Thoughts on Reading Barth’s Church Dogmatics

Karl BarthI did it. I finally did it. I read the entire Church Dogmatics by Karl Barth. What’s the big deal? This is no simple systematic theology. It is the size of an encyclopedia set. And I read it as a part of my devotions, mostly reading two pages at a time.

This is not a review of Church Dogmatics, as I don’t feel qualified to do that. But I thought I would share some thoughts.

I did like Barth’s understanding of the Word of God. He saw the Word in three ways: Christ, the Bible and the proclamation of God’s truth in a worship setting. All three of these themes appear over and over in his work.

Barth was a product of German liberal scholarship. While he reacted against it, he also embraced some of their conclusions. As far as Barth was concerned, it didn’t matter if the higher critics were correct, God would meet us in the reading of the Word no matter what process got the Bible to us.

Barth was critical of Christian apologetics. But by apologetics, he mean something specific: natural theology. He believed that the God you got to by that process was not the God of the Bible.

I was surprised to discover that Barth at one time, actually considered Jesus mythicism after reading Arther Drews.

What I most of all noticed was that Barth was a man of faith who had a love for Scripture. His writing style might have been a bit rambling and he had the tendency to write multi-page paragraphs. But none of that matters. I might not agree with all of Barth’s conclusions and do not self-identify as a Barthian but I’m thankful for the impact he has had on Christian theology.


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