Talk:Karl Barth

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Theology ...[edit]

... is such a sad thing upon which to waste an otherwise good philosophical mind. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 137.200.1.109 (talk) 22:38, 9 June 2016 (UTC)

Bonhoeffer[edit]

Why isn't bonhoeffer mentioned in this article? The bonhoeffer vs barth dialog is one of the most well know aspects about both people. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 216.64.167.250 (talk) 19:55, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is mentioned now, in the eleventh line of this article.Carltonio (talk) 22:21, 12 March 2017 (UTC)

Needs work on Theology and Bibliography[edit]

Paul foord 08:15, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

Quotations[edit]

I had added the quote "I take the Bible far too seriously to take it literally.", but since I could not find a source attributing this directly to Barth, I have removed it. It is certainly one of his more famous arguments and should be considered for this article.

I think that's Tillich. Barth does say in the Preface to the 2nd ed. of the Romans commentary that he thinks the Bible is a very good book and people should take its ideas at least as seriously as they take their own. One might see it as a similar point, since he wrote this in response to people who had called him a "Positiv" (i.e., a fundamentalist).Mtalleyrand (talk) 01:46, 31 May 2008 (UTC)

Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page without content in them (see the help page). == Doggerel == A reporter once asked Barth if he could summarize what he had said in his lengthy Church Dogmatics. Barth thought for a moment and then said: "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."

Was Barth reciting doggerel in English, or is this some kind of loose translation of the German? john k 04:28, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

I'd always taken it to be a citation from the hymn "Jesus loves me" [1] by Anna Warner (1860). There is a German version: "Jesus liebt mich, ganz gewiss / Denn die Bibel sagt mir dies", which I think was published in Germany in Philipp Bickel's Singvögelein (1874), which became a very popular children's songbook.--mahigton 08:00, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

This should be clarified in the text then. It seems odd that a German would be reciting a rhyming English verse. john k 13:49, 26 October 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, I was being misleading. As I recall, the story is that it was when he was visiting America in the '60s that he was asked the question by a reporter, and replied in English. My suggestion is that his likely knowledge of the German version makes the story less implausible: he could, perhaps, have looked up the English in preparation for just such a question. But I have no idea whether the story is actually true or not.--mahigton 07:54, 27 October 2006 (UTC)
I've heard this story a few times, and I'd love to hear some evidence that it's true, but to be honest it really sounds like an urban myth - the kind of thing that tends to turn up around iconic figures (the amount of quotes that are attributable to Einstein, for example). If there's no evidence that it ever happened - and it doesn't seem that anyone has presented any - should it not just be removed? TheologyJohn 16:56, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
I have known quite well several people who were present. I am therefore very confident that this interaction did happen in Miller Chapel at Princeton Seminary, but I do not know offhand of a published source for it. I will check into it.Mtalleyrand (talk) 01:44, 31 May 2008 (UTC)
I found a citation for the quote: Mark Galli and Ted Olsen, Eds. 131 Christians Everyone Should Know (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2000), 49.

Life[edit]

As is well known, a Christian is not judged only by his theology, but first by his life. Thus, the article should mention his second family. --Leandro GFC Dutra 18:49, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

Have you a problem with that? We live by grace not by our own justice, even if we are theologians
To judge someone is to take the seat of God —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.204.70.210 (talkcontribs)

Interesting. This is my first post in Wikipedia. I used to be a Christian, and am reading here because, well, while I no longer believe, I have nothing better. So, KB had a second family, huh? And 86.204.70.210 implies that this is irrelevant for a page entitled "Karl Barth"? I fee that, as is implied by Leandrod, his having a second family may be more important, on this page, than his theological writings. Seems to me that the concepts of not placing a stumbling block, or of more being required of those to whom much is given may apply here. Anyway, I now live in Utah, and I can tell you that thee are many here who would find hypocrisy in a “fundamentalist” (or at least non-LDS, let’s not quibble here) theologian who had two wives being “respected” at all. They were run out of town (and killed) and told that their practice with multiple wives disqualified them from any serious consideration as Christians.

