“capacitating the incapacitated”

George Hunsinger, “Karl Barth’s Doctrine of the Holy Spirit”
from The Cambridge Companion to Karl Barth
Those who are awakened to lifelong conversion by the Spirit never cease to be sinners themselves. Yet despite their continuing sinfulness, the miracle of grace never ceases in the hearts (183).

What the miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit brings about [in conversion] . . . is not essentially restoration or healing but resurrection from the dead (184).

Since to be a sinner means to be incapacitated, grace means capacitating the incapacitated despite their incapacitation. Sinners capacitated by grace remain helpless in themselves. Grace does not perfect and exceed human nature in its sorry plight so much as contradict and overrule it.

In this miraculous and mysterious way, by grace alone—that is, through a continual contradiction of nature by grace that results in a provisional conjunction of opposites (coniunctio oppositorum)—the blind see, the lame walk, and the dead are raised to new life (cf. Matt. 11:4) (185).

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