But the thought is complete. It reads:

God is not a God of the dead but of the living. In him they all live.

These were to be the last words we received from the pen of one of the most prolific Christian theologians in history.


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