Oops...the "Interesting" comment is by me Lost12345 23:18, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

'Second family'? I presume this refers to Barth's relationship with Charlotte von Kirschbaum. You can find info in Charlotte von Kirschbaum and Karl Barth: A Study in Biography and the History of Theology by Suzanne Selinger (Pennslyvania State University Press, 1998). It seems clear that Barth's close relationship with von Kirschbaum was an embarrassment and even a humiliation to his wife; it seems equally clear that there were elements in Barth's relationship with von Kirschbaum that bordered on the exploitative. It is not so clear whether they were lovers - all we have is rumour and speculation, and scraps of ambiguous evidence. So rather than saying 'he had a second family', you might hit the nail more firmly on the head if you say 'he treated his wife pretty shoddily, and his secretary too'. I don't say this to let him off the hook - this bad treatment is clearly a more serious moral issue than whether or not he and his secretary happen to have had sex.
Does all this matter for his theology? Yes and no. Yes, in that all theology is written by sinners, and it is important to remember that when reading it - to read critically and thoughtfully, and with an eye to the places where the author deludes himself and his readers. But if you think that theologians can be divided up into those who were sinners and those who were saints, with only the writings of the latter being of value, you'll soon not have anything to read.--mahigton 10:09, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

"...you'll soon not have anything to read". Yes, that is a good point. But now the one we are discussing. We are not talking about "reading" or "accepting" him. We are talking about entries to a page entitled "Karl Barth". Anyway, if it isn’t clear exactly what he did, my though is that either it should not be mentioned, or that both positions (he did, he didn't) should be given equal weight. One problem with "all we have is rumor and speculation, and scraps of ambiguous evidence" is that, well, what do we "know" about Shakespeare? And, what do we “know” Hitler knew about poison gassing in the camps. Seems to me that KB is so contemporary that somebody “knew” if he spent the night there or not. But, yes, you are suspecting that there is more behind my fascination with this. This is a bit off topic (and I don’t really know the rules here), but I just find it fascinating how on the one hand, we excuse Christian hypocrisy by reminding that Christians sinning is part of the dogma. But, on the other, to wave it off so casually seems to insult the questions that young Christians struggle with… I mean, if it’s as “unimportant” and even “by definition” as you imply (even to the point of not even mentioning it), man, my youth would have been a whole lot easier…. And, if no one can really live a chaste life, well, what are we really preaching…Lost12345 17:20, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, I should have been clear. I'm all for this being discussed on the page (though I don't know enough to make the changes confidently myself). I do think it needs to be done cautiously, though, because I do think that the evidence is ambiguous in this case - as you say, the page should have the case for and the case against; and it should certainly avoid the claim that Barth had a 'second family', which was what we seemed to be heading for - he might, or might not, have had a long-running affair. My memory is that the Selinger book (which I think is the only substantial study on this? but I may be out of date, or my memory might be wrong - I only ever skimmed it) leaves it pretty open as to whether they slept together, but it would be the obvious source to mine for the major arguments. I don't urge caution because I want to save Barth's blushes, or my own as someone who reads him. As I say, I think that the much more serious case against Barth is already proved: his relationship with von Kirschbaum, whatever its nature, humiliated his wife - and he must have known that it did, and yet he carried on with it long term. For my money, that's a much more serious sin than sleeping with someone - and I don't say that to 'wave it off ... casually', but quite seriously. Since when did we get the idea that sex mattered more than love? But anyway, the wider question is not about whether we excuse him or not - I don't excuse him; I think he was wrong on this, and culpably so - but what it does to our reception of his work. And that's the parallel I'd draw with advice to 'young Christians': not 'You're bound to fail, so don't sweat', but 'If you do fail - and you might, and you wouldn't be the first - then it doesn't invalidate everything positive you've done. It doesn't prove that you're flawed to the core, and can simply be dismissed. Look, Barth was a sinner - and yet produced stuff that is really good!' But this is turning into a sermon, and I'm pretty sure that must violate some kind of Wikipedia guideline!--mahigton 19:23, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

Something that might be of interest to y'all is a 2000 review essay of Selinger's book by Katherine Sonderegger (a religion professor at Middlebury): http://scdc.library.ptsem.edu/mets/mets.aspx?src=PSB2000212&div=9.The Ancient Mariner 17:43, 20 February 2007 (UTC)


