A virtual exhibit devoted to the life and work of Karl Barth
Karl Barth (1886–1968) may very well be the most influential theologian of the twentieth century. The effects of his theological project still ripple in his wake among theologians, pastors, and interested laypeople, and for both Protestants and Catholics. What’s more, his prolific output as a scholar has given theologians after him a great deal to turn over and explore further, whether with regard to his doctrinal views, his relationship to other nineteenth- and twentieth-century theologians and philosophers, or his political thought. In honor of this great Swiss Reformed theologian, we have created The Barth Booth, a virtual exhibit dedicated to his life and thought. Included are interviews with leading Barth scholars (Kaitlyn Dugan [director of the Center for Barth Studies], Kara Slade, and Stanley Hauerwas), as well as a selection of Wipf and Stock’s books by and about Barth. The exhibit’s interviews will be posted on this page one at a time every two weeks from early March to early April, finishing with the Hauerwas interview.
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Interviews on Karl Barth
Kara Slade: God’s Conclusive Action in Jesus Christ, The Time of the Resurrection, and Barth among North American Anglicans
Dr. Slade on the ecclesial setting of Barth’s theology, the conclusiveness of God’s action in Jesus Christ, Barth’s reception among North American Anglicans, Barth’s theology of time, and some of the promising prospects for Barth studies today. Listen to the interview . . .
Kaitlyn Dugan: God’s “Yes” to the World, Barth and the Political, and the Center for Barth Studies
Dr. Dugan talks about the important work of the Center for Barth Studies, the relationship between Barth and Pauline apocalyptic, the “Yes” and “No” of Barth’s theology, and Barthian political theology. Listen to the interview . . .
Books by Karl Barth
Karl Barth, because of poor health, was unable to accept the invitation to be an observer at the final two sessions of Vatican II. When his condition improved, however, he was eager to make a trip to Rome to learn firsthand how the Council decisions were understood at the heart of Catholicism. The Secretariat for Christian Unity readily agreed, and so Barth made his pilgrimage “to the threshold of the Apostles” September 22–29, 1966. Included here are an account of Barth’s trip to Rome, questions for clarification and critical questions he asked, an essay about the Constitution on Divine Revelation, a letter on Mariology to a German Catholic theologian, and an appendix on Barth’s thoughts about Vatican II before its work was completed. He calls for Protestants to take a lesson from the stirrings of renewal within the Roman Church and “sweep away the dust before the door of our own church with a careful but nevertheless mighty broom.”
In this essay, Barth discusses the relationship between Christ and Adam as understood by Paul. Moving beyond traditional exegetical and theological scholarship done on Romans 5, Barth offers an entirely new interpretation of the conception of humanity presented in Paul’s view of the Christ-Adam relationship. A valid contribution to the interpretation of Romans 5, Christ and Adam is also an example of Barth’s exegetical method and provides insight into his broader theological project.
The Church and the War contains two short pieces by Karl Barth: “A Review of Protestant Reactions to National Socialism” and “A Letter to American Christians,” both written in the 1940s. The first selection offers Barth’s analysis of the “wholly destructive and anti-spiritual nihilism” of National Socialism embodied in the Nazi Party, as well as the role of the Church in the face of this evil—a role of resisting this neo-paganism and, of course, of preaching the Gospel to a 20th-century Europe that has forgotten it. The second, “A Letter to American Christians” is the longer of the two and the heart of this little book. In it, Barth answers a series of questions posed to him by an American on behalf of the Church in the United States, dealing with loyalty to Church and state, a proper theology of war, the role of the Church during war time, and other issues.
Whenever people in the past generation have reflected deeply on the ultimate problems of life and faith, they have done so in a way that bears the mark of the intellectual revolution let loose by Karl Barth. But his life was not simply one of quiet reflection and scholarship. He was obliged to do his thinking and writing in one of the stormiest periods of history, and he always attempted to speak to the problems and concerns of the time. In June 1933 he emerged as the theologian of the Confessional movement, which was attempting to preserve the integrity of the Evangelical Church in Germany against corruption from within and terror from without. His leadership in this struggle against Nazism also made it necessary for him to say something about the totalitarianism that the Soviet power was clamping down upon a large part of Europe. In this indirect way, a Barthian social philosophy emerged, and this theologian, who abjured apologetics and desired nothing but to expound the Word of God, was compelled by circumstances to propound views on society and the state that make him one of the most influential social thinkers of our time.
