Karl Barth and the Barmen Declaration


Karl who? Does Barth rhyme with hearth?

When I decided to do a sermon series on creeds of the Presbyterian Church, I knew I’d be including the Barmen Declaration. I love the story behind it. Written in 1934 by a number of people, most notably Swiss Theologian (and Princeton Theological Seminary’s patron saint) Karl Barth. The creed was written with a particular context and political situation in mind: Nazi Germany. The writers got together and drafted a document that said, essentially, no. 

This Sunday I challenged the congregation to think about when it’s appropriate for Christians to say “God is not…” I asked each person to think of one way they can confidently finish the sentence “God is not______.” Mine was probably similar to a lot of others: God is not hate.

In my research this week I was charmed by this two minute video of Karl Barth (does not rhyme with hearth, rhymes with cart) talking about the confessing church. Such carefully chosen and pointed words and his manner seems humble and confident:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drq9hz5tYDI]

We speak a lot about what God is but there are times, it seems, when it’s important to speak about what God is not.  What do you think?

For further reading: Disruptive Grace: Studies in the Theology of Karl Barth  by George Hunsinger


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