Karl Barth

Mark Galli

Mark Galli, long-time editor for Christianity Today, call this “An Introductory Biography for Evangelicals.” I had not read much on Barth, and so it was quite interesting to me to see the basic overview of his life and thought.

Widely considered the greatest theologian of the 20th century, Barth did most of his work in the middle decades of the century. After being educated by German theological liberals, he became disenchanted with that theology and began to write against it. His commentary on the Book of Romans hit the theological world of Europe like a bombshell. Though he was Swiss, he spent several decades in Germany, and opposed Hitler from the start.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer considered Barth a mentor and they were also friends. Before the outbreak of World War II, Barth lost his job in Germany because of his opposition to the Nazis and returned to his native Switzerland.

Some of the quotes by Barth in the book surprised me with their power. Certainly he has an exalted view of God and his greatness.

It seems like Barth had a warm and devoted trust in Christ and a love for Scripture. To give balance to this picture, he did not do well in loving his wife and he apparently had at least an emotional affair with his long-time assistant.

This is a good introduction to Barth for a neophyte like me.