The Earlier Barth

Kenneth Oakes

in Karl Barth on Theology and Philosophy

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199661169
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745577 | DOI:
The Earlier Barth

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The goal of the first chapter is to present Barth’s early theology (1909–14) and his understanding of the relationship between theology and philosophy. After considering the nineteenth-century intellectual background to Barth’s theology, and in particular the influence of Wilhelm Herrmann, Barth’s ‘correspondence’ or ‘congruence’ understanding of modern Protestant theology and modern critical philosophy is presented as well as the importance of religion’s ‘independence’ for the young Barth. The early Barth’s high views of Socrates, Plato, and Kant are discussed as well as his criticism of metaphysics. This ‘correspondence’ understanding of theology and philosophy is then traced through several early works not yet translated into English and through Barth’s alleged rupture with liberalism in late 1914. Questions are raised concerning the accounts of Barth’s break with liberalism offered by Bruce McCormack and Ingrid Spieckermann.

Keywords: Barth; theology and philosophy; herrmann; liberal theology; metaphysics; correspondence; independence; Socrates; Plato; Kant; McCormack

Chapter.  19531 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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