Was Karl Barth a Socialist?

2 thoughts on “Was Karl Barth a Socialist?

  1. Stephen, Thank you for this; very competent treatment and conclusion, particularly for the apolitical trends of the American evangelical reception. You might have mentioned the work of Marquardt whose theological path required him to pay dearly for what he learned from Barth’s work – he is the first true post-Barthian in this vein. It is ironic for me, however, that George Hunsinger could follow Barth on socialism but could not follow him on the sacrament. Like Webster, this area of pushback wholesale against Barth and then Juengel (have you seen George’s last sentence in his chapter in the new handbook?) calls into question George’s capacity for semper reformandum. That said, thanks for highlighting the historical and case by case approach of Barth on socialism. I studied at Basel with Jan Milic Lochman who did not return to Prague after his year at Union in 1968. The similarities between Hungary and Czechoslovakia are significant. Most of all, thank you for highlighting the inherent political dimension of Christian theology as well as the necessity of finding a third way. I have been studying the failure of Kuyper’s family and school to resist fascism and Hitler’s rule in the Netherlands during the Nazi period. Their separatism within the Reformed church of the Netherlands made them incapable to guiding their communities and the nation into a third way. I think you should mention how severely critical Barth was of civil religion – which is where his radical third way on election / ethics / sacrament / baptism go as Juengel elucidated in his famous essays in Barth Studien (intentionally left untranslated by Webster). Looking forward to be in touch. Best, Kurt

    1. Thanks for the comment, Kurt! I have Marquardt’s book on Barth and socialism but haven’t read it yet (since it’s in German and I am still learning the language). I didn’t know about the repercussions of it, however. Thanks for that. I don’t have the new Barth handbook, so I cannot say RE: Hunsinger. I’ve heard of Lochman—it must have been an honor to study with him! And thanks for the advice about Barth and civil religion, I would agree that is an important point. Thanks for watching and commenting and for the kind words. Stephen :)

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