This important book, by a theologian regarded as the most eminent of this century, explains the Apostle’s Creed as a foundation of the Christian religion.
This book takes us behind prison bars—to hear powerful, simple, direct sermons by the man widely known as the twentieth century’s most influential theologian. Originally delivered to inmates of the prison in Basel, Switzerland, these sermons shine with Karl Barth’s thought and exaltation of the living Christ. Including sermons on the great feasts of the Christian year such as Christmas and Easter, Deliverance to the Captives offers new hope powerfully phrased, and a wide entry into the thought of a supreme theologian.
Originally published in German in an edition edited by Dietrich Braun, Karl Barth’s Ethics is at last available in English. This volume, containing lectures given as courses at the University at Munster in 1928 and 1929, represents Barth’s first systematic attempt at a theological account of Christian ethics. Although composed over fifty years ago, just prior to Barth’s thirty-year devotion to Church Dogmatics, many of its themes, problems, and conclusions are astonishingly relevant today (his critique of competitiveness and of technology, for example). While this work is concerned with the foundations of ethics, it also reveals Barth’s highly practical interest in ethics and his special concern to avoid legalism and yet to maintain a structured divine command. Barth’s ethics are arranged on a Trinitarian basis, dealing in succession with the command of God the Creator (life), the command of God the Reconciler (law), and the command of God the Redeemer (promise).
The five brief pieces collected here represent the final words prepared by Karl Barth for publication, all of them originating during the period from his serious illness in August of 1968 to his death in December of that same year. The final selection is a fragment left unfinished the night he died. “The last word that I have to say as a theologian or politician is not a concept like grace but a name: Jesus Christ. He is grace and he is the ultimate one beyond world and church and even theology. We cannot lay hold of him. But we have to do with him. . . . There is no salvation but in this name. In him is grace.”
In this series of lectures delivered in the period immediately preceding World War II, Barth addresses the major topics of systematic theology. The reader gets a glimpse of the depth of Barth’s thinking in these brief discourses, which he expanded upon greatly in his major work, Church Dogmatics. In an Appendix, Barth answers questions from the audience regarding the last essay.
This reissue of Emil Brunner’s ‘Nature and Grace’ with Karl Barth’s response ‘No!’ places back into the hands of theological students one of the most important, and well publicized, theological arguments of the twentieth century. Here we see the climax of Barth and Brunner’s disagreement over the point of contact for the gospel in the consciousness of natural man. Also at stake is the nature of the theological task. Brunner claims that the task of that generation was to find a way back to a legitimate natural theology. Barth responds strongly, arguing that there is no way to knowledge of God by way of human reason. Barth’s radical Christocentric redevelopment of Reformation theology left no room for any source of authority aside from the Word of God.
Karl Barth saw chapter 15 as the center of 1st Corinthians, arguing that a misunderstanding of the resurrection underlies all the problems in Corinth. In this volume, he develops his view of biblical eschatology, asserting that chapter 15 is key to understanding the testimony of the New Testament. Barth understood the last things not as an end to history but as an end-history with which any period is faced. “He only speaks of last things who would speak of the end of all things, of their end understood plainly and fundamentally, of a reality so radically superior to all things that the existence of all things would be utterly and entirely based upon it alone, and thus, in speaking of their end, he would in truth be speaking of nothing else than their beginning.”
This Shorter Commentary on Romans is a smaller and younger brother of the Epistle to the Romans of 1918 and 1921. It originated as the manuscript for a course of extra-mural lectures, held in Basel during the winter of 1940–41.
In 1933, the very year Hitler came to power in Germany, Karl Barth wrote Theological Existence To-Day! to take his stand against state control of the German church. Many believe this book began the fateful struggle for a Confessing Church.
“Barth had to clarify for himself the meaning of revelation. Early in his theological career he came to hold that in revelation God is actively engaged revealing himself and that the only God we know is this God who reveals himself, God-in-his-revelation, God-in-his-Word who comes to us, acts upon us, and summons us into responsible relation to himself. Concretely that means that God reveals himself in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, and that this revelation creates out of the world a community of those who hear and respond and who by the impact of that revelation become the realm within which God continues to reveal himself through his Word to the world.”