Is Barth a Calvinist?[edit]

... and should he appear on Template:Calvinism? Please see the discussion at Template_talk:Calvinism#Barth_and_Reformed_Baptists. --Flex (talk|contribs) 13:03, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

Definitely not calvinistic in his doctrine of election (as I understand it). He may have been influenced by Calvin in other regards though, as would be most likely for a Swiss Reformed theologian. But he may have been more influenced by Kierkegarrd (Francis Schaeffer's understanding of him) than Calvin, it all depends what is meant by "calvinist"? User:DMSBel|DMSBel]] (talk) 17:05, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Neutrality[edit]

I tagged the section on liberals and conservatives as non-neutral. All of it needs work, but the recent additions by User:Mtstroud seem particularly non-neutral:

More simply stated, many North American Christians simply have no frame of reference to grasp Barth's dialectical approach, coming as they do from a culture shaped by pragmatism and propositional reasoning. It is noteworthy in this respect that only one major U.S. theologian, Donald Bloesch, has consistently sought to bridge the two viewpoints in his writings, largely aimed toward conservative pastors of "mainline" Protestant groups.

That's original research at best. --Flex (talk|contribs) 22:55, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Point well taken. I have deleted the offending paragraph.Mike 23:06, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Thanks! (Humility is a hard virtue to find on the Wikipedia, but it's nice to see it practiced.) If the rest of that paragraph is based on a reliable source or two, could you add citations? --Flex (talk|contribs) 02:27, 1 April 2007 (UTC)


I believe the neutrality of this same section is still to be questioned, particularly the third paragraph, which I have included below:

It is entirely possible to view this point of contention between Barthian neo-orthodoxy and evangelical inerrantism as mainly reflecting a centuries-old theological, political geographical divide between Barth's Continental (mainly German) Protestant traditions of disciplined exegesis and ecclesiology inherited from the Reformation on the one hand, and the dichotomous rationalist and emotional strands of thought that bring cyclic periods of violent theological upheaval and subsequent backlashes within churches descended from the British Isles (including most evangelical groupings) on the other.

This displays an obvious bias against conservative and evangelical theologicals views. -- All_is_Silent

Taught at Duke?[edit]

The Later Life section says that Barth taught at Duke. I don't believe that this is true. The article cited says that his name was on a list of Displaced German Scholars, but not that he was one of the six such scholars hired to teach at Duke.

If no one objects, I plan to delete the offending sentence. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Esrogs (talkcontribs) 06:45, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

Agreed: go ahead and delete.--mahigton 07:55, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

Pope Pius XII View of Karl Barth[edit]

Pope Pius XII gave an audience to Karl Barth in 1943 and he stated that he was "the greatest christian theologian since St. Thomas Aquinas". I think these facts should be mentioned in the article.Mistico (talk) 00:01, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

I added this quotation in the first paragraph, along with another from John Webster, a well-known Barth interpreter who teaches at the University of Aberdeen. Donotbeafraid (talk) 04:41, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:Karl Barth.jpg[edit]

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BetacommandBot (talk) 22:31, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

Comment[edit]

I took out the ridiculous statement that Barth is the 'father of Neo-Orthadoxy'. Whatever that weak-minded term means it is certainly not something which Barth spawned, and it bears noting that the term was invented by Barth's most ignorant and mean-spirited critic(Van Til) who created the term as a dismissive insult to Barth. Futher, Barth himself rejected the titled and expressed complete exasperation at the American Fundamentalists (especially Van Til's) criticisms. Barth chose not to address their critiques, noting that one can't discuss theology with those who are disingenuous in their dialogue, and calling them theological 'cannibals'.

