This introduction acts as an efficient entry point into the philosophy and writings of a great thinker. The fast-paced narrative describes Barth’s early life, his background, and the political context in which his thinking took shape. In a comprehensive but clear way, this volume provides the reader with an overview of this theologian’s crowning work, Church Dogmatics, and a true sense of the richness of Karl Barth’s thought.
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“God, for Barth, is ever active; God has chosen to reveal himself in the Word, and it is only through the Word that God can be known.” (Page 53)
“God is objectively known only to himself, but makes himself known mediately, not immediately, to humankind.” (Page 68)
“The key to the concept of ‘derivation’ is the doctrine of election. In creating man as man, God has eternally decided for him, and in so doing affirmed his ‘Yes’ to creation, an affirmation that became manifest in the Incarnation and atoning sacrifice of Christ: ‘To be a man is to be with Jesus … to be with the One who is the true and primary elect of God’ (CD III/2 145). Christ is the effective enactment of the purpose through which human beings exist.” (Page 85)
“What Barth is striving to say is that God ever preserves his primary objectivity, though allowing himself to be known in a secondary objectivity, namely, in Christ. The knowledge of God is God’s to give and not something that can be manipulated or controlled by anyone else. In other words, it is given to us as an act of grace and can only be known by faith.” (Page 69)
“What now struck Barth with enormous force was that the God to whom the Bible witnessed was complete in himself, wholly independent of human appropriation, only accessible through himself by allowing himself to be known. In other words, in order for God to be known at all, a process of self-revelation would have to occur.” (Page 18)
D. Densil Morgan combines a historian’s eye for significant details with a pastor’s love of theological wisdom in this engaging introduction to Karl Barth. Laypersons, seminarians, and students of theology will find here a very faithful and readable portrayal of Barth’s towering theological vision, as well as the unique historical crises from which it arose.
—Thomas John Hastings, director of research, Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton
This really is a readable, accessible introduction that takes account of some of the most recent Barth scholarship. It is highly recommended for those coming to Barth’s work for the first time.
—Oliver D. Crisp, professor of systematic theology, Fuller Theological Seminary
Of the many introductions to Barth, this ranks as one of the best. The clarity and ease of its exposition of Barth’s life and thought are exceptional, as is its alertness to the deep impulses of Barth’s theology. As the book guides readers through the great sweeps of Barth’s arguments, it conveys the excitement and provocation which his work generates. Novices and seasoned readers alike will gain a great deal from this generous and perceptive account.
—John Webster, professor, University of Aberdeen