—from the introduction by T. F. Torrance
“Karl Barth never revised for publication these lectures that he gave on Schleiermacher early in his teaching career. Yet they are important for several reasons. First, they show Barth at work as a scholar, professor, and theologian. Second, they provide the materials from which he drew the brilliant essays that he later wrote on Schleiermacher. Third, they testify to his early recognition of Schleiermacher as both the father of Liberal Protestantism and its most gifted theologian. Fourth, they give evidence of Barth’s predominant concern, not for background, influences, and historical development, but for subject-matter. Fifth, they pinpoint already the sharp differences between Schleiermacher’s thought and what Barth was not coming to see as a truly scriptural and Reformed dogmatics.”
—from the preface by G. W. Bromiley
Books about Karl Barth
The Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) was one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century. This book shows how German and European history of that century—the First World War, the rise of Hitler, the German church struggle—resonates in the theological work of Barth. He opposed National Socialism and criticized the naturalness with which the West got carried away in the Cold War rhetoric after the Second World War. A beautiful, accessible overview work for anyone who wants to get to know Barth better.
Reading Karl Barth provides a cluster of major themes and signposts by which to orient one’s reading of Barth’s theology. It assists readers in (a) recognizing and understanding what Barth is doing theologically and why and how he is doing it; and (b) assessing the extent to which Barth’s theology is or is not a fruitful resource for their own context, as individuals and communities of faith. The distinctive value of the book’s approach lies in its demonstration of the ways in which Barth’s theology—in both his own time and in ours—”cuts both ways,” to the theological left and right. This involves identifying various theological logics that constitute the diverse and conflictual landscape of shared Christian identity and faith—both in Barth’s time and in our own—enabling readers to recognize not only where and why Barth is located in that landscape, but also where and why they themselves are located, together with their respective faith communities.
In his lifetime, Karl Barth changed the whole pattern of twentieth-century religious thinking. For his early writings, he was called a prophet and compared with the Reformers and Kierkegaard; Pope Pius XII said that there had been nothing like his later thought since Thomas Aquinas. In his opposition to Nazism and his support for the German Confessing Church he was an inspiration to Christians everywhere. Yet he has also been called an ogre and a sadist, and his writings have been identified as a major cause of the introversion of much modern theology and phenomena like the “death of God” movement. Moreover, since his death his reputation has gone into a decline, as concerns other than his have come to dominate the theological field. The fact remains that even now Barth cannot be ignored; moreover, he can still be enjoyed, for both in his life and in his thinking there is an infectious element of delight which cannot fail to captivate those who try to understand him. This book, by setting off Barth’s life against his theology, aims at being both an introduction to Barth for those unfamiliar with him and a critical comment on his lasting significance.
Karl Barth is an unparalleled accomplishment. An authentic church father of the Post-Reformation era, the Basel professor’s contributions to theology, the life of the church, and the world of culture and politics have been frequently noted. This work, however, presents extraordinary new information and insight based on his own correspondence and notes. What one finds in this work is Barth’s own running commentary on events and people—from 1886 to 1968. Everything is depicted from his perspective and chiefly in his own words, and this is precisely what makes the volume so fascinating and valuable. The brilliance, wit, and humanity of Barth shine through everywhere as he is seen as son, brother, student, editor, friend, pastor, husband, father, soldier, teacher, theologian, church leader, political critic, polemicist, ecumenist, author, preacher, music lover, senior citizen.
In this innovative work, Christian T. Collins Winn examines the role played by the Pietist pastors Johann Christoph Blumhardt (1805-1880) and Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt (1842-1919) in the development of Karl Barth’s theology. The disparate theological themes and dynamics of the two Blumhardts were crystallized in their eschatology, and Collins Winn argues that as early as 1916 Barth had appropriated this “Blumhardtian eschatological deposit” in ways fundamental to his own theological development. Against the grain of current Barth scholarship, this book establishes how the theology of the Blumhardts, though critically reconstructed, was not merely an episodic inﬂuence on Barth’s work. Instead, the Blumhardts had a complex and enduring impact on Barth, such that their imprint can be detected even in the mature theology of his Church Dogmatics. In treading new ground into Barth’s theological formation, Jesus Is Victor! represents an important contribution to the field of Barth studies.
