Karl Barth and the Making of Evangelical Theology: A Fifty-Year Perspective

Karl Barth and the Making of Evangelical Theology: A Fifty-Year Perspective

Karl Barth and the Making of Evangelical Theology: A Fifty-Year Perspective

Karl Barth and the Making of Evangelical Theology: A Fifty-Year Perspective


Swiss theologian Karl Barth traveled to the United States only once during his long career. In 1962, newly retired, he came to visit family and to deliver a series of lectures subsequently published (by Eerdmans) as Evangelical Theology: An Introduction, which remains in print and widely read to this day.Besides recounting some delightful and poignant biographical details about Barth's two-month journey through the States, the authors of this book revisit central themes in Barth's mature theology and explore the theological and ethical significance of his Evangelical Theology. Even more, the distinguished scholars contributing to this volume assess contemporary North American theology and show how Barth's Evangelical Theology remains as bracing, powerful, and relevant today as it was fifty years ago.


Clifford B. Anderson

Karl Barth visited the United States of America only once during his long career as a theologian. He arrived on April 7, 1962, to visit his son Markus and family, and to deliver lectures that were subsequently published as the book Evangelical Theology. For roughly two months he toured the United States, traveling “from sea to shining sea.” He visited Chicago, New York, Princeton, Richmond, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., among many other places. He visited with Billy Graham, exchanged greetings with Martin Luther King Jr., and talked politics with Arthur Schlesinger Jr. He returned to Switzerland on May 26th, ending the two months with a superfluity of impressions. He wrote to his son- in- law: “Max, America, which we have sampled a little in the midwest, east, and west, is a fantastic affair, a world in which much is astonishingly alike and much astonishingly unlike. When people ask for impressions of America one’s mouth simply closes; there is no knowing where to begin, since generalizations are certainly wide of the mark.”

This volume of essays exhibits a similar form of astonishment at the depths and riches of Karl Barth’s theology. the eleven contributors to this volume address different facets of Barth’s theology and ethics, but his visit to America serves as the common thread running through these reflections. the contributors all took part in a conference held at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, held June 17–20, 2012, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Barth’s Evangelical Theology. the conference also celebrated the 200th anniversary of the 1812 founding of Princeton Theological Seminary.

1. Karl Barth to Max Zellweger, May 19, 1962, in Barth, Letters 1961–1968 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), p. 45.

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