Karl Barth


#1

My pastor gave a homily and mentioned Karl Barth in a positive light (he did mention he was protestant). Is he worth reading? Anything to steer clear from?

Thanks.


#2

Reading a Catholic saint would be a much better use of time. Sure, they may be some good protestant theologians, but they will contain error somewhere (otherwise they wouldnt be protestant!) So if you’re gonna spend time reading, why not read something from someone whom you know made it to heaven? I personally suggest anything by St Alphonsus Liguori. I can’t tell you how much he has improved my relationship with God! His writings (and intercession) are beautiful! In fact, EWTN has one of his best writings available for free online.


#3

Barth is a very well respected Protestant theologian from the 1930’s and 40’s. I’ve tried to read his work and it’s too dense for my meager brain, but from what I can tell he was a really sharp tack. All I really remember is that it was about the fallacy of “cheap grace”. My understanding is that he also believed that in the end everyone would be saved.

He was a pacifist, but when faced with the realities of Nazism he revised his view and ended up being hanged for his involvement in a plot to asassinate Hitler. I know a bunch of Protestants who say that his letters from prison are worth reading.

I imagine that there’s gold to be found in his works, but you’d have to mine for it carefully to separate it the Protestant background and it’s probably not anything that you can’t find in Catholic writings. I’ve decided that my time would be better spent reading the Doctors of the Church.


#4

I think it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was in on the plot against Hitler and who was hanged. The letters being reffered to were also authored by Bonhoeffer. He was a Lutheran and did talk about cheap grace in the sense that being a Christian involves more than belief or belonging to a church. It involves committed action against evil no matter the cost in this life. I don’t know much about Barth except people talked a lot about him during the mid-60’s to mid 70’s.


#5

[quote=neophyte]Barth is a very well respected Protestant theologian from the 1930’s and 40’s. I’ve tried to read his work and it’s too dense for my meager brain, but from what I can tell he was a really sharp tack. All I really remember is that it was about the fallacy of “cheap grace”. My understanding is that he also believed that in the end everyone would be saved.

He was a pacifist, but when faced with the realities of Nazism he revised his view and ended up being hanged for his involvement in a plot to asassinate Hitler. I know a bunch of Protestants who say that his letters from prison are worth reading.

I imagine that there’s gold to be found in his works, but you’d have to mine for it carefully to separate it the Protestant background and it’s probably not anything that you can’t find in Catholic writings. I’ve decided that my time would be better spent reading the Doctors of the Church.
[/quote]

I think that you’re confusing Karl Barth with Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Blessings,


#6

[quote=rwoehmke]I think it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was in on the plot against Hitler and who was hanged. The letters being reffered to were also authored by Bonhoeffer. He was a Lutheran and did talk about cheap grace in the sense that being a Christian involves more than belief or belonging to a church. It involves committed action against evil no matter the cost in this life. I don’t know much about Barth except people talked a lot about him during the mid-60’s to mid 70’s.
[/quote]

This is correct. Barth was a Reformed theologian.

Blessings,


#7

[quote=Dandelion_Wine]My pastor gave a homily and mentioned Karl Barth in a positive light (he did mention he was protestant). Is he worth reading? Anything to steer clear from?

Thanks.
[/quote]

Karl Barth was a Reformed theologian whose most famous work is his “Church Dogmatics” – twelve very densly written volumes of the most important Protestant systematic theology since Calvin. He was a champion of neo-orthodox theology, standing in sharp contrast to the German liberal theololgy which had become pervasive in Protestant circles. He definitely operated from a distinctly Reformed perspective – not Lutheran, but there is much in his works in which a Catholic might find value.

This being said, rather than reading Barth, if you want to do some serious theological reading, I would highly recommend Hans Urs von Balthasar – a 20th century Catholic theologian championed by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Von Balthasar uses some similar starting points as Barth – but in a thoroughly Catholic direction .

If you are interested, please PM me, and I can suggest some good reading.

Blessings,


#8

I agree about Von Balthasar. Very good stuff. I’d also recommend Henri de Lubac. He’s incredible…Joseph Ratizinger wrote the introduction to a reprinting of his work Catholicism:Christ and the Common Destiny of Man.

I find both Von Balthazar and de Lubac challenging, but definitely worthwhile and definitely orthodox.

Joel


#9

Karl Barth is a swiss theologian known for his stance against Protestant modernism.

-He disliked apologetics as much as modernism.
-Barth is connected with “Neo-orthodoxy” .
-He asserted that the miraculous events of the Gospel (virgin birth, resurrection) took place in “meta” history. Meaning, they were not historicially “testable” for inquiry. Therefore could not be verified without prior belief in them.
-Therefore it is the faith of the believer that supports his/her views in the first place, and thus using the Word of God to witness to an unbeliever should not be done.
-Accepted the “higher critical” method of biblical studies.

Barth offers a Christ in a history that we are not able to verify.


#10

Karl Barth is a heretic. Look at what he has said about Holy Mother Church (Church Dogmatics):

[LIST]
*]“Wherever Mary is venerated, and devotion to her takes place, there the Church of Christ does not exist.”
*]“Catholic mariology is a cancer, a sick theological development, and cancers should be cut out.”
*]“The heresy of the Catholic Church is its mariology and Marian cult.”
[/LIST]
He also called the uniquely Catholic doctrine of analogia entis—that we can understand God in analogy to created material things {viz., that we can only know God here below on earth with analogical knowledge (cognitio analoga or analogica), not proper (cognitio propria) knowledge}—the “invention of anti-Christ” (cf. Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma pg. 19 and K. J. Johnson’s Analogia Entis*Karl Barth and the *), opposing, e.g., Dz. 1785. Barth also opposed child-Baptism (cf. Ott’s idem pg. 359).


#11

I wouldn’t think it to be appropriate to call Karl Barth a heretic. You have to remember that he was a theologian of the Reform (Calvinist/Presbyterian) tradition. So what he wrote will be a little different in some cases If you are new to the works of theologians and want to seek to understand your faith better, I suggest starting with the works of Catholic theologians. Folks have already mentioned von Balthasar and Henri de Lubac. You might find Karl Rahner and Yves Congar of use in your study of Catholic theology, also. Rahner and Barth used to listen to one another’s radio presentations in Germany and then call the other to discuss ideas presented when the show was finished.


#12

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