The theology of Karl Barth has been a productive dialogue partner for evangelical theology. For too long, however, the dialogue has been dominated by questions of orthodoxy. The present volume seeks to contribute to the conversation through a creative reconfiguration of both partners in the conversation, neither of whom can be rightly understood as preservers of Protestant Orthodoxy. Rather, American evangelicalism is identified with the revivalist forms of Protestantism that arose in the post-Reformation era, while Barth is revisited as a theologian attuned both to divine and human agency. In the ensuing conversation questions of orthodoxy are not eliminated, but subordinated to a concern for the life of God and God’s people. This volume brings together seasoned Barth scholars, evangelical theologians, and some younger voices, united by a common desire to rethink both Karl Barth and evangelical theology. By offering an alternative to the dominant constraints, the book opens up new avenues for fruitful conversation on Barth and the future of evangelical theology.
Questions of ecclesiology abound, and Karl Barth has been regarded as an unhelpful conversation partner and guide for those who care about ecclesiology and the place of the church in the academic pursuit of theology. The Only Sacrament Left to Us recovers Barth’s doctrine of the threefold Word of God and shows that it is at the heart of Barth’s ecclesiological commitments, and that Barth offers a distinct and robust doctrine of the church worthy to be carried forward into the twenty-first-century debates about the church’s place in God’s economy. The book explores the central role of the threefold Word of God in Barth’s theology of the church, explains its place in Barth’s later doctrine of reconciliation, and seeks to engage the field of Barth studies with contemporary ecclesiological questions.
Christ Is Time: The Gospel according to Karl Barth (and the Red Hot Chili Peppers) welcomes you to the jungle of Barth’s head-banging opus, the Church Dogmatics, with the beats, rhythms, and lyrics of Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Metallica, and more. Based on lectures at Princeton Seminary, Edwards distills Barth’s treatment of key questions in philosophical and systematic theology, offering a playlist of greatest hits on trinity, Christology, prayer, and others. With the care of a scholar and the energy of a stack of Peaveys, Christ Is Time testifies that the eternal God “gives it away” as time through Jesus Christ. Let’s face it: Karl’s style is a bit Beastie. And since Depeche Mode can say it best, this just might be a match made in Nirvana. Go gaga.
Obedience from First to Last explores the theological significance of the obedience of Jesus Christ in Karl Barth’s theology. It does this via a threefold consideration of, first, the nature of Jesus’ incarnate obedience; second, the relation of that obedience to the obedience of the second triune person of the eternal Son; and third, the effects Jesus’ obedience has on our own obedience. Barth not only affirms the pivotal role Jesus’ obedience has within the economy of salvation, but by equating that obedience with that of the eternal Son’s, Barth gives Jesus’ obedience a pre-eminent place within the immanent being of Godself. The obedience of Jesus Christ is seen to have a co-participatory role in God’s determination of his own divine being that arises from the primordial act of divine election. This notion bears on our understanding of freedom and obedience: as divine freedom is expressed in divine obedience, so it is with human freedom and human obedience.
Theologians working on the doctrine of creation are compelled to wrestle with Karl Barth’s explication of this doctrine. And yet, studies on Barth have not paid a significant amount of attention to this aspect of his theology. To help fill this gap, Gabriel introduces and clarifies Barth’s doctrine of creation by outlining its contours and evaluating three prominent critiques of Barth—critiques that focus on questions regarding the place of nature, the Trinity, Jesus, and history in his doctrine. Gabriel finds value in these critiques, while also identifying ways in which Barth’s theology sometimes adequately addresses them. Through this, Gabriel mines insights from Barth that can contribute to a theology of nature or ecological theology and a Trinitarian theology of creation.
This book examines the doctrines of election and atonement in Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics, taking up Barth’s own challenge to his reader to surpass his argument and offer a better typological interpretation of the cultic texts. Barth’s radical re-working of Calvin’s doctrine of election is one of the most important developments in twentieth-century theology. Christ synthesizes for Barth a particular dialectic: the binary structure of God’s Yes of election and God’s No of rejection. The book’s central question—how can Jesus simultaneously be both the elected and the rejected (CD II/2), acting as both the judge and the judged (CD IV/1)?—is followed by an exploration of the roles of the Holy Spirit and human freedom in God’s electing and saving action.
