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Dates Lived: 1886-1968

Most important works:

  • The Epistle to the Romans (1922)
  • Church Dogmatics (1968)

Biggest Contributions:

  • Sought to recover the doctrine of the Trinity, which had been practically abandoned by radical liberalism
  • Believed the Bible was a witness to the Word of God (Jesus)
  • Viewed doctrine of election and predestination as centered upon Christ
  • Stressed the paradoxical nature of divine truth

Favorite Quotes

“God is not an abstract category by which even the Christian understanding of the word can be measured, but he who is called God is the one God, the single God, the sole God.”

“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”

“Belief cannot argue with unbelief, it can only preach to it.”

“The best theology would need no advocates: it would prove itself.”

“No one can be saved – in virtue of what he can do. Everyone can be saved – in virtue of what God can do.”

“Jesus does not give recipes that show the way to God as other teachers of religion do. He is Himself the way.

Once a young student asked Barth if he could sum up what was most important about his life’s work and theology in just a few words. Barth just thought for a moment and then smiled,

“Yes, in the words of a song my mother used to sing me, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.'”

“If I have done anything in this life of mine, I have done it as a relative of hte donkey that went its way carrying an important burden. The disciples had said to its owner: ‘The Lord has need of it.’ And so it seems to have pleased God to have used me at this time… I was permitted to be the donkey that carried this better theology for part of the way, or tried to carry it as best I could.”

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4 thoughts on “Top 5 Christian Theologians: Karl Barth”

  1. Jeff says:

    Should not Martin Luther be rated above Karl Barth?

  2. trevinwax says:

    Good question.

    See my Saturday post to find out why Luther is not on this list.

  3. Scyldmund says:

    I’ve been trying to find where Barth says, “To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”
    Does anyone know where I could find it? This seems to be one of those quotes everyone uses on the web, but no one sites it.

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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