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The Word in this World: Two Sermons Paperback – June 1, 2007

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The Word in this World: Two Sermons + The Early Preaching of Karl Barth: Fourteen Sermons with Commentary by William H. Willimon
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 68 pages
  • Publisher: Regent College Publishing (June 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573834114
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573834117
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,490,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Cornwall on March 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
Karl Barth has been hailed as the greatest theologian of the Twentieth Century. He has left a legacy that continues to be felt by the church, despite the fact that his death occurred four decades back. Indeed, I can say that my own theological journey has been influenced by Barth's work - his thoughts on the Word of God helping me come to grips with the biblical story. But Barth was not only a profound and influential theologian, he was also a preacher. William Willimon, writing in the introduction to the booklet, notes that Barth saw his theological work, especially the Church Dogmatics, as being a support to the work of the preacher serving in the local church.

The two sermons in this collection, which also carries an introduction by Willimon, come out of two very different eras of Barth's career. As such, they set in firm contrast the early and the later Barth. One is quite practical and seemingly relevant to the day, while the second is focused entirely on the theological understanding of the text.

The first sermon was preached shortly after the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, and appears here for the first time in English translation. It is a fascinating sermon and very unlike the Barth we've come to know as the profoundly biblical theologian. But, at this point, Barth has yet to make his mark as a theologian. Instead, he is a very young twenty-six-year-old pastor serving the Protestant church at Safenwil, Switzerland. At this point in time, he has yet to break with his theological masters over their support of the German war machine. He has yet to write his provocative Romans commentary that shook the theological world. Indeed, this sermon predates by five years the earliest sermon in the collection edited by Willimon.
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Format: Paperback
What Kurt and others have accomplished by making these translated sermons accessible is that it allows Barth to speak to us "in our post-modern world"--as James D. Strauss has said. Barth's 1912 sermon on the sinking of the Titanic, one can say, symbolizes the drowning of modernity in uncertainty. The 1934 sermon about Jesus walking on the water can be seen as pointing to the need for walking buoyantly on the deepening of the post-modern world-wide uncertainty-pandemic.

My approach to the book includes a special application to Karl Jaspers. Barth's words here also gives something empirical to cling to while perusing a deeper understanding of that they were arguing about. Barth criticizes Jaspers in a 1957 work, and Jaspers response is included in his 1962 work. Their theological/philosophical positions at Basel overlapped during the years from 1947-1962.

Exegeses of Barth's sermons are not the only factors; there are data concealed in simple factors like Barth's Basel "exile' from 1934 onward while Jaspers was trapped inside Nazi Germany until after the liberation.

The book's Foreword, Introduction, Kurt's comments, etc., sheds light on and perhaps helps amend or transcend their differences.
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Format: Paperback
This slim volume has some great introductory material about the two sermons (Eberhard Busch, Will Willimon, Clifford Anderson) and great blurbs which serve as more introductory material (Geoffrey Bromiley, Donald McKim, James Strauss, Dieter Zellweger). The first sermon in the volume Barth later found embarrassing because the sinking of the Titanic was more of a focus than Scripture. The second is in Barth's classic expositional style but it is also inspiring. The text is Jesus walking on the water and Peter going out to him.
Here is a quote:
"What is required--what Jesus Christ continually requires--are rocks like this who are certainly not perfectly untainted people, who are perhaps seriously objectionable in many ways and will have much to answer for, but are nevertheless ready to do something quite specific, to render obedience to a specific word by undertaking a specific service." Karl Barth, "The Bremen Sermon (Matthew 14:22-23)," in The Word in this World: Two Sermons by Karl Barth (ed. Kurt I. Johanson; trans. Christopher Asprey; Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 2007), 55.
It made me want to preach. Add this to my recommendation of God in Action: Theological Addresses as a good introduction to Barth.
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