Karl Barth, a Swiss Reformed theologian, is often thought of as the best Protestant theologian of the 20th century. Starting with his time as a pastor, he rejected the liberal theology that was common in Protestantism in Europe in the 19th century. He became a leader in the German Confessing Church, which fought against Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. In particular, he and other members of the movement worked hard to stop the Nazis from taking over the existing church and turning it into a state church run by the regime. He wrote the Barmen Declaration, which was a harsh attack on Christians who helped the Nazis. His most well-known works are “The Epistle to the Romans,” which was a clear break from his earlier ideas, and “Church Dogmatics,” which has thirteen volumes and is one of the largest systematic theological works ever written. The most important thing he did was change the direction of theology in a big way. In the 19th century, theology was focused on progress, but in the 20th century, especially after World War II, it had to deal with the harsh realities of life. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who, like Barth, became a leader in the Confessing Church, Thomas Torrance, Reinhold Niebuhr, Stanley Hauerwas, Jürgen Moltmann, and novelists John Updike and Miklós Szentkuthy were all greatly influenced by him.
Early years and childhood
Karl Barth was born on May 10, 1886, in Basel, Switzerland, to Johann Friedrich “Fritz” Barth and Anna Katharina (Sartorius) Barth. Johann Friedrich “Fritz” Barth was a theology professor and pastor who had a big impact on his son’s life.
Barth went to school for theology in Bern, Berlin, Tübingen, and Marburg from 1904 to 1909. He went to school with Adolf von Harnack and Wilhelm Herrmann, and the works of Friedrich Schleiermacher interested him.
Karl Barth’s Career
Barth was a parish minister from 1911 to 1921. Barth was shocked when many of his teachers signed on to the German government’s war plans soon after World War I began.
Liberal theology couldn’t stand up to culture, and many of his teachers had given up on the gospel. Disappointed, he reread and reinterpreted the Bible to find a completely new theological foundation.
After World War I, he became a part of a movement in Protestantism called Dialectical Theology. This movement put a lot of emphasis on God’s own words as the source of Christian doctrine.
In 1922, he wrote a book called “The Epistle to the Romans” about Paul’s letter to the Romans. In this book, he said that anyone who tries to link God to human cultures, achievements, or things is wrong.
The Barmen declaration was the first thing that the Confessing Church agreed on. He was chosen to be a member of its leadership council, the Bruderrat, and he fought against the government’s plans to turn the German Protestant church into a Nazi church.
In 1935, he was fired from his job as a professor at the University of Bonn because he wouldn’t swear an oath to Hitler. He became a professor of systematic theology at the Switzerland’s University of Basel.
In his 1938 book, “The Holy Spirit and the Christian Life,” he says that God shows himself to us in three different ways, but in a way that can’t be broken apart.
After World War II, he worked with churches outside of Germany to help Germans apologize and make peace. He wrote the Darmstadt Statement with Hans-Joachim Iwand in 1947. This was a statement of German guilt and responsibility for the War.
The Darmstadt Statement said that the Church’s willingness to work with conservative and anti-socialist groups led to the rise of Nazism. In the Cold War scenario, anti-Communists in the West who backed remilitarization disagreed with this statement.
When he was asked to come back to Bonn, he gave a series of lectures that were published in 1947 as Dogmatics in Outline. These lectures were similar to how the Apostle’s Creed describes the Christian faith.
The book “Deliverance to the Captives” by Karl Barth was published in 1961. It is a collection of sermons, most of which were given at a prison in Basel, Switzerland, to spread the gospel message as it was shown by Christ.
In 1962, he went to the United States. While there, he gave talks at Princeton Theological Seminary and the University of Chicago.
Works of note
In his 1922 book, “The Epistle to the Romans,” he wrote about how important it was that revelation and salvation came from God and not from people. Like existentialist thought, it focused on the difference between God and people.
Barth’s thirteen-volume magnum opus, “Church Dogmatics,” came out in stages from 1932 to 1967. He said that the Christian doctrine was all about Jesus and that Jesus was the one and only Word of God.
Personal History and Legacies
Karl Barth married Nelly Hoffmann, who was a good violinist, in 1913. They had one daughter and four sons. Markus Barth, who studies the New Testament, was one of their sons.
Barth asked his student Charlotte von Kirschbaum to move in with him and his family. This made his wife angry, and the stress in the family was hard on the kids.
He died in Basel on December 10, 1968, when he was 82 years old.
In 1997, the Center for Barth Studies was set up at Princeton Theological Seminary. Its purpose is to support research about his work, and it has almost all of his works in both English and German.
Estimated Net worth
Karl is one of the wealthiest religious writers and is on the list of the most popular religious writers. Based on what we’ve found on Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider, Karl Barth’s net worth is about $1.5 million.
This Swiss theologian said, “Jesus doesn’t give directions to God as other religious teachers do. He is the way himself.”
While on a trip to the U.S., this theologian answered a question by saying, “I know Jesus loves me because the Bible says so.”