Tuesday 16 September 2008

Book giveaway: Bruce McCormack, Orthodox and Modern

Bruce McCormack’s brilliant collection of essays is due for release within the next couple of weeks: Orthodox and Modern: Studies in the Theology of Karl Barth (Baker Academic, 2008). Thanks to the kind folks at Baker, we have some free advance copies to give away. So if you’d like a copy, just leave a comment here listing three things you like about Karl Barth (or, if you prefer, you can list three things you loathe about Karl Barth). The most interesting or entertaining comment(s) will receive a free copy of the book.


Anonymous said...

Three things I like and dislike about Karl Barth were his absurdness, rationality, and his refusal to care about what you think.

Mooney said...

three things I like about KB:
1. his brevity
2. his affinity for natural theology
3. his good boundaries with LoLo

Anonymous said...

Three things that I like about Karl Barth:

The letter "H" is silent letter in his last name.

His command over language

His bombastic attitude towards natural revelation

Halden said...

1. His doctrine of election.
2. His Romans commentary.
3. His radical politics.

Give me book.

Josh Young said...

1. i have not read any karl barth and i would like to.
2. when i hear "barth" i think of "barf"
3. when i hear "karl" i can only associate that name with karl marx.

Anonymous said...

1. His willingness to go where he believed God wanted him to go.
2. His willingness to take on the establishment (both liberal and conservative) in achieving #1
3. His unwavering commitment to be pastoral in his theology

Unknown said...

1. Ability to be loved and hated within a seminary.
2. Ability to be loved and hated within a given denomination.
3. Ability to be loved and hated within your own head.

and for good measure . . .

4. Name rhymes with gnarled fart.

Anonymous said...

1. His pipe
2. His Christ
3. His politics

a. steward said...

1. He is a preacher's theologian. Reading Barth will give you something to talk about when you have to preach a sermon.

2. His theology is good for living. Talk about Christ is always talk about what it means to be human, and the complications that involves. As John Updike wrote, "those who have not felt the difficulty of living have no need of Barthian theology."

3. No Barth, no Bonhoeffer.

Anonymous said...

1. Because of him, we get someone formed like Stanley Hauerwas.
2. Because when he visited the U.S.A., he thought William Stringfellow was "the man America should be listening to."
3. Because he could write such powerful prayers like "At the Grave."

Keith Williams said...

Three things I like about Barth:

1. On a first read, I barely understand anything.
2. On a second read, I feel like I'm plumbing new depths of theological insight.
3. On a third read, I'm not sure I've understood anything.

Lumière et Possibilité said...

1) a copious amount of writing loosely assembled as 'church dogmatics' without any substantive ecclessiology
2) inspiring a revived appreciation for 'trinitarian' theology with a suspiciously absent pneumatology
3) he's a "preacher's theologian".

Karl Aho said...

1. The Barmen Declaration.
2. His work on analogy.
3. His appreciation for music (Mozart).
4. He shares my first name.

I like reading...

Sports Dave said...

I don't have three comments, but I have a story:

In a recent essay in a book published in his honor, Donald Dayton writes about hearing Barth speak at Princeton Seminary in the late 60's. Somehow, Dayton and the group he was with were mistakenly given alumni vip tickets, and thus were seated in the front row, center. Which, of course, was prime seating for the moment in which the Westminster Seminary contingent walked to the front of the auditorium. Someone introduced Barth to Cornelius Van Til, and according to Dayton, Barth exclaimed, "Hello! You are the naughty, naughty little man from across the river!"

Anonymous said...

Three things I dislike about Karl Barth:
1 His ignorance of exegesis
2 His ignorance of Tradition
3His ignorance of Patristics

Anonymous said...

1. The paradox undergirding his entire oeuvre, namely that he should say such a prodigious amount about how little one can say about God.

2. Speaking up against the incipient Third Reich at a point when hardly anyone else thought it necessary to do so.

3. His analysis of Protestant though in the 19thC as groundwork for the CD.

cbernard said...

