(iv.1.58.1 cont.) Reconciliation is truly God’s activity alone. There is no cooperation between humanity and God; God is the one who crosses the “abyss” distancing them. God “gives himself to him* as his God, as the One who did not and will not cease to be his God, the God of sinful and carnal man”. Reconciliation is the fact that the distance has been crossed once and for all; and in this initiation by God humanity “finds himself accused… humbled … judged by his God, but also and primarily received by Him and reclaimed as His possession and hidden in Him and sustained by Him and addressed and treated as His friend and indeed His child”. By the grace of God and His activity and declaration toward us—“grounded in itself and [being] known only by itself”—and the atonement which has taken place, and the covenant that has been re-established by God, humanity can have peace with God.

The whole of reconciliation is completely dependent on God’s activity and not on what humanity did, do, or will do; it comes to humanity from above independent of what occurs below. “When man is asked concerning his righteousness or holiness of truth, he can only point to this utter lack of all these things and then at once point away from himself…to Jesus Christ”. In God’s movement toward humanity and humanity’s recognition of their pitiful state and need for reconciliation by something outside of themselves (revealed to them and encouraged to confess by the Holy Spirit), lie the roots of faith, love, and hope.


“Christian obedience consists in this, and its joy and certainty rest and renew themselves on this: that by the grace of God this is the relationship of God with man” (emphasis mine). And this grace is the one grace of God, the one, complete—subjectively and “divine objectivity”—Grace of God that is given to needy, receiving humanity as a free gift of God’s free will and choice to initiate through reconciliation by the atonement made through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. “…[Humanity] is and remains always a recipient, a state in which he not only does not cease but can never do more than begin (and he will always be a beginner) to beg and to reach out for it in his poverty , in order that in that poverty he may be rich”. Humanity cannot cling to grace and say “mine” using it as an objective stepping stone to move off from; rather, humanity clings to God in desperate need and receives His complete Grace as the basis and source for its entire existence.

* Barth uses the male pronouns to talk about “humanity”. When I am summarizing Barth in my own words, I will use “humanity”. However, when I quoted Barth, I chose to keep the male pronouns to prevent the quotes from becoming unruly with brackets and, thus, impeding reading.