Buzz is already building around the celebration next month of the 125th anniversary of Karl Barth‘s birth (May 10). Those of you who have already spent some time with Barth’s theology don’t need me to convince you of its importance. You’ve already seen it firsthand. But, others may not yet have dipped into the sweet waters of the Swiss systematician. So, this post is for you.
But, before I begin, a confession. When I traveled to Scotland for my doctoral work, I had no intention of studying Karl Barth. I knew who he was, of course, but my rather conservative upbringing left me convinced that Barth was for those who didn’t really value scripture, were overly enamored of German theology, and had too much time on their hands. So, like those for whom this post is intended, I required considerable convincing that I should study Barth. Eventually, I came around. I’ve noticed that most of those who study in Scotland eventually do. You could be there to study botany, and somehow you’d end up reading Barth along the way. I think it’s something they put in the water.
So, without further ado, here are the 5 Reasons You Should Study Karl Barth:
- Everyone’s doing it. Just look around. They’ve published a gazillion books and articles on Barth in the last ten years. Everyone’s reading him. You can feel the peer pressure building. Must…read…Barth.
- If you don’t, all the cool kids at school will pick on you. You’ll be like that one poor kid who dresses funny and still doesn’t have a cell phone.
- You’ll learn how to use cool German phrases like das Nichtige. You probably still won’t know what they mean, but you’ll sound really smart. And, using expensive foreign phrases like that helps convince people that your education wasn’t a waste of money.
- The 14-volume Church Dogmatics would look really nice on your bookshelves. Granted, you don’t really have to study Barth for this to work. But, you don’t want to get in that awkward situation of someone asking whether you’ve actually read any of those impressive looking volumes.
- You’d get to call yourself a “Barthian”. Granted, you’d immediately have to deny being a Barthian since no true Barthian can accept the label “Barthian.” But still, when no one’s around, you can whisper it quietly to yourself. It not only sounds cool, but if you have a conservative background like mine, you’ll get to feel a little rebellious at the same time.
Without compelling motivations like those, how can you refuse?