1) His ability to see his own work as a pneumatological enterprise.

2) His commitment to ethics

3) the fact that he wrote a Church Dogmatics, not a systematic theology.

Brandon said...


1. Focus on Christ
2. Radical sense of thiings I've gathered from reading him
3. For producing a work that easily takes up several shelf spaces...

Anonymous said...

1. The obvious: his nickname "the whale".
2. The real stories: he once entertained Robert Jenson's 18 month old daughter by running around his backyard barking like a dog.
3. The philanthropic: his retrieval of the by-his-time almost forgotten semi-colon.

Halden said...

I submit that Andrew Bourne knows virtually nothing whatsoever about Barth or his theology.

Joey Sherrard said...

1) His refusal to organize theology according to the traditional systematic categories

2) The way in which the lengthy practice of reading Barth actually creates the space within the reader to receive an understanding of the beauty of the Subject of theology and the power of grace.

3) The unprecedented and near-miraculous nature of his critique of his contemporary historical-critical biblical studies. How is the Romans commentary possible in such a milieu?

Evan said...

1. His polemical work: With Brunner on nature and grace, sure, but especially with Harnack on the question of "scientific theology" in 1923.

2. His Gifford Lectures: The modern-day equivalent might be Stanley Hauerwas speaking at an NRA meeting. How he was ever invited or why he ever agreed to the gig, I don't know, but we're all better for it.

3. "The Ship of Fools": When Gogarten suggested calling their new theology journal The Word, Barth balked at such a presumptuous idea. This anecdote more than most anything else represents Barth's careful and practiced humility for me.

Anonymous said...

1.) His biting wit (especially against Brunner and Tillich)

2.) His ingenious dialectical approach to theology (glorious and frustrating)

3.) Knowing that his theology will be read and debated for centuries to come (unlike Brian McLaren's)

Peter B said...

1) That he shows how one can be creatively orthodox... two words that I have a tendency to think cannot coexist.

2) That mentioning him in a sentence can make me feel smart AND religious

4) That I can feel superior saying to people... "well... its actually Karl BARTTTT"

Erin said...

1. He uses the same words I do, but somehow they mean something else.
2. I read much better now, beginning at the end and moving forward.
3. He has been a thick rope out of Lessing's ditch.

Mark Stevens said...

1) Charlotte

2) His glasses (especially in the early years)

3) His ability to piss off conservatives and liberals with the exact same argument!

Anonymous said...

The three best things about Barth is one thing said in three repetitions:

1) God is God!

2) God is--God!

3) God--is God!

Jon said...

Three things I love (about Karl Barth):

1 - the fact that I studied for 4 years at St Andrews University (the home of UK Barthianism) and wrote probably 5 essays on Barth without ever really properly reading him.

2 - the fact that he wasn't Eberhard Juengel - cos then Juengel wouldn't have been himself but Barth and, thus, Juengel wouldn't have been as good as he is.

3 - if you mix up the letters of 'I love karl' you get "a overkill" - fitting (as Thomas might say)

Anonymous said...

In response to Andrew Bourne

Andrew Bourne said...

Three things I like about Karl Barth:
1 exegesis
2 tradition
3 Patristics
4 his pipe
5 his glasses that look like they could have been worn by one of the kids from the sandlot movie

Anonymous said...

He loved Jesus.
Praying made him happy.
Preaching made him scared.

Sean Winter said...

Hi Ben
Three things I love about Barth:

1. His entertaining of the possibility that God might speak "through Russian communism, through a flute concerto, through a blossoming shrub or through a dead dog”.

2. His love of Mozart (but this is accompanied by an accompanying suspicion at the fact that he seemed not to get Bach).

3. His ability consistently to undermine the theological certainties of those who regard themselves as his followers and who fail to see that, unlike revelation, Barth is someone to think with and not think after.

Anonymous said...

3 Things I hate about Karl Barth:

1) his followers

2) his followers

3) his followers

Anonymous said...