Karl Barth, widely acknowledged as the most influential theologian of the modern era, continues to provoke and inspire Christian theological reflection in a distinct and enduring way. This volume draws together scholars whose essays exhibit work “after Barth” in engaging the doctrine of the Trinity and its related themes. Barth’s thought, as evidenced amongst his most expert commentators, allows for a variety of interpretations, the details of which are being hammered out on the pages of academic journals and volumes such as this one. It is this variety of responses to and interpretations of Barth’s theology that gives such vibrancy to the essays in this volume by seasoned Barth scholars and voices new to the conversation.
Regarding Karl Barth is a distinctive engagement with the most significant elements in the theology of, arguably, the most prominent Christian thinker of the twentieth century. Through an ongoing dialogue with Barth’s writings and the views of other theologians, notably Brunner, Kung, Lindbeck, McFague, and Moltmann, Trevor Hart initiates fresh explorations of key issues from Barth’s work and shows how they continue to provide insight in our postmodern theological context. Topics covered include Scripture and revelation, the Trinity, natural theology, pluralism, justification by faith, ethics, and the nature and problems of religious language. Beginning students, thoughtful pastors, and theologians familiar with Barth will all find this book to be a clear and helpful guide to his theology.
Karl Barth was one of the most important Christian theologians of the twentieth century, but his political views have often not been taken sufficiently into account. Beginning with a representative early essay by Karl Barth, this volume proceeds with essays by Friedrich-Wilhelm Marquardt, Helmut Gollwitzer, Hermann Diem, Dieter Schellong, Joseph Bettis, and George Hunsinger. These contributions engage both the relationship of Barth’s theology to his socialist politics as well as Marquardt’s analysis. This new edition expands upon the earlier one by adding three new essays by Hunsinger on Barth’s theology and its relevance for human rights, liberation theology, and the theories of Rene Girard on violence and scapegoating. Hunsinger has extended the discussion as well as deepened our insight into how theology can speak meaningfully about fundamental issues of human need.
This work brings the critically realistic interpretation of Barth’s dialectical theology into conversation with the modern dialogue between science and theology. Philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics and logic, and considerations of the problem of rationality raised in the science and theology dialogue are brought to bear upon Barth’s theology in an attempt to explicate the rationality of his dialectical method. Its deep and abiding radical nature and character are lifted up, emphasized, and explored. The results of this study are then used to answer some long-standing criticisms of Barth. What emerges are an understanding of how Barth uses philosophy and why he declines to do philosophy. La Montagne opens the way for Barth scholars to enter into the dialogue between theology and science.
This study looks at the formation of theology as it emerges out of biography. Indeed, the biography of the theologian is the key to unlocking the meaning of his or her writings, and a valuable tool for a thorough investigation of their work. There will be a focus on the biography of Karl Barth and how this relates to his theological writings. Attention will then be turned on a group of North American theologians to analyze how Barth’s theology has influenced their personal experiences and corresponding theologies. Therefore, this book contends that there is a necessary connection to be made between the theologian as a person and the theology that emerges out of her or his unique biography. Indeed, it will be argued that theology is born out of the lived encounters of the theologian that develop into the kind of personal convictions, passions, concerns, questions, and a motivation to connect with others that is evident in her or his writing. Consequently, theology and theologian are inseparable.
It has been widely accepted that few individuals had as great an influence on the church and its theology during the twentieth century as Karl Barth (1886–1968). His legacy continues to be explored and explained, with theologians around the world and from across the ecumenical spectrum vigorously debating the doctrinal ramifications of Barth’s insights. What has been less readily accepted is that the Holocaust of the Jews had an equally profound effect, and that it, too, entails far-reaching consequences for the church’s understanding of itself and its God. In this groundbreaking book, Barth and the Holocaust are brought into deliberate dialogue with one another to show why the church should heed both their voices, and how that may be done.
Breakfast with Barth: Daily Devotions provides extracts from the writings of theologian Karl Barth. The short devotion that follows explains the meaning of Barth’s quotation in light of his overall writings. It also explores the meanings of Barth’s thought for contemporary Christian living. The goal is to introduce readers to Barth’s theology so it can be readily understood and also to see ways Barth’s theological insights—expressed in the initial quotation—can shape our beliefs and help us live the life of Christian faith in today’s world.
