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An Explorer's Guide to Karl Barth Paperback – December 2, 2016
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"The prospect of reading Karl Barth's theology can be intimidating for new and experienced theologians alike. The historical distance between Barth's time and our own, the complexity of his thought, the ongoing scholarly debates about his work, and the sheer number of pages Barth produced can make it difficult to know where and how to begin. That's where this book comes in. David Guretzki has spent years helping students explore Barth's theology, and he has distilled the wisdom he has gained during these years into these pages. The result is an accessible and generous guide to Barth's theology that reduces the intimidation factor, answers common questions, and makes the task of reading Barth fun. I recommend this book for professors, students, pastors, and anyone else interested in reading Barth." (Keith L. Johnson, Wheaton College)
"Beginning readers of Karl Barth will not find a better, more reliable, more accessible introduction to his theology than David Guretzki's An Explorer's Guide to Karl Barth. Guretzki knows Barth's theology so well that he can explain it without using a lot of technical jargon. The idea of including a list of Barth-related FAQ is a stroke of genius. I will certainly assign this book to my own students." (Joseph Mangina, professor of theology, Wycliffe College, Toronto)
"Barth's Church Dogmatics is galactic in scope and grandeur: too vast to take in merely with the naked eye. As with the night sky, it requires the use of a telescope, where vast vistas are brought close. For a second one catches a glimpse of the whole in the part, only to leave the telescope behind, gaze up at the night sky, and again be reminded of the depth and grandeur of the whole―all the while holding on to the partial yet real insights provided by the telescope. Barth's theology is a universe and Guretzki has given us a glimpse through the telescope of his book of key constellations within Barth's cosmos, helping us gain an apprehension and understanding of the whole. This is a brilliant little book that will prove to be a useful tool for all those wanting to study Barth and his theology, especially those who are gazing upon his work for the first time." (Myk Habets, dean of faculty, head of Carey Graduate School, lecturer in systematic theology, Carey Baptist College)
"This is a concise, lighthearted, judicious, and well-written introduction to Karl Barth's life and thought. Guretzki is a winsome and reliable guide for new explorers of Barth's work." (Adam Neder, Bruner-Welch Professor of Theology, Whitworth University)
"One of the biggest challenges to studying the work of Karl Barth with genuine comprehension is simply getting started and moving in the right direction. In this volume, David Guretzki provides an ideal place for readers to begin, based on years of introducing his students to Barth's writings and theological ideas. A most welcome resource for those embarking on the journey of reading Barth as well as those seeking to teach them." (John R. Franke, theologian in residence, Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, author of Barth for Armchair Theologians)
"In this introductory guide to Karl Barth's life and thought, David Guretzki reliably acquaints readers in a welcoming fashion with many important themes in the theology of Karl Barth. Most notably, he helpfully points readers to Barth's own spiritually captivating analysis as one of the leading biblical and truly Christocentric theologians to appear since Augustine, Athanasius, or Thomas Aquinas. Anyone reading this book will see, with Guretzki, why so many serious Christian theologians today believe that 'one cannot claim to be engaged in the study of Christian theology without in some way engaging or becoming at least familiar with Karl Barth.'" (Paul D. Molnar, professor of systematic theology, St. John's University, Queens, New York)
"For the interested but uninitiated reader, accessing Barth's theology is no easy task. Standard introductions and surveys of his theology remain accessible only to those generally familiar with it. The need for a more easily accessible entry into reading Barth has been longstanding. Guretzki's book satisfies this need. Not only is it concise, well written, and very balanced, it also points readers in the right directions in terms of further primary and secondary sources. This book is well worth acquiring!" (Archie Spencer, Trinity Western University, author of The Analogy of Faith)
About the Author
David Guretzki (PhD, McGill University) is professor of theology, church, and public life at Briercrest College and Seminary in Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada. He is also a coauthor of Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms.
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Top Customer Reviews
Most of us are not well acquainted with Barth, whose writings are complex and difficult to understand. I think many of us have inaccurate or incomplete views about Barth and miss out on what he offers for Christian theological reflection. It’s unfortunate that Barth, who began as a pastor and then became a professor, wrote primarily for an academic audience where he is largely inaccessible to the average pastor, theological student, and church leader. So, David Guretzki offers a concise and practical guide to orient us novices in an exploration of Karl Barth. Because of “Guretzki’s Guide”, I’m already returning to some of Barth’s works that I own to re-read them with fresh eyes and I intend to get a key source that will help me read and understand key selections from Barth’s magnum opus, Church Dogmatics (CD).