1. His interpretation of the theology of John Calvin

2. How we decisively reorganized an entire discipline in the same way that intellectual giants such as Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Freud, Weber and Saussure did

3. I don't think anyone is being fully honest unless they mention the pipe as one of their favorite Barth characteristics.

Anonymous said...

Three things I like:

1. This line: "Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death."

from The Barmen Declaration

2. This line: "...Jesus Christ is the electing God. We must not ask concerning any other but Him. In no depth of the Godhead shall we encounter any other but Him."

from CD II/2, The Doctrine of God.

3. This line: "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."

when asked to summarize his theology.

Chris TerryNelson said...

I appreciate how Barth told his students at Bonn during his last lecture:
1.) "Exegesis!
2.) Exegesis!
3.) Exegesis!"

Unknown said...

I like...
1. That he was small in his own way
2. The way he forces you to read the fine print
3. The humanity of God

Mykel G. Larson said...

Ah, well, here goes.

What I like about Barth:

1. He died. (Hopefully peacefully and without much pain. All that writing...)
2. He stopped writing. It's a good thing he wasn't related to people named in Genesis.
3. He will become the Patron Saint of Systematic Theologians. (It's true! The Church is investigating his miraculous works - if not for their content, their sheer volume.)

Ok yes, veiled stabs. Or not so veiled.

Anyway, it must be dark times for Theology if the collective brain trust has to resort to contests such as these to bait the heathens of the modern theological world. It's unfortunate, too, and though there are those who will defend with honor and grace the value of Barth's contribution to modern theology, the problem is still a fundamental one, on two fronts. (Call it Quantum Theological Problems, or QTP)

1. This contest revolves around subjective statements, either supported with intimate knowledge of his works or complete unadulterated bashing. (The contest allows for this mind you, so don't be surprised if you get some nasty comments.)

2. This sort of quasi-theological discourse still keeps the whole endeavor of theological discourse confined to the world of Logos. (It is Theo-logy, after all.) Meaning, it seeks to objectify a condition - and that starts the whole madness of attempting to determine what's the right word? And why? So on and so forth. It becomes completely subjective and can seduce people away from every really truly being intimate with God and becoming fascinated with their own ruminations, or that of others. (Especially those who wrote a great deal....)


And if by some miracle I happen to win? Give the book to someone else. :D (Or just disqualify me right now on that principle alone.)

Very Best. :D

Anne Camille said...

I haven't read Barth so can't give 3 likes/dislikes, witty or otherwise. But you should give me a copy of the book anyway because:

1. A pastor told me I should read Barth after quoting Barth's 'Jesus loves me' summation and then said that I would think that I didn't understand Barth. He admitted he was messing with me and laughed.
2. After trying to wrap my brain around that, my head hurt.
3. After reading through these comments, I laughed -- and my head still hurts, and I'm still puzzeled by commentary about Barth.

Give me some Barth reading material please, so I can figure out if I should laugh or take some aspirin!

Anonymous said...

1. Tillich says, "The newspaper will tell you what to preach, the Bible will tell you how." Barth says, "The Bible will tell you what to preach, the newspaper will tell you how."

2. Theology after Hume graveled at the feet of Kant (a bit of an overstatement). Barth said, "Who Needs them, I've got the Word of God!"

3. Nice Round Glasses.

Anonymous said...

Me no like:
1. His logos asarkos eggshells (allowing Hunsinger and Molnar to think it's the yolk).
2. His never quite finding his way, with his student Yoder, to Christian pacifism.
3. His anthropology on women and homosexuality.

And what's with his stealing the name of my son?

Darren said...

1) That KB never wanted to be followed by "Barthians," but by fellow readers of Scripture and the theological tradition. That's theology with integrity and humility.

2) "Nein!" That's theology with balls.

3) "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." That's theology that is captive to Christ.

RT said...

Three things I like about Barth:

1. The depth and the subtlety of his understanding of those secular thinkers who did the most to demote the prestige of theology in modern European thought – especially Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Friedrich Nietzsche.

