Posts Tagged ‘Church Dogmatics’


In association with the Theologischer Verlag Zürich (TVZ) and Princeton Theological Seminary, Alexander Street Press is pleased to announce The Digital Karl Barth Library. This online collection will support a new generation of research into the works of one of the twentieth century’s most influential theologians.


The collection features the entire corpus of Barth’s Gesamtausgabe. Published under the TVZ imprint, this definitive edition of Barth’s works in German currently comprises 42 volumes of theological writings, lectures, letters, sermons, and interviews. As additional print volumes of the Gesamtausgabe become available, they will be added to Alexander Street’s The Digital Karl Barth Library. Also included is Barth’s magnum opus, the fourteen-volume Kirchliche Dogmatik, both in the original language and with the definitive English translation. Translations of numerous other important works by Barth are also included.

The combination of comprehensive German-language content and scholarly English translations of major works—all available in a coherent, easy-to-access online collection—make The Digital Karl Barth Library an unparalleled resource for students and scholars studying the life and thought of this modern-day “church father.”


Every document in The Digital Karl Barth Library is hand keyed and features metadata tagging specifically designed to meet the research needs of scholars. The same dedication to scholarly research has guided the development of Alexander Street’s search and presentation platform, which enables users to perform highly sophisticated searches and to view, organize, and analyze results with extraordinary speed and precision. For example, researchers can return comprehensive, accurate results in seconds for the following kinds of queries:

Find all references to suffering and tribulation in Barth’s sermons.
In Barth’s exegetical writings, identify words that occur most frequently in close proximity with the keyword λογος (logos).
Locate instances where Barth mentions Hitler in his letters.
Searching all Barth’s works, find all citations of Romans, chapter one.


The Digital Karl Barth Library is available on the Web, either by annual subscription or through a one-time purchase of perpetual rights. For pricing, trial requests, and other information, contact sales@alexanderstreet.com or download the PDF brochure for more information.

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If only Barth had finished his Church Dogmatics we would actually have this developing pneumatology.

συνεσταύρωμαι: living the crucified life

From Frank Macchia’s FB page:

A cautious but affirming response to Pentecostalism:

Barth“One could never have enough of Pentecost. This has to do with the Holy Spirit. For this reason, a little Pentecostalism — also again as salt of the earth (cf. Matt. 5:13)– cannot hurt any of us… It is quite necessary that someone draw attention to the fact that we all need the Holy Spirit. When one does that, and then something from Pentecost becomes visible again, how can we say something against it? There is nothing that can be said against it.”

– Karl Barth

(Busch, ed., Gasamtausgabe, Gesprache 1964-68, 430-32)

Someone responded:

A Barthian scholar and friend noted to me that Barth always left room for the surprising work of God, but did so only ‘out of the corner of his eye.’ Maybe that’s what he meant by ‘a little Pentecostalism.’

To which Macchia replied:


View original post 173 more words

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English: Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics in his ...

“The length of this document defends it well against the risk of being read.” – Winston Churchill

I think this likely could have been Barth’s daily mantra as he wrote his (unfinished fourteen part) Church Dogmatics. Or perhaps Churchill was familiar with Barth’s work. 🙂

If one writes enough, then there is a basic idea that very few (if any) will ever actually read all that was written and thus have little to accurately accuse one of (beyond obscure verbosity). Because, quite simply, just when the reader thinks they are grasping what has been said, there remains another compendium of explanations that so bury the ideas of the author that to dig through such mountains of material is to be lost in the mines or buried alive for delving too deeply. (Or so it seems in reading Barth).

So I guess I’m just going to stick with occasional mining for gems in the depths of Mount CD and convincing myself I have some understanding of what he has to say. And all the while I’ll stake my claim to having regularly panned the rivers of his “Evangelical Theology: An Introduction,” “Dogmatics in Outline,” and “God Here and Now” to give me a false sense of understanding his work. 🙂

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Snoopy TheologySo says Marc Vandersluys (who should be blogging this here, but instead I’m reblogging a snippet with a link 😉 ).

For many, “theology” is a field of the academic world, out of the mental reach of the average person, and not really all that valuable in day-to-day life. It’s certainly true that much of what is known as theology is often written in nearly impenetrable prose. In this respect it really is “the science of God”, because people who “do” theology for a living (I’ll call them “vocational theologians”) have created specialized terminology in order to make dialogue between vocational theologians a little simpler: they could string a bunch of verbs and adjectives together when talking about God or some concept relating to God, or they could come up with a single word that encapsulates all of them. The one-word option makes communication much less cumbersome and less confusing within the field, just like the latin names of plants and animals may be a more efficient form of communication for botanists and entomologists (or for me to say “entomologist” instead of “guy or girl who studies bugs”). But to the rest of us, this also makes theology seem like the exclusive field of vocational theologians.

But here’s the thing: theology is simply “thinking about God” or “words about God”. Theology is what we do when we try to come to grips with who God is or understand what God is doing in the world, when we ask “Who is God?” or “What is God like?”. And we all do this. All of us. Even you. When you say, “Jesus loves you,” you are doing theology; when you say “God is love,” you are doing theology; when you confess that “Jesus is Lord,” you are doing theology. Even if you say “There is no God” or “God doesn’t care about the world anymore,” you are in some sense doing theology….

Marc has quite a bit more which he shares (and you should read the rest), not least of which is why we should take care to think through doing the theology we all are doing anyways. He even manages to work in a discussion of Barth’s Church Dogmatics (which I joined him in mob-pressured purchasing…okay…so I may have been more the pressure-er rather than pressure-ee ©).  Great post Marc! Keep ’em coming!

