THREE Must Read Posts on Karl Barth And Theology!

Karl Barth

Karl Barth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you know what a Barthian is? Well, here’s my definition; in the past I also offered alternatives to reading Barth, maybe they should be taken seriously now! 🙂

I am all for academic rigor but I AM NOT A FAN OF CLOSED CANONS when it comes to systematic theology. Here are 3 must reads, and some of my favorite quotes:

“Third – and perhaps this is really the best way to make the first two points – by resiting Barthian scholarship I have hoped to resist ‘institutional powers’. From my perspective, Barthian scholarship seems a power unto itself. Actually, it seems an American Protestant power unto itself. When I attend conferences in America it is the Barthians who stand out, who have the large crowds, who have the ‘big names’. What stands out is in fact the white man’s club. It is like watching the powerful movement of Patriarchy – striding confidently with long able legs while wearing leather patched tweed jackets. You often hear the lament of the poor white scholar: ‘it is so hard not to be a queer, black, disabled, liberal Biblicist’ we are told. It is the trump card of all institutional powers: ‘what momentum, there is no power here, we are now the minority!’ Last year while attending the AAR I slipped off to a session at the SBL to hear some ‘legends’ of minoritised biblical scholarship. There were 14 people in the room, including the five panelists. Don’t believe the hype; the man is still the man and the institution holds all the cards. In systematic theology American Barthianism epitomizes this.

— Janice Rees, On Not Reading Barth: My Measly Resistance

“Looking back, I now recognize both painfully and humorously that my decision to go to Princeton Seminary directly from Wheaton was driven by a desire to secure for myself and perform a particular identity: the white, male, Barthian-evangelical theologian. The pressures at Wheaton to pursue that identity were complicated and deep-seated. There was the peer pressure, the upperclassmen in my dorm who were themselves desiring and pursuing that identity. They seemed to know it all and have it all: the Barth-knowledge, the approval of professors, the girlfriends-soon-to-be-wives, the Princeton acceptance letters. I wanted all of that. There was the internal, self-pressure, the anxious need to grasp at an identity using the closest available language and resources. This self-pressure was compounded and given shape by my personal, spiritual-religious history of being the smart, good, Christian boy.”- Peter Kline, On Not Reading Karl Barth Anymore: A White Male’s Perspective

“With everything said, I want to make one thing abundantly clear. At the end of the day, the issue isn’t truly about getting more people to read and study Karl Barth nor should it be. Women should be encouraged and free to engage anyone they want within theology and other academic disciplines including the male-dominated field of Barth studies. And women should feel free to follow Janice in not reading Barth if they don’t want to as a one form of powerful resistance. Afterall, isn’t that freedom for women to be exactly who they are and study whatever they want the true ethos of feminism? Unless women feel genuinely free of shame for doing so (or not doing so!), I fear that we are doing a disservice to the cause of gender equality. I hope to see more women free to go wherever they want and perhaps some of them will continue to infiltrate those spaces dominated by men including Barth studies.”

– Kait Dugan, On Reading Barth: Another Form of Feminist Resistance (A Response to Janice Rees)

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0 thoughts on “THREE Must Read Posts on Karl Barth And Theology!

  1. Curt Day

    I haven’t read much of Barth. But what will always bother me is his depiction of the resurrection in his commentary on Romans. Can you cite things from Barth himself that serves as the object of scorn here or do the sins reside with those who claim to represent him?

    Also, we should at least note that Barth had a positive influence on Bonhoeffer and Bonhoeffer went against the grain of the then prejudice du jour.

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