Guretzki’s book is divided into two parts, 1) “Getting to Know Karl Barth.” This part includes a brief Barth biography, frequently asked questions about him, a glossary of key people and concepts regarding Barth, and a 10-stop pre-CD tour of Barth’s theology. 2) “Exploring the Church Dogmatics.” This part includes a primer on Karl Barth’s CD, a user’s guide to CD, a guided tour of CD, and resources for further exploration. Throughout, Guretzki inserts brief and informative “fun facts” and directs the reader to other pertinent Barth primary and secondary sources. Like a true teacher, Guretzki will help you understand key concepts in relation to Barth such as, church\community, crisis (KRISIS), dogmatics, dialectic, nothingness, religion, revelation, and word of God.
According to Guretzki, here’s why we should read Barth, “Because Barth is thoroughly biblical, and therefore to be taken seriously as a theologian of Scripture; and because Barth is thoroughly Christ-centered, and therefore, to be read with great spiritual benefit.” An Explorer’s Guide to Karl Barth will help you see and appreciate Barth’s biblical and Christ-centered theology, piety, ethics, and mission. In addition, we can grapple with Barth’s comprehensive Trinitarian structure for his theological method and his view of the doctrine of election where he saw Jesus Christ as both the subject and object of election rather than that of individual humans. By the way, IVP Academic did great work on the final appearance, style and format of the book.
As a pastor, denominational leader, teacher, and writer, I can’t afford to ignore Barth, as he is widely cited, both with agreement and disagreement, by countless people. I typed his name in Google, which generated 576,000 results! Guretzki’s personal yet professional style moves at a winsome and swift pace as he showcases the enormous terrain of this Swiss Reformed theologian who lived from May 1888 to December 1968, and appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in April 1962. Guretzki offers succinct and noteworthy correctives to common assertions by some, especially in conservative camps, that Barth is a liberal, a neo-Orthodox, a universalist, who does not believe that the Bible is the Word of God but that it contains or becomes the Word of God. David Guretzki writes, “Regardless of the conclusions one ultimately makes about whether Barth is friend, foe, or somewhere in between, one cannot claim to be engaged in the study of Christian theology without in some way engaging or becoming at least familiar with Karl Barth."
Dr. David Guretzki is well qualified to write this book. His PhD studies concentrated on Barth, and for the past 20 years as a professor of Theology at a premiere Seminary in Canada, (Briercrest) he returns to Barth’s work again and again for his teaching, preaching, and spiritual life. He has written several pieces in journals and reviews on Barth, and runs a Karl Barth reading group that meets weekly to discuss a portion of Barth’s Church Dogmatics. As of this writing, he celebrates the tenth anniversary as a group! So, in the days ahead, I intend to re-read my copy of An Explorer’s Guide to Karl Barth to aid me as I also read and re-read Barth for my growth in Christian theology, piety, ethics, and mission.
An Explorer’s Guide to Karl Barth is divided into two separate but complementary parts: (1) Getting to Know Karl Barth, and (2) Exploring the Church Dogmatics. In the first part, Guretzki looks to acquaint the reader with Barth through biographical sketch, frequently asked questions, a glossary of concepts and people associated with Barth, and a theological exploration of Barth’s worldview pre-Church Dogmatics. It is clear from this section that Guretzki is well-acquainted with Barth and the Barthian theological framework, and well-equipped to instruct the readers on the importance of such in a contemporary context. It is here, even at the outset of the book, that the reader will discover tremendous benefit.
In the second part, Guretzki looks to guide the reader through the Barthian wilderness of Church Dogmatics. It is here that incoming and seasoned Barthian enthusiasts will find refuge and strength as they navigate the some six-million words that comprise Barth’s magnum opus. Guretzki does an excellent job keeping a broad range of readers in focus during his exploration of Church Dogmatics. If readers are looking to begin the voyage or have already taken the trip, the second section of the book is invaluable and worth the cover price alone. Lastly, throughout the book the reader will discover “Fun Fact” sections with interesting information about Barth, as well as a “For Further Reading” section with a curated list of Barth related reading.
Guretzki frames An Explorer’s Guide to Karl Barth around the concept of travel guides typically associated with a vacation voyage. This is a brilliant concept with which to explore the person and work of Karl Barth, and could possibly be the start of a helpful new series (An Explorer’s Guide to...). As someone who owns Barth’s Church Dogmatics and has found them intimidating, I greatly appreciated the work laid out in this volume and plan on using it in the near future to journey through Church Dogmatics more thoroughly. Karl Barth is by far one of the most interesting and influential figures of the past century, and it would do readers well to get acquainted with him and his theology sooner than later. That said, in my opinion, there isn’t a better way to make that happen than with An Explorer’s Guide to Karl Barth by David Guretzki. It comes highly recommended!!
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Publisher: IVP Academic
Reading Level: Leisure-Moderate
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