Global Christianity Karl Barth
(1886 - 1968)
Global Christianity

Swiss reformed theologian of "neo-orthodoxy," or "crisis theology" who criticized liberalism and Nazism.

Karl Barth was born in Basel, Switzerland, and trained in liberal theology in Germany. After serving as a parish pastor during World War I, Barth could no longer subscribe to liberal optimism about the human condition. In 1922 he published his Commentary on the Romans, stressing human sin as beyond repair and God as beyond our reach. Romans is said to have "fallen like a bombshell on the playground of liberal theologians." In this and later writings, Barth dismantled Schleiermacher's interior view of religion as a feeling of absolute dependence. Instead Barth insisted that God is outside of us, "wholly other." God is not revealed by a feeling in the human heart or in social progress, but through Scripture and the preaching of it. In his 1932 Church Dogmatics, Barth argued that God's Word meets human beings in crises of judgment and mercy. Barth was expelled from Germany by the Nazis for his role in the Confessing Church. He then became a professor in Basel, Switzerland, and is remembered by many as the greatest theologian of the twentieth-century.

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