The baptism of the Holy Spirit; from Scripture to the exegetical, nuanced and introspective theology of Karl Barth

Karl Barth wrote Church Dogmatics, an exhaustive systematic theology focused on the ministry of the Word of God.  Tucked away in section IV book 4 on pages 3-40 (Hendrickson Publishers edition) is his exposition of the scriptures and theology surrounding the ministry and baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The thoughts and ideas expressed here are, in my opinion, some of the most thoughtful, introspective and nuanced theological prose I have ever encountered.  In these pages he crystallizes the importance of the ministry and baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The explanation focuses around the answers to 2 key questions: 1.  As we have  experienced God’s faithfulness in our lives, how is it that we then become faithful and obedient to Him?  2.  Who is it that baptizes us in the Holy Spirit? 

With respect to the first question, Barth puts it this way:
       …if it is possible for a man to be faithful to God instead of unfaithful, there must be a change which comes over the man himself…not simply an awakening of his natural powers or by his endowment with supernatural powers or by his placing by God under another light or judgement in which he stands before God…in the work of the Holy Spirit this man ceases to be a man who is closed and blind and deaf and uncomprehending but rather becomes a man who is open, seeing, hearing and comprehending…

This faithfulness (of us to God) is proceeded by what Barth calls “the divine turning” (sovereign God draws us to be born again , John 1:13, 1 Peter 1:3) and the “divine change” (the historical work, ministry and resurrection of Jesus is applied to those who believe creating new life, 2 Cor 5:17, Titus 3:5).  He says, “we thus maintain that the power of the divine change in which the event of the Christian life of a specific man takes place is the power of their baptism with the Holy Ghost.”.   He then concludes that the baptism of the Holy Ghost is, “the divine opening up and preparation of man for the Christian life in its totality”

With respect to the second question he shares 5 key points…these will follow in an upcoming blog post.


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