Christian Cyclopedia

About the Cyclopedia

Barth, Karl

(1886–1968). B. Basel, Switz.; educ. Bern, Berlin, Tübingen, Marburg; asst. pastor Geneva 1909, Safenwil (Aargau canton) 1911; prof. Göttingen, Münster, Bonn, Basel. Influenced by K. G. A. v. Harnack,* neo-Kantians, socialism, S. A. Kierkegaard.*

Attacked attempts to fit the Christian message into man's preconceptions. Tried to keep Christianity from becoming an ideology, i. e. a product of culture. Opposed identifying human conclusions with Word of God and thereby destroying revelation. Held that theol. reflecting soc. and cultural situations lost its critical and prophetic role and that identification of a Weltanschauung (comprehensive conception of the world) with the Word of God rejected justification by grace.

Rejected natural theol. and the analogia* entis of Thomas* Aquinas; held the analogy of faith and, with Anselm* of Canterbury, a fides quaerens intellectum (faith leads, reason follows). God is “wholly other.” Interpretation of Scripture should not compromise with modern thought. Rejected metaphysical bases of theol. but used logical and linguistic aspects of philos. Regarded “religion” as a human product and distinguished it from revelation.

His theol. emphasizes a Christocentric approach to predestination. The work of Christ presupposes the work of the Father and has the work of the Spirit as a consequence. Beginning ca. 1925 he emphasized deus dixit (Lat. “God said”) from a Calvinistic point of view.

Stressed importance of dogmatics in the ch. its main function: to evaluate preaching. Dogmatics itself is tested by Scripture. Barth did not identify the Bible with the Word of God but stressed that it is a witness to the Word. His concept of relationship bet. Spirit and Word vitalizes Calvinism: when we hear the Word the Holy Spirit comes to us.

Works include Der Römerbrief; Die kirchliche Dogmatik; Fides quaerens intellectum; Das Wort Gottes und die Theologie; Dogmatik im Grundriss; Nein! Antwort an Emil Brunner; Die christliche Lehre nach dem Heidelberger Katechismus; Evangelium und Gesetz; Christengemeinde und Bürgergemeinde. EL

See also Barmen Theses; Dialectical Theology; East Asia Mission, German; Existentialism, 1; Holiness, 3; Kerygmatic Theology; Neoorthodoxy; Philosophy of Religion; Switzerland, Contemporary Theology in, 3–8.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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