Karl Bart is often called to be the modern "father of the Church" and is included to the list of the most famous theologians in the history of Christianity. Future generations will not stop talking about him as nowadays we talk about Augustine and Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Schleiermacher. “Barth is distinguished from neoconservatives like Neuhaus, with their apology for the satisfactions of capitalism, and aligned in social intent with latin American liberation theologians like Gutierrez and Segundo”(Hunsinger 5). It will be appropriately to say that as well as Schleiermacher dominated the theology of the XIX century and is the father of liberal theology, Bart basically dominated the theology of the XX century and is the father of neo-orthodox (neo-reformist) theology. What is particularly interesting, he was recognized by Catholic, and Protestant theologians.
Karl Barth (1886 - 1968) is a Swiss Protestant theologian, the founder of dialectical theology. His father, a Calvinist pastor of the church Fritz Barth, taught at the University of Basel and wrote theological works. Karl has received a theological education at the universities of Bern, Berlin, Tubingen, and Marburg. Listened to lectures by a famous liberal theologian Adolf Harnack. At 25, Barth became a pastor of the Reformed Church in Switzerland. At the age of 35 he started teaching Calvinist theology at Gottingen, and later on became a professor of theology. Starting in 1927, he took an active part in the ecumenical movement. In 1935, after refusing to swear allegiance to Hitler Karl was deported by the Nazis from Germany. The last years of his life Bart spent in Switzerland.
According to Torrance, Karl Barth has tried to “give fresh articulation to the Christian faith as a theology of the Word of God which breaks through the frame of every form of human thinking while employing all that ancient and modern thought can offer by way of tools and instruments of thought and speech” (Hunsinger 12). In his writings Barth relied primarily on the doctrine of Luther and Calvin. However it is worth mentioning that Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky largely influenced his views as well. The greatest impact had their ideas about the irrationality of human nature and social life, leading to the alienation of people from God, and to the deep crisis of the spirit largely influenced his views.
Barth has gone through the most tragic events in the life of Germany. He witnessed how all the German intellectuals supported the military policy of Kaiser Wilhelm II. He admitted that he was horrified to see a list of names of almost all the teachers of theology, which until then had great reverence for. After experiencing strong spiritual shock, disappointed in their ethos, Karl realized for himself that in the future he would not be able to follow their understanding of the Bible and the history of dogma and ethics. From that point, the theology he used to admire did not have any future for him.
Thus Barth has established for himself and inextricable link between public policy and ecclesiastical dogma, link between political views and theological explorations, between ethical motivation and religious beliefs .He clearly saw the cause-and-effect relationship between the doctrinal shortcomings of liberal theology of his teachers and their far from perfect, moral and political position.
In accordance with to Barth, God does not fit into the space of human culture. No spiritual value, no art, no literature, no philosophy cannot save a person. The most that they can in existential terms - is to initiate an internal crisis, point to the failure of the spiritual worldview of the individual and thus prepare them to accept God's grace. The voice of God calling out to the man can sound from anywhere. A person does not have its own sufficient means of salvation; the initiative always comes from God. After a crisis-court personality comes to the self-denial and self-denial for the assertion of himself in his own mind as God's creation. For the self-abasement come faith and hope of salvation, for spiritual dying comes the spiritual resurrection. In the analysis of these differences denials and statements of thesis and antithesis is the essence of dialectical theology of Barth.
According to the liberal theological frame of mind, the original beginning of Christian theology - is a religious man his natural religiosity. Bart, however, argued that no one should start with the man, and with Christ. Human religiosity - it's just a natural prerequisite for people's understanding of themselves. All that belongs to the religious cult - is only the external shape, the internal investigation of something more important. They resemble a funnel, the remainder after the bomb.
Bart criticizes religion, those ideas about it, which have emerged in liberal theology. In this theology religion is a product of the desire of people to be saved at all costs. Religion - a product of human unbelief. In this religion, God is pushed far to the periphery, so that the religious cult operates without him.
This understanding has enabled a number of German Protestant theologians to admit that next to God, or even instead of Him could be put an idolized figure of the leader, the Fuhrer. God is incompatible with such a religion. It is unacceptable to serve lies instead of the truth, and the creature instead of the Creator. Therefore, the gap between the liberal, anthropocentric culture and God was inevitable.
Bart was making efforts to build Christocentric dogma. If the liberal theology used the principle “from man to God”, the theology of Barth is based on the principle "from God to man”, “from the Creator to the creature”. And here he attempted to go without any philosophical explanations, bravely claiming that a theologian should not be ashamed of his philosophical naiveté. He redeems it openly stating: “For me, one and indivisible truth is not the idea of Christ, but Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who was executed under Pontius Pilate, and resurrected, never to die”.
In 1933 Adolf Hitler gained control over Germany, and a scores of people considered it to be a gift from God. People thought of him as of a chosen one, sent by God. He was depicted as a new revelation of God and the government demanded to take this “Revelation” as compulsory for general acceptance. Moreover, as further wrote Bart, this requirement concealed the idea - to proclaim this new revelation to be the only one and thus ousting the revelation attested by Scripture. By the end of 1933, supported by the pro-Nazi Nazi-oriented church groups set up in Germany the “Evangelical Church of the German Nation”. The main task of the church was to create a “positive Christianity”, i.e. racially pure Christianity. The solution of the problem implied a couple of steps, such as to clear the dogma and liturgy from the non-Germans and to remove all the Jewish motifs from the Gospel.
As you can see, a lot of Bible basic principles have been treacherously substituted. In place of the Jews as God's chosen people, the Germans have set themselves. Their focus has moved from the New Testament to the Old. It has enabled them to cross out the New Testament universalism, according to which there were no Gentile or Jew. Now it was possible to revive the ancient dichotomy “we – they” where “we” was used for the Aryans, the chosen people, and “they” for denoting all the non-Aryans around the world.
The Dialectical theology of Barth was intended, in his opinion, to clean the evangelism from the husk and the liberal political mud. The denial was necessary for the sake of approval.
According to Barth, Church is responsible for all the problems in the social world, in the political sphere. However he also sees another side of Church: “Here is Church substance, distorted and corrupt substance perhaps, but still it has not been a lost substance”(Barth 339).
Theological Declaration of Barmen claimed that the Church seeks only one freedom - the freedom to follow God's Word. The very existence of a free church in the world of social dependence imposes restrictions on the activities of the state, the political permissiveness of the authorities.
We must trust and obey God's Word and then your position in a specific political situation will correspond to the Gospel. And it will be the best thing that can come up in opposition to evil world and its specific social and political forms.
Hunsinger, George. How to read Karl Barth: the shape of his theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print
Hunsinger, George. Disruptive grace: studies in the theology of Karl Barth. Cambridge, 2000, Print
Barth, Karl. Die Theologie und die Kirche. Munich, Collected articles, 1920-1928, Print