And, yes, I did just “copyright” the terms “pressure-er” and “pressure-ee”…just protecting my personal intellectual property…or as I prefer to call it my “persintelperty” ©. Look at me…I’m a creative  etymologist. 🙂

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Karl Barth

Karl Barth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[The following was an email reply I sent to a friend inquiring about why I read Barth and believe others should, a basic discussion of what sorts of things he wrote on, and where should someone who has never read Barth begin to read]

Basically, I determined to give Barth a read after finding that it seemed EVERYONE cited him, yet in Bible college his work was treated like anathema. 🙂  As I have read fairly widely in his works now, I’ve found great joy in his thoroughly Trinitarian theological reflection that centers in the revelation of Christ Jesus.  I find this missing in most of the theology that I read (though I’ve since discovered others who follow in that similar vein).  To some extent it seems he has basically covered most any topic one might imagine (this may be a stretch, but when you write just ONE of your Dogmatics in something like 10,000 pages you’ve likely covered a LOT of ground… 😉 ).  He has been tremendously influential upon many in wider scholarship and will be read into the foreseeable future…so his writings belong to something far more enduring than many contemporary writers.  I’ve also deeply appreciated the worshipful way he writes theology…it is doxological…and I feel overwhelmed by God as enumerated in Barth’s works…which open Scripture to me afresh.  He can certainly be heady and dry at times, but I have largely found his work to be challenging mentally and spiritually encouraging me to press deeper and love God more fully.  Further, he was noted to have dealt handily with the Liberals of Europe who ruled the universities of his day.  Much of what he writes counters the theology which he was surrounded by.

As to your second question: Barth wrote three different “Dogmatics,” but finished with his Church Dogmatics which comes in 5 volumes of 14 parts.  In these he tries to set out a full fledged church theology which finds as its center the person and work of the triune God.  However, he has written on many other topics of specific theology: prayer, preaching, Christology, theologians, commentaries, etc.  His writings were all concerned with the Church in one fashion or another.

Several books that offer a great introduction to his thought and writings are:

  • Evangelical Theology: An Introduction (Eerdmans 1992, pp.219).  This is a great introduction to what is involved in doing theology and what is expected of the theologian…it is a masterful work in my opinion.
  • Dogmatics in Outline (Harper 1959, pp.160).  This slim volume is a concise intro (of sorts) to the vast work in Church Dogmatics and the task of theologizing.  It takes its structure from lectures delivered in Bonn concerning the Apostles Creed.  I have taken my congregation through this work.
  • Prayer: 50th Anniversary Edition (Westminster/John Knox 2002, pp.168).  In this book, you will find an exposition of The Lord’s Prayer as well as a number of Barth’s written prayers (which one can find other places as well), and finally several helpful essays on Barth’s contributions.

His works cover a far more wide-sweeping array, but these (I believe) are fine examples for introducing anyone to the work of Barth.

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Karl Barth

Image via Wikipedia

Reading Barth is like taking in a breath of fresh air.  One would not naturally think this should be so when reading a book with “Dogmatic” in the title (as that word has taken rather negative connotations).  Not that Barth does not create difficulty with the breathing (its quite a struggle and rather slow going working through the Latin portions).  What I found so refreshing today was the following statement: “Dogmatics must always be undertaken as an act of penitence and obedience” (CD, I.1, p.22).  I am humbled to take up the task of theology and be reminded by Barth that this task always necessarily involves “penitence”.  Any orthodox theology must recognize that in some way or another we are speaking about what we do not fully understand and may speak amiss.  Theology (“dogmatic” as well) recognizes it speaks of God…the ineffable and invisible.  While God has made Himself known in and through His Son and by His Spirit, yet we think and speak now as with distortion.  Yet by faith we make confession of what we do not fully understand and we hold to the confession of that faith in obedience…though for now we see “as through a glass darkly.”  Thank you Karl for reminding me of my need for humility in theology and confession!

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In reading Barth…one cannot help but be confronted by his notion that only God can reveal God.  For instance,

Who can reveal God except God Himself? Neither a man that has been raised up nor an idea that has come down can do it.  These are both creatures. (CD I.1 p.406)

Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach. The Protestant...

Image via Wikipedia

Barth moves from this “creatureliness” of the “idea” and “man” to the “creatureliness” of Christ who yet must be also fully God in order to actually reveal God Himself.   This is certainly not the only place where Barth argues for the necessity of God revealing God (and he follows Calvin and Luther in this).  But my question is simply what one is to make of all of this in our modern world that believes God is revealed all about us and is to be found in every culture and religion?  Certainly things have not changed so much since Barth’s day…

Luther actually postulated what he termed “deus absconditus“, that is, “the Hidden God” (altering the term from how Aquinas before him had used it) who is not open to philosophical perceptions and vague religious inclinations, but remains hidden apart from special revelation provided by God Himself.  This is what Barth speaks of.

I guess what I’m really wondering is…if we’ve perhaps lost a sense of the deus absconditus in our contemporary Church setting and if so how do we recapture this in order to recapture the glory that belongs rightly only to the One who is THE Glory and Image of the Father…He who alone makes God known?  Is our “god” too accessible by creaturely perceptions and intuitions or does our God remain yet hidden and require the revelation of Himself apart from which we can know nothing truly of Him (though we are still counted guilty of our transgressions against Him)?

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