Barth on Barth (and on Barthians)

Speaking at a Ministers’ Meeting in Schulpforta in July 1922, Barth offered the following remarks:

‘With theology proper I have hardly made a start. Whether I shall ever get on with it or whether I shall even wish to get on with it, I do not know. I really do not presume to place beside the work that has been done and is being done by the great and venerable creators of theological systems anything equal or commensurable. Do not think that I make my contribution to theological discussion, today or any day, in rivalry with the fundamentalist, liberal, Ritschlian, or history-of-religion type of theology. Take it rather as a kind of marginal note, a gloss which in its way agrees and yet does not agree with all these types – and which, I am convinced, loses its meaning the moment it becomes more than a note and takes up space as a new theology next to the others. So far as Thurneysen, Gogarten, and I really may be said to form a “school” in the familiar sense of the word, our work is superfluous. I think that every one, however important may be the contents of his marginal note, may well remain in his own school and with his own masters, if only as a corrective, as the “pinch of spice (biszchen Zimt) in the food,” as Kierkegaard says. “My theology” is related to the theologies proper somewhat as the Community of Moravian Brethren is related to the communions and churches proper: it has no wish whatever to form a new type of its own’. – Karl Barth, ‘The Need and Promise of Christian Preaching’ in The Word of God and the Word of Man (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1957), 98.


  1. love the graphic caption Jason!… a kind of apolgetic? ah now I know where to stand…adding some spice! um…might get back to the idea of inclusive language then….in that framework!


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