2. The judiciousness, generosity, and even fondness with which he typically discusses them.

3. His ability to draw intellectual nourishment from even their hostility to Christianity, without ever exaggerating their importance, or wavering in his cheerful assurance of their incomprehension of everything that really matters.

A word of explanation. A few years back, I had gotten a fair distance into an academic career in an intellectual milieu in which it was simply assumed that that Christianity had surrendered its claims on the mind of the West by the seventeenth century at very latest – a milieu in which it was simply assumed that Luther and Calvin was to be read (if at all) mainly in order to understand the background to Locke, Rousseau, and Kant; that Kant’s greatest critic was Hegel, and Feuerbach’s only great critic, Marx; that Kierkegaard’s natural heirs were Heidegger, Camus, and Sartre. In the space of just a few years, I’ve come to be someone who thinks and cares rather less about ‘the mind of the West’ than about the Body of Christ – how that happened, I can’t say. But this much I can say: it was my stumbling upon some writings of Barth’s (quite by accident) that first made me understand that my education (which I was by this time perpetuating as a university teacher) was not only fundamentally flawed in its secularist assumptions, but also radically unsatisfactory and incomplete on its own terms. Thus my choice for three things I like about Barth. These are qualities that I like about Barth, mind you – not those that I love most about him, or for which I am most grateful. I mention them mainly because I’ve lately suspected that this side of Barth’s greatness can only be fully appreciated by those burdened with an education as waywardly secular as mine. At any rate, it’s a side of his greatness that certainly deserves to be more widely known. There have been times in the last couple of years when I’ve had reason to believe that news of the existence of a twentieth-century theologian possessing these qualities would be met by some of my colleagues in the secular academy with little less incredulity and scandal than the news of – well, you know....

worldtim said...

An Asian's 3-Point Reflection of Barth:

1. A doktorvater to T.F. Torrance - Barth's greatest mentoring investment to the next generation perhaps!

2. A pneumatic theologian without a pneumatology of his own in his magna opus - Barth's greatest theological mistake, considering that he had failed to recognize and address the impact of Pentecostalism at the dawn of the twentieth century on Christianity!

3. An ecclesial theologian without a sustained treatment of ecclesiology - Barth's greatest theological oversight since a Church Dogmatics without a critical Reformed ecclesiology seriously impaired his philosophy of a theology in service for the church!

Kindly, let me have the book to learn from the accomplishments and mistakes of a remarkable theologian from the previous century. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I like Barth because without him we would not have:

1. T.F. Torrance
2. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
3. Jürgen Moltmann

K.M. Delport said...

Three things I love about Karl Barth

1. He changed his mind (and made it public)

2. He was "snatched up" in the theological moment of the Word

3. Without him, Jüngel might have just been another in the "genus Bultmannus"

dpotter said...

1. The way he kept Grunewald's painting of the crucifixion above his desk.
2. His 'I-don't-care-what-Pseudo Dionysius/Aquinas-says' attitude toward the (much neglected) doctrine of angelology in CDIII!
3. The fact that he would probably tell you to send me the book since I can't read much German!

Anonymous said...

Three things I love, and these three are one, or the threefold form of the-thing-i-love-about-karl-barth:

1. The originary love for God that so compelled him to pen millions of words to explicate his understanding of God. This love is the internal basis of his theological writings, while his writings are an external basis of his love. The greatness of this love is testified by its indefatigable coherence within itself and its relentless permeating effect into every detail of life outside of itself.

2. The secondary love, which proceeds from the first and is inseparable but distinguished from it, is the love of the intellectuals for Karl Barth. Across the christian spectrum (conservative reformed, catholic, lutheran, etc) is an abundance of intellectual christians who appreciate the painstaking effort Barth puts into his every word of theology and interaction with the Bible and diverse kinds of thinkers.

3. The tertiary love, which proceeds from the first and the second and is inseparable but distinguished from the first two, is the love from the conservative evangelicals, typified by the likes of Cornelius Van Til. The gracious election that is Barth's theology of this particular group of antsy camp of theologians determines the being of Barth's theology, as I would argue. The ambivalence within this camp is beautifully microcosmic of that of the world at large toward christian theology as a whole.

