Karl Barth

On this rainy day, students gathered at the Bonhoeffer House for a lunch of Karen’s chicken & wild rice casserole and a discussion of the famous theologian, Karl Barth. Barth was born in Switzerland in 1886, and at age 22 he became a Calvinist pastor like his father. Karl was passionate about the study of theology, which he called “that beautiful science.” He went on to teach theology at Goettingen and Bonn. In 1933, Barth wrote the Barmen Confession, which was an anti-Nazi protest that claimed autonomy of the church from all temporal power. Because of this, he was found guilty of “seducing the minds” of his students. Barth returned to Switzerland and wrote 600 theological works. For the theologian, faith was not an idea about God, but was man’s humble and total acceptance of God brought on by God—“the consequences in man of the action of God himself.” Karl attacked liberalism, in which the Bible was an inspiration to Christians on how to live a good life rather than a record of God’s unique intervention in history. In his sermon we read today, Karl Barth discusses the resurrection of Jesus, which he describes as “the centre around which everything else moves.” “Because this event took place, there is no reason to despair, and even when we read the newspaper with all its confusing and frightening news, there is every reason to hope.” Yet Barth acknowledges that we often fail to understand the significance of this event. Some students talked about how our doubts and difficulties can make it difficult to grasp the reality of the resurrection. On the other hand, perfectionism and ambition can lead to shame and imprisonment. But Karl Barth reminds us that Jesus’ resurrection is the answer:

“Yes, truer than your sin, truer than all your experiences and your thoughts, truer than all your doubts and afflictions, truer than death, graves hell. This freedom God will gladly give you, this freedom to breathe in His atmosphere, even though you have a thousand griefs; this freedom to rise from the dead in the victorious power of Christ, even though you are a sinner and a mortal. This is the Easter message.”