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The Significance of Barth’s Theology: An Appraisal with Special Reference to Election and Reconciliation

, 1961

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Originally presented as lectures at the Reformed Fellowship at Calvin College, The Significance of Barth’s Theology provides a general overview of Karl Barth’s theology. Fred Klooster pays specific attention to the formulation and significance of Barth’s doctrine of predestination and reconciliation. As part of his research, Klooster spent a year studying with Karl Barth—an experience that allowed him to glean more insight into Barth’s thought and present his ideas accurately.

The Logos edition of The Significance of Barth’s Theology is enhanced with amazing functionality and features. Citations link directly to English translations and original-language texts, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. The Topic Guide lets you perform powerful searches to instantly gather relevant biblical texts and resources. Tablet and mobile apps let you take the discussion with you. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Looking for more studies on Karl Barth? Check out the T&T Clark Karl Barth Collection (9 vols.).

Resource Experts
  • Examines two of the most controversial aspects of Barth’s theology
  • Charts Barth’s contribution to the doctrines of predestination and reconciliation
  • Situates Barth’s theology historically
  • The Significance of Karl Barth’s Theology
  • Karl Barth’s Doctrine of Election
  • Karl Barth’s Doctrine of Reconciliation

Top Highlights

“The occasional and reactionary character of Barth’s writing must always be recognized. He seeks constantly to overthrow the positions of his two great enemies, liberalism on the left and orthodoxy on the right.” (Pages 18–19)

“It came as a shock to him to learn that some of his esteemed teachers should endorse the German war aims, and he came to realize that a defective ethics must stem from an inadequate theology.” (Page 17)

“At the center of this system is Barth’s concept of Jesus Christ. The single source and norm of all Barth’s thought is his view of Jesus Christ, and from this source he draws all sorts of deductions for the whole of his system. The Scripture is simply the witness to that revelation, but the revelation itself is said to be Jesus Christ.” (Page 27)

“In spite of its appealing sound, the christological approach of Barth with respect to the doctrine of predestination is really a sort of natural theology based on Jesus Christ.10 Barth’s christological doctrine of predestination is in direct conflict with the very words of Scripture.” (Page 46)

“In its simplest and most comprehensive form the dogma of predestination consists, then, in the assertion that the divine predestination is the election of Jesus Christ’ (II/2, p. 103). In these words we have the heart of Barth’s doctrine of election.” (Page 52)

  • Title: The Significance of Barth’s Theology: An Appraisal with Special Reference to Election and Reconciliation
  • Author: Fred H. Klooster
  • Publisher: Baker
  • Publication Date: 1961
  • Pages: 98

John Calvin was a theologian, pastor, biblical exegete, and tireless apologist for Reformed Christianity, and ranks among the most important thinkers in church history. His theological works, biblical commentaries, tracts, treatises, sermons, and letters helped establish the Reformation as a legitimate and thriving religious movement throughout Europe. No theologian has been as acclaimed or assailed as much as Calvin. Calvinism has spawned movements and sparked controversy throughout the centuries. Wars have been fought both to defend and destroy it, and its later proponents began political and theological revolutions in Western Europe and America. The breadth and depth of the engagement with his works since they first appeared four centuries ago—and their continuous publication since then—testifies to Calvin’s importance and lasting value for the church today. Thinking Christians from the twenty-first century who ignore Calvin’s writings do so at their own peril.

John Calvin was born on July 10, 1509 in Noyan, in France. He began his work in the church at the age of twelve, intending—at the request of his father—to train for the priesthood. Calvin attended the Collège de la Marche in Paris, before studying law at the University of Orléans in 1526 and continuing his studies at the University of Bourges. In 1532, Calvin’s first published work appeared: a commentary on Seneca's De Clementia.

One year later, he befriended Nicolas Cop, the rector of the Collège Royal in Paris. This friendship resulted in trouble for Calvin when Cop was branded a heretic after calling for reform in the Catholic Church. Cop fled to Basel, and Calvin was forced from Paris. The controversy expanded when, on the evening of October 18, 1534, anonymous attacks against the Mass were posted on public buildings, fueling the violence in the city. Calvin left France for Basel in January. The controversy, and the trouble it caused Calvin, disciplined him in his writing project, and he began working on the first edition of The Institutes of the Christian Religion, which appeared in 1536.

In June, 1536, Calvin returned to Paris as the violence subsided, but was expelled again in August of 1536. He left for Strasbourg, but was forced to Geneva instead, where he stayed at the request of William Farel. He became a reader in the church in 1537. In late 1537, Calvin fled Geneva after a controversy surrounding the Eucharist. He traveled to Basel before accepting a position at the church in Strasbourg. There, Calvin continued working on both the second edition of the Institutes and his Commentary on Romans. At the urging of his friends, Calvin married Idelette de Bure. He returned to Geneva in 1541.

Upon his arrival to Geneva, Calvin began writing prolifically. He continued his revisions to the Institutes, preached weekly, taught the Bible during the week, and delivered lectures on theology. Calvin also continued work on his New Testament commentaries.

His return to Geneva was not without controversy, however. He faced opposition from the libertines, who, in 1552, compromised his authority and nearly succeeded in banishing him from Geneva a second time. His greatest threat, however, came from his theological antagonist, Servetus. The frequent letters between Calvin and Servetus contain elements of their tenuous relationship, which were exacerbated when Servetus visited Geneva against Calvin’s orders, publically denied the Trinity, and disgraced the church. He was condemned for heresy and executed.

By 1553, Calvin was praised for his work in uniting Geneva and securing the future of the Reformation. The church housed refugees from England—among them John Knox—who brought the Reformed faith to England. Calvin also sent more than 100 Reformed missionaries to France, and frequently corresponded with both political leaders and second generation Reformers throughout Europe. He also founded a school in Geneva, and Theodore Beza became its first rector. Calvin’s influence quickly expanded beyond the vicinity of Geneva.

During the 1550s, Calvin’s health began to decline, prompting him to undertake a final revision and expansion of The Institutes of the Christian Religion. It was published in 1559, and was immediately reprinted and translated throughout Europe. Calvin became ill in early 1564, and preached his last sermon on February 6 of that same year. His health worsened throughout the spring, and he died on May 27. Thousands flocked to view his body, forcing the council in Geneva to bury him in an unmarked grave.


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  1. M. David Johnson
  2. Randy Lane

    Randy Lane


  3. CSL



    I'm not surprised to see such good reviews of this book (not sure what happened with Rob). Just finished it and I feel like I finally understand Barth. Excellent distillation and explanation of the major themes and contexts of Barth's theology coupled with extensive and extended quotes from Barth himself. That alone would be enough to satisfy, but Klooster (a personal student of Barth no less) goes on to provide a brief but excellent appraisal of Barth from a biblical, historical theological, and Reformed perspective, as well as a comparison of Barth's theology with the Bultmanian liberalism he was supposed to be combating. Bottom line, if you want to understand Barth, his influence, and his context, this is the best place to start.
  4. Dustin Payne

    Dustin Payne


  5. AeliusCicero



  6. Larry Proffitt
  7. Rob



  8. Doug




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