Unknown said...

1. I could see Philip Seymour Hoffman playing Barth in a biopic.

2. He was on the cover of Time: http://img.timeinc.net/time/magazine/archive/covers/1962/1101620420_400.jpg

3. His prodigious writing output is, perhaps, only matched by Søren Kierkegaard; but, thank God, Barth never dabbled with "indirect discourse."

Thanks for holding this contest (and for your blog in general).

Joshua said...

Things I Love

1. The fact he recognizes that every preacher should tremble before the congregation and the text...see the essay in Word of God, Word of Man

2. His account of transcendence and incarnation in CD 4.1. Only a truly transcendent God can become incarnate

3. His book on Schleiermacher and the fact he never let his students easily dismiss Schleiermacher without a fair read.

Things I loathe

1, How his rejection of natural theology has led, rightly or wrongly, to a sort of disembodied epistemology amongst many of his followers. Don't we need a non-natural natural epistemology...see the patristics on this, particularly Athanasius

2. CD 4.4 and his account of sacraments related to my worry in #1

3. That his focus on the concrete and particular is obscured in his discussion of men, women, and Israel in CD 3 and Christian religion in CD 1.

Anonymous said...

Three colorful reasons for needing to like Barth:
1. Have to like someone who earned the nickname "the red pastor."
2. Have to like his being a preacher in a blue-collar Swiss town.
3. Have to like the fact that "Green" is a frequent surname among Barth's many interpreters (Garrett and Clifford).

Anonymous said...

1. The posture of prayer in theological method
2. Defining God in light of the gospel – and thus the constant exegesis of the CD.
3. His polemic against all perceived forms of idolatry, both within and outside of the church, in light of the risen and living Lord.

David Bruner said...

1. His breadth. The guy just...read...everything: Reformation, post-Reformation, early church, catholic thinkers, you name it. When I think about him scrunched over in his library, reading endless tomes of ten-point Latin script so as to have a better understanding of Reformed orthodoxy, it makes me feel both grateful and inadequate.

2. His emphasis on mission. I feel like IV/3 is the real secret gem of CD: not only has he, by that point, revolutionized the doctrine of the trinity, the doctrine of election, etc., etc., but as kind of a capstone he basically founds missional theology as a discipline. Unbelievable.

3. His joy. KB was a joyful thinker, and when you read enough of him, you begin to feel both edified and delighted. Barth is a persuasive witness to the fact that Christ's resurrection is indeed good news.

Paul said...

1. His generosity (and geekiness) in providing miles upon miles of seemingly unedited small print detours, easily observable when you flip open to a page in any volume of CD.
2. His incredible mental organization - "Dogmatics in Outline" is theology as jazz improv - no lecture notes, no prior preparation, done in one take.
3. He told the Nazis to shove it, Socrates-style

John Roberson said...

Three things I HATE about Karl Barth!

1. Heretic.
2. Couldn't stand Hawaiian pizza.
3. God still loved him in Christ.

Anonymous said...

Three reasons I like Barth: his trinitarianism!

Anonymous said...

1. loved Mozart

2. hooked up with his secretary

3. took a cold shower every morning so he could get to work on the Dogmatics.

Anonymous said...

Three things I like about KB
1. Negotiating space for the relationship (under one roof) between Nellie and Charlotte. Dialectics or Analogy, I wonder.
2. His reductionist riposte to an arrogant scientist: 'Well, I don't know much about astronomy but perhaps it can summed up by: 'Twinkle, Twinkle, little star, how I wonder...'
3. His determination to pursue a theological vision in a wholly rigorous way and still be content to leave it unfinished.

Unknown said...

3 things I like:

1. Barth is more conservative than the conservatives.
2. Barth is more liberal than the liberals.
3. Statements 1. and 2. both contradict and don't contradict.

Anonymous said...

Who is Karl Barth?

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