Truth and error are opposites. Truth, by definition, neither contains error, nor is uncertain, nor is liable to error. Knowledge, by definition, is apprehension of what is true. One cannot be said to know what is false. One can have false information, but one cannot have false knowledge. “False knowledge is a contradiction in terms.” What is true cannot be in error. What is known cannot be false. Therefore, knowledge is infallible. (Without a Prayer, pgs. 255-256)
Second, Barth confounds the inspiration of the Scripture with the illumination of the reader. He commends Luther for insisting that the word of Scripture can be recognized as God’s word only because of the work of the Spirit which has taken place in it takes place again and becomes an event for its readers. This second work “is only a continuation of the first.” Now, if this were so, the readers would soon be writing more Scripture; for since the first work of the Spirit, his work in the prophets, resulted in the writing of the Biblical books, a continuation of the same work would result in additional books of the Bible. Undeniably there is an illumination of some readers of the Bible. By the testimony of the Spirit a man is convinced that the Scripture is in truth the Word of God; by the Spirit’s illumination a believer may come to an understanding of a better understanding of this or that passage. Luther was right when he insisted that the Bible can be recognized as the Word of God only because of the work of the Spirit; but this is a totally different and distinct work. To recognize that the Bible is the Word of God is not to receive an additional Ten Commandments. Barth also quotes Calvin, Institutes I, ix, 3. But neither the quotation nor the chapter from which it is taken supports Barth’s view. Calvin is discussing the testimony and illumination of the Spirit, not the inspiration of the Bible; and he gives no hint that this work in the believer is only a continuation of that in the prophets. Quite the reverse: the chapter is entitled, “The Fanaticism Which Discards Scripture under the Pretense of Resorting to Immediate Revelations.” How better could Calvin deny that illumination is the same work as that which occurred in the inspiration of the Bible?