– Barth Essay, Research Paper
In the nineteen-thirties, Nazi Germany tried to shape their churches into a propaganda machine by paying homage to Hitler in Christian literature. They also did not allow anyone of Jewish decent to serve as a Christian minister. German theologians agreed to cooperate with the Nazis as just another step in the churches need to adapt itself to modern culture. The “step” was the continuation of liberal commentators who tried to organize part of the Bible, which reflected the author?s own ideas or reflections of his or her culture. Liberal Protestants tried to erase memories of earlier culture, replacing them with modern ideas. Karl Barth, one of the greatest Protestant theologians of the twentieth century, believed that knowledge of God begins only with Jesus Christ, not with “human nature” or “modern civilization.” Barth opposed the idea of a Nazi Christian Church, which was brought forth by German theologians, and his hard stand captured the image of man in the early twentieth century.
In disagreement with the German theologians, a small group called the Confessing Church formed which included Karl Barth, who helped to draft their manifesto called the Barmen Declaration of 1934. In it he wrote:
“Jesus Christ is the one word of God. We repudiate the false teaching that the church can and must recognize other happenings and powers, images and truths as divine revelation. We repudiate the false teachings that there are areas of our life in which we belong not to Jesus Christ but to another lord. We repudiate the false teaching that the church can turn over the form of her message and ordinances will or according to some dominant ideological and political convictions.”
Barth also wrote the well publicized Church Dogmatics, a thirteen volume, unfinished work of church writings where he attacked all “natural theology,” and all human efforts to understand God.
Karl Barth disagreed with many of the beliefs of liberal thinkers such as Harnack and Schleiermacher. Liberal Protestants believed religion originates and centers around the self-individual and experiences. Barth disagreed with the human experience belief because he felt, “revelation is God?s self offering and self manