The Church and the Churches

Front Cover
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005 - Religion - 59 pages
How can Christians claim to hold in common one Lord, one faith, and one baptism while their churches remain splintered? Theological giant Karl Barth's mature, historic discussion of the problem of church unity still deserves careful attention.
Originally written for the 1937 Edinburgh World Conference on Faith and Order, Barth's profound reflections continue to speak to today's multiplicity of churches. While some of his subject matter - the predicament of churches in Germany before World War II, for instance - may now be of mostly historical interest, his call for Christians to honestly listen to Christ through their various traditions is as fresh and demanding as ever.
Through this thoughtful inquiry Barth brings clarity to the relationship between the Church and the churches, calling believers everywhere to a more serious confession of Christ. Those actively engaged or interested in contemporary ecumenical ventures cannot afford to ignore the foundation for unity laid out in this little Barth volume.
 

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TITLE: "A gem on the topic of Christian Unity, a gem that has passed the test of time" January 19, 2006
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This 54 page little booklet, "The Church and the churches" is the speech that famous 20th
century theologian, Karl Barth, gave at an international and ecumenical Christian conference in Edinburg Scotland in 1937. This monumnetal meeting was another brick layed at building the Unity that Christ prayed for his Disciples and the Believers in the Gospel according to John chapter 17.
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I read the booklet, slowly, once. My impression while reading Karl, is that after finishing one paragraph I thought I knew what he was going to talk about in the next paragraph. To my surprise, he talked about something opposite and something challenging and thought-provoking. I feel that I need to read this little ecumenical gem some 4 times more, in order to get more out of it.
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Amazingly, Karl Barth's speech back in 1937 is as relevant to us Christians (Protestants, Orthodox, and Catholic believers) today as it was back then for the ecumenical audience (which is pictured on the front cover).
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A great addition to anyone's library or read on the topic of Christian Unity or Ecumenism.
 

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - wordsampersand - LibraryThing

Not a bad introduction to Barth, I guess. Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Foreword
vii
The Unity of the Church
3
The Multiplicity of the Churches
17
The Union of the Churches A Task
31
The Church in the Churches
47
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

Karl Barth was born in Basel, Switzerland, in 1886. A theologian, Barth is considered to be one of the most prolific writers Christendom has ever produced. His Church Dogmatics runs well over 12,000 pages in English translation. There also is a great body of occasional writing. Barth would be worthy of note if only for his first published work, a commentary on The Epistle to the Romans. In 1918, when he published this study, Barth was a young pastor in his native Switzerland. The guns of World War I could still be heard, their angry shells destroying, perhaps forever, the liberal optimism of Continental theology. Where was the progress young Barth had learned about from Harnack in Berlin? Where was human rationality, dispelling the noisome holes of ignorance and superstition, when the great leaders of Christendom descended to the barbarity of trench warfare? For answers Barth turned St. Paul's greatest epistle, as St. Augustine of Hippo and Martin Luther had before him. Barth obtained a post at the University of Bonn, but Hitler objected to his work with the Confessing Church (see Dietrich Bonhoeffer), and he was forced to return to his own country, there to produce all his great tomes. Turning theologians from their rational optimism, Barth has driven them to consider again the power of the Word of God-the acted, spoken, inscripturated, incarnated Word was always his chief theme. Against it, all human pride and pretension, all schemes for utopian societies, all theologies based on anything other than the Bible and Christ have proved transient. Barth's objectors reply that Barth's God is too far away like Soren Kierkegaard; that Barth spoke of the "infinite qualitative distinction" between God and man; that Barth ignores scientific advances; and that he cares little for dialogue with other religions. Yet Barth's oppposers never complain of a lack of erudition or ecumenical concern. To some Barth is the greatest theologian the church has produced. Barth died in 1968 as he had hoped-with his Dogmatics still unfinished.

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