These essays are written by contemporary theologians who have been influenced in varying ways by Karl Barth. Many of them knew him first-hand and studied with him. Others here have read his works and learned from him through them. All have taken stock of how they have wrestled with or been shaped by Barth’s theology. At many points they have appropriated his insights; at others they have expressed their reservations. But all have met Barth’s mind and engaged it mightily. Taken together, the essays show how some present-day theologians are working and how they have responded to Barth’s views in various ways.
Karl Barth was an eminently conversational theologian, and with the Internet revolution, we live today in an eminently conversational age. Being the proceedings of the 2010 Karl Barth Blog Conference, Karl Barth in Conversation brings these two factors together in order to advance the dialogue about Barth’s theology and extend the online conversation to new audiences. With conversation partners ranging from Wesley to Žižek, from Schleiermacher to Jenson, from Hauerwas to the Coen brothers, this volume opens up exciting new horizons for exploring Barth’s immense contribution to church and world. The contributors, who represent a young new generation of academic theologians, bring a fresh perspective to a topic—the theology of Karl Barth—that often seems to have exhausted its range of possibilities. This book proves that there is still a great deal of uncharted territory in the field of Barth studies. Today, more than forty years since the Swiss theologian’s death, the conversation is as lively as ever.
Why do we see so much fruitful good in unbelievers and so much evil in believers? What could it mean for a believer that the old is “gone,” especially when it doesn’t feel that way? What does it mean for humans who are simul iustus et peccator (simultaneously righteous and sinner) to be transformed in Christ and by his Spirit? We typically think of sanctification as pertaining to humans being conformed to Jesus, but what could it mean when Jesus speaks of himself as being sanctified for our sakes (John 17:19)? Jeff McSwain mines the theology of Karl Barth to engage such questions. In looking “through the simul,” he concludes with Barth that universal human transformation is a reality before it is a possibility, and that, despite our contradictory state, we may live Spirit-filled lives as we participate in Christ’s true humanity that determines ours—a humanity which never gets old.
“Noting the difficulty of placing Karl Barth in traditional accounts of ‘Christ and culture,’ Paul Metzger argues that Barth’s incarnational christology provides the resources for a theology of culture that avoids the extremes of both divinization and secularization. This book helps us understand how Barth could say ‘Nein’ to general revelation on the one hand and ‘Ja’ to Mozart on the other. The ‘word of Christ’ is God’s critical ‘No’ to the world of culture surrounded by an even greater covenantal ‘Yes.’ Metzger’s study is a good introduction both to Barth’s theology and to the theology of culture, and it convincingly shows that the gospel of Jesus Christ, far from being otherworldly, is in fact most-worldly—the best word that the world can hear.”
—Kevin Vanhoozer, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Karl Barth’s 1922 The Epistle to the Romans is one of the most famous, notorious, and influential works in twentieth-century theology and biblical studies. It is also a famously and notoriously difficult and enigmatic work, especially as its historical context becomes more and more foreign. In this book, Kenneth Oakes provides historical background to the writing of The Epistle to the Romans, an introduction and analysis of its main themes and terms, a running commentary on the text itself, and suggestions for further readings from Barth on some of the issues it raises. The volume not only offers orientation and assistance for those reading The Epistle to the Romans for the first time, it also deals with contemporary problems in current Barth scholarship regarding liberalism, dialectics, and analogy.
This important work explores the complex relationship between two of the twentieth century’s most formidable Christian thinkers—Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Seizing on a much-discussed criticism that Bonhoeffer made of Barth’s theology in his prison letters—that Barth was guilty of a “positivism of revelation”—Andreas Pangritz challenges scholars who have used this statement, despite being left undeveloped by Bonhoeffer, as a wedge to separate the two theologians. Through a careful study of Barth’s and Bonhoeffer’s works, of their correspondence, and of Barth’s comments and revisions after Bonhoeffer’s death, Pangritz clarifies the close yet sometimes strained relationship between Barth and Bonhoeffer and cautiously makes the case that Bonhoeffer’s criticism has been overemphasized and did not mark a significant breach between the two great theologians. Much more than a study of a disputed discourse in historical theology, this engaging volume also raises concerns of continuing relevance regarding the role of theology in our secular society.