I mostly agree with this, but would point out that Paul Tillich had called Barth "neo-orthodox" (for being too conservative!) eleven years before Van Til picked it up in an opposite sense.Mtalleyrand (talk) 01:52, 31 May 2008 (UTC)

Recent changes[edit]

I added a section on KB's doctrine of election relying mostly on his exposition of the doctrine in II/2. I tried to explicate his POV while acknowledging the common objection that he courts universalism here. I also changed the opening paragraph to include Pope Pius' assessment of his work--saying 'he's an important Christian thinker' is not as strong as the concrete judgment by an important Christian leader that he might be the most important thinker in 800 years of church history. This statement deserves to be in the opening paragraph, not just a footnote. Donotbeafraid (talk) 15:42, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

Also: I just said 'others' have charged Barth with universalism. If anyone's got a concrete reference for someone charging him with universalism, feel free to add the reference. Donotbeafraid (talk) 15:44, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

I added a section on KB's relationship with von Kirschbaum. Tried to be NPOV. Feel free to add or change.

Also, there are now several references on this page citing sources. Can we remove the 'no citations' header? Donotbeafraid (talk) 22:32, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

Done. --Flex (talk/contribs) 02:30, 2 March 2008 (UTC)
My opinion is Karl Barth's greatest insight and contribution was his theological position of the Godhead. Had he been at the Nicene Council the standard Trinitarian doctrine, as expounded by Roman Catholic sources, would not be the modern norm. It takes insight and a careful read to digest his position in this area.
CWatchman (talk) 02:13, 4 March 2008 (UTC)
Can you add a section on that (preferably with reliable sources so that it doesn't appear to be just your opinion about Barth's work)? --Flex (talk/contribs) 21:45, 4 March 2008 (UTC)

The article claims that Barth rejected biblical inerrancy, and draws conclusions from this claim. I believe this to be, at best, original research, and quite possibly simply false. The most that can be said, I believe, is that people like Van Til alleged that he had denied inerrancy. Unless someone adds a citation documenting that this allegation is true, I intend to edit this paragraph accordingly.Mtalleyrand (talk) 01:56, 31 May 2008 (UTC)

I made these changes.Mtalleyrand (talk) 12:32, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

Antisemitism[edit]

Karl Barth, not surprisingly for his time and place, was antisemitic. I've come across several quotes of his from the 30s and the 40s that attest to this. While thoroughly anti-Nazi, he was not pro-Jew. To paint a fuller picture of Barth, I think this should be included in his wikipedia entry. However, I'm new to editing wikipedia, and I'm not sure if these additions would be deleted right away. Any thoughts? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.36.201.154 (talk) 17:03, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

There's a fairly long digression in vol. II of the Church Dogmatics about why anti-Semitism is wrong; you're going to have to take that into consideration before you make any definitive statements. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 76.123.4.36 (talk) 01:47, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
I think if you are going to claim Barth was "antisemitic" you're going to have to give precise quotes and context for those quotes.Commonthings (talk) 22:25, 28 June 2010 (UTC)
Basically they would be deleted right away (and quite properly) not because it would be wrong to quote whatever the statements are (provided they are not taken out of context)- but because not being pro-Jew (in your opinion), does not necessarily equate to being anti-semitic. You would also need to be familiar with the whole body of his writings to know for sure if he was anti-semitic or not, a few quotes in themselves will not suffice for such a claim - There would need to be substantial agreement (not merely from wikipedia editors I hasten to add) but from other commentators that those quotes were antisemitic in context. If the quotes (in context) are anti-semitic I think there would be some critical response to them from Jewish commentators and other theologians at the time, if that exists then discuss it further here. DMSBel (talk) 16:41, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

children[edit]

The article mentions that the New Testament scholar Markus Barth was Karl Barth's son. Wasn't the Old Testament scholar Hermann Barth (known especially for his influential work on the composition of the Book of Isaiah) also his son? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.172.48.58 (talk) 19:32, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

Old Testament scholar Christoph Barth was Barth's son. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 47.33.186.247 (talk) 02:08, 10 January 2017 (UTC)

Righteous Among the Nations?[edit]

If K.B. really obtained that award shouldn't there be more about i in the article? Usually the award was obtained at great risk V. Joe (talk) 15:40, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

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Term neo-orthodoxy[edit]

The article says that "Many have referred to Barth as the father of neo-orthodoxy" and then goes on to say Barth rejected this term. Should this sentence be re-written to read "Although ...."

Why more charitable?[edit]

Why is it more charitable to describe Barth's theology as a theology of the word than as neo-orthodox theology?Vorbee (talk) 15:58, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

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