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God Here and Now (Routledge Classics) (Volume 39) Paperback – February 6, 2003
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'Karl Barth was a man of his time. Yet he was also a genius, able to see a little further than many and to offer new insights into the ways of God and mankind.' - Professor Colin Gunton, The Times
'With a startling suddenness [Barth's] message has transformed the whole outlook of Protestant theology on the continent.' - The Times Literary Supplement
'This is a beautifully produced reissue of a collection of essays.' - Reviews in Religion and Theology
'This welcome reissue in the Routledge Classics series...introduces the first-time reader to aspects of his mature thought in an accessible way...God Here and Now is a superb introduction to Barth at his most compelling and most frustrating.' - Epworth Review
About the Author
Karl Barth (1886-1968). Protestant theologian, born in Basel, who has been described as 'the Einstein of twentieth-century theology.'
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For Barth, "the preacher is only a mailman ... delivering a letter which he has neither written nor altered ... Barth refuses to ask about the mailman's ability to read the letter to an illiterate recipient or to translate it into the native language ... He likewise refuses to ask more than that we let the trumpet sound its own note ... and consequently he is able to concentrate on what is said to man in the gospel." (xix)
"The sovereignty of God's Word is distinguished by its exclusiveness. There is one Mediator between God and man. The light of this One, who is that, unmasks the others who want to be but are not that ... Therefore, the Word of God travels a solitary road. It stands in the witness of Holy Scripture lonely among religions, world-views, myths, and ideologies. Therefore Christians must also, again and again, be lonely. [The Word of God, which is Jesus Christ here and now, rooted and manifested in history, declared in Scripture, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow] "can be heard only exclusively, or else not at all." (21-22)
"We could not speak of the sovereignty of the Word of God, however, without immediately speaking also of ... the decision of faith." (23) "Man is what he is and he is everything that he is in the decision of faith. For in the decision of faith he moves toward being ascribed and given that human nature which Jesus Christ has united to Himself ... He stands before God as the man God intends and in the way in which God wills to have him ... In the decision of faith and only there is he his true self as the true man!" (25)
"Faith always means choice, crisis, transition. We believe as opposed to have been torn away from the abyss of unbelief and yet stand on its rim. Therefore, `I believe, O Lord, help my unbelief! (Mk.9:24). We believe and apprehend in faith the possibility of our true existence ... We entrust ourselves to One instead of to many. We surrender instead of asserting ourselves ... Faith is always decision ... Who decides here? Without hesitation we must confess that, first of all and fundamentally, it is not we ourselves to decide. In every case, if we believe, we believe in the consummation of the sovereign act of the Word of God. [Jesus Christ, God, here and now, incarnate: crucified for our sins, risen that we might walk in newness of life.] In every case, it is the work of the Holy Spirit which happens to us." (26-27)
"Faith: the truth of our existence founded on, and discovered in, Jesus Christ - What does it mean? ... My support lies not in me but in Him; that I let myself be nourished, enlightened, and ruled by Him. ... I for the first time and only in this relationship to the sovereign Word of God find my true manhood! This is faith: that I let Jesus Christ be for me what I am not and cannot be for myself." (26) "How else could we fallible and erring men be obedient?" (29) "In the decision of faith... We may dare to lay hold of the possibility which is given to us to be the children of God." (29)
"Every honest, theological dialectic [i.e., inquiry] as such makes clear as its end and goal a most undialectic yes or no, in word and deed!" (31) "[and] is at the same time the proclamation of true manhood, of true humanity ... this is alone that which is honestly human and pleasing to God and which shares in the promise of eternal life. We stand today in horror before the phenomenon of a Europe, a so-called Christian Europe, ... The problem lies in the fact that Europe itself has chosen not to decide, that it does not dare to choose and thereby has chosen evil, which means it has chosen inhumanity." (32)
Karl Barth's life (1886-1968) is noteworthy: "While in Safenwil (1911-1921), Karl Barth was pastor of a small country parish of blue-collar workers and was advocating for their education and social rights. During this time Barth wrote the first version of his commentary The Epistle to the Romans, his commentary on the Apostle Paul's Epistle to the Romans, which became a cornerstone of his life work. As a consequence of the international attention aroused by his commentary, Barth was appointed a professor at the University of Goettingen, Germany, in 1921, despite his lack of a doctorate degree. From 1925-1930 Barth worked as a Professor of Dogmatics and New Testament Exegesis in Muenster and from 1930-1935 as a Professor of Systematic Theology in Bonn. In Bonn he began his work on the Church Dogmatics, his major work, which he left unfinished despite its more than 9,300 pages and thirteen total volumes.
Karl Barth manifested his fundamental opposition to National Socialism even before Adolf Hitler's seizure of power in 1933 and decried the Nazis' plans to use the German Church to legitimate their racist agenda. In June 1933 Barth published the first edition of his pamphlet Theological Existence Today, which was widely perceived as an alarm and a wakeup call. In 1934 Barth was largely responsible for the writing of the Barmen Declaration, a confession of faith that vigorously repudiated Nazi ideology. Barth mailed this declaration to Hitler personally. The Barmen Declaration became one of the founding documents of the Confessing Church in Germany, which led the spiritual resistance against National Socialism. In 1935 Barth lost his position as professor in Bonn and was forced to leave Germany because he refused to swear a pledge to Adolf Hitler without adding the qualification "to the extent that I responsibly am able as a Protestant Christian." The authorities in Basel, Switzerland, immediately appointed him Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Basel, from where he continued to champion the causes of the Confessing Church, the Jews, and oppressed people everywhere. Barth stayed at the University of Basel until his retirement in 1962.
Karl Barth died on December 10, 1968 in his house on Bruderholz Lane in Basel. On the prior evening he had cheered up his lifelong friend Eduard Thurneysen in a final phone conversation by saying, `Just don't be so down in the mouth, now! Not ever! For things are ruled, not just in Moscow or in Washington or in Peking, but things are ruled - even here on earth- entirely from above, from heaven above.'" (Karl Barth, Wikipedia 2014)