In the 1930s, Karl Barth was unquestionably the most discussed personality in the theological world of that time. This book was the first of its kind to be published in America, giving an adequate story of Barth’s life, a complete outline of his teaching, and a careful estimate of the so-called “Barthian Movement.” Dr. Pauck, of the Chicago Theological Seminary, was born and educated in Germany, and had studied under Barth. By training, personal relationship with Barth and his followers, and by a knowledge of practically everything that has been written by or about Barth, Dr. Pauck was preeminently fitted to write this book. Moreover, his American professorship allowed him to be more cognizant of the American mind, enabling him to explain Barth and his message to a puzzled, sometimes skeptical, American audience.
Despite the voluminous and ever-growing scholarly literature on Karl Barth, penetrating accounts of his theological method are lacking. In an attempt to fill this lacuna, Todd Pokrifka provides an analysis of Barth’s theological method as it appears in his treatment of three divine perfections—unity, constancy, and eternity—in Church Dogmatics, II/1, chapter VI. In order to discern the method by which Barth reaches his doctrinal conclusions, Pokrifka examines the respective roles of Scripture, tradition, and reason—the “threefold cord”—in this portion of the Church Dogmatics. In doing so he finds that for Barth Scripture functions as the authoritative source and basis for theological critique and construction, and tradition and reason are functionally subordinate to Scripture. Yet Barth employs a predominantly indirect way of relating Scripture and theological proposals, a way in which tradition and reason play important “mediatory” roles.
While human existence in time is determined by the time of Jesus Christ, by the logic of the incarnation, passion, resurrection, and ascension, the predominant accounts of time in the modern West have proceeded from a very different basis. The implications of these approaches are not just a matter of epistemology, or of abstract doctrinal and philosophical claims. Instead, they have had, and continue to have, concrete ramifications for human life together. They have overwhelmingly been death-dealing rather than life-giving, marked by a series of temporal moral errors that this book hopes to address. As a counterexample, this book reads Soren Kierkegaard alongside Karl Barth to highlight the ways that both figures rejected a Hegelian approach to time that was, and is, not coincidentally intertwined with a racialized account of history and the co-opting of Christianity by the modern Western state.
Barth has become an increasingly influential dialogue partner in the theological development of American Evangelicalism, and the study of how he has been received should provide a valuable perspective on the nature of this religious tradition. In fact, if Bernard Ramm is right, understanding how Barth has been received, and why, could play a significant role in the future of Evangelical theology. But American Evangelical theologians (and those interested in engaging them) have yet to receive a comprehensive and critical analysis of the reception of Barth within their tradition. Therefore, it will be the purpose of this study to provide such an analysis.
A passionate opponent of Nazism, Karl Barth was required to serve in the Swiss army. At the age of 54, he helped guard the Swiss border at Basel from German intruders. Some would suggest this is all we need to know in order to understand Barth’s views on Christianity and war. John Howard Yoder begged to differ. “Karl Barth and the Problem of War” is an essay in which Yoder articulates the views of his former teacher on war, these views comprising a position he refers to as “chastened non-pacifism.” Through a rigorous examination of Barth’s ethical method, Yoder seeks to show how the logic of Barth’s basic theological commitments makes him even closer to pacifism than is often noticed. Here five additional essays, three of which have never before been published, join this long essay. These essays offer further reflections on Barth’s “chastened non-pacifism,” as well as offering some of Yoder’s fruitful use of Barth’s theology for social ethics.
“I was and I am an ordinary theologian, who does not have the Word of God at his disposal, but, at best, a ‘Doctrine of the Word of God,'” writes Karl Barth in the preface of Die christliche Dogmatik im Emtwurf. Properly appreciating the complex career of Barth’s characterization of what Scripture is theologically can open up constructive lines of inquiry regarding his self-description as a theologian and reader of the Bible. By mining Barth’s published and posthumous theological and exegetical writings and sermons, both well-known materials and understudied writings such as the significant “Das Schriftprinzip der reformierten Kirche” lecture, Alfred H. Yuen offers a unique reading of Barth’s thoughts on the person and work of the biblical writers by mapping his theological career as a university student, a pastor, a writer, a young professor, and, above all, a “child of God” (CD I/1, 464-65).