Karl Barth on Christians and Death

How should Christians see death? Is death something to be feared? Should Christians look forward to death? In reflecting on these things, I really appreciate what Karl Barth has to say on this subject.

The New Testament does not fear death. But he never hopes for it. He hopes for the One who has delivered him from death. It is because he hopes for Him, and expects to be with Him when he dies, that he is willing to die “gladly” like Jacob. Death is the preferable alternative. But he does not will it. He wills the life bounded by it as the sphere of the decisions in which he moves toward Christ as his judge. He wills it as the opportunity to serve the One who will be his only hope in his end. And it is because he can already serve in his life the One who even in death will be his Lord that he rejoices in this perfect form of His lordship, in the prospect of being definitely with Him. He does not rejoice in the prospect of being freed from His service, of having his time behind him. On the contrary, the definitive prospect in which he rejoices is for him an authorisation and command to serve God in his allotted span with all the preliminary joy without which his joy in his end and new beginning with Him would be purely imaginary. He affirms Jesus Christ as his beyond. And it is for this reason that he understands his life here and now as one which is affirmed by his beyond. (Church Dogmatics X.47.5)


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One thought on “Karl Barth on Christians and Death”

  1. He wills the life bounded by it as the sphere of the decisions in which he moves toward Christ as his judge – words by Karl Barth. To me there is no reason to fear death. Thanks for bringing the words of a great theologian on this subject.

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