Karl Barth’s Letter to Wolfhart Pannenberg

Wolfhart Pannenberg

In the next few weeks, I plan to begin reading Jesus: God and Man by Wolfhart Pannenberg. I’ve read a couple of Pannenberg’s shorter works, and would especially recommend his accessible An Introduction To Systematic Theology. I’ve also listened to a few of his lectures that are available via Asbury Seminary’s website (here is one on the doctrine of creation). Jesus: God and Man was his first major work and I am looking forward to engaging with it.

I remembered reading Pannenberg’s correspondence with Karl Barth in the collection of letters I read last year. Below is the letter that Barth wrote to Pannenebrg upon reading the original German edition of Jesus: God and Man in 1964 (Grundzuge der Christologie). Continue reading Karl Barth’s Letter to Wolfhart Pannenberg

A Letter from Jürgen Moltmann

Less than three weeks ago I mailed a letter to the famous German Reformed theologian Jürgen Moltmann,  and have already received a very gracious response. He even signed the theologian trading card I enclosed with my letter! (I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there probably aren’t very many other theology nerds out there who can say that they have a signed Jürgen Moltmann card. Just sayin’….)

Continue reading A Letter from Jürgen Moltmann

Evolution and the Creation Story

I actually finished reading Karl Barth Letters: 1961-1968 (translated by Geoffrey W Bromiley) a few weeks ago, but find myself returning to it to reflect on his take on certain topics. Much of it reads like an extended Q&A, so you get clarification on some things that aren’t as accessible in his other writings. You can read other excerpts I’ve shared here, here and here. Better yet, find a copy of the book and dig in! (I believe my used copy was delivered to my door for less than $4, and well worth it!)

Below is from a letter written to Christine Barth (his grandniece), dated February 18, 1965, in response to a letter written to him in December (the delay was because of some health problems he had). Continue reading Evolution and the Creation Story

What Is Correct Is Not Always True

Below is a portion of another one of Barth’s Letters. A bit strongly worded, but perhaps this is exactly what must be said to those who say many true things, but do not “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15)?

You say many correct things. But what is correct is not always true. Only what is said kindly is true. You do not speak kindly in a single line.You utter a powerful No on all possible sides. It is indeed necessary to say No too. But the right No can only be one which derives from and is upheld by an even more powerful Yes. I hear you say only No.
You accuse. That, too, has to be done. But again, if this is Christian accusation, it has to be enclosed in the promise, in the glad tidings of God’s grace. In you it is naked accusation.
You demand that others repent. Sometimes one must dare to do this. But only he may do so who himself repents and lives in repentance. You preach down from your high horse, righteous amid the unrighteous, pure among the impure. Continue reading What Is Correct Is Not Always True

The Most Important Thing…

It’s always interesting to see how a theologian concisely answers life’s basic questions. Here’s Karl Barth’s one sentence answer to the question of “what is the most important and essential thing in the life of a man”.

Dear N.N,
You have put to me two questions inexhaustible in scope. Permit me to answer you briefly as follows:
1. What do you regard as the most important and essential thing in the life of a man?
That he should use his understanding in such a way as to learn to live responsibly. 2. What do you regard as the most important and essential thing in the life of a theologian?
That he should exercise his responsibility in such a way as to learn to reflect (think after).

With friendly greetings,

Karl Barth

Geoffrey Bromily (trans.), Karl Barth Letters: 1961-1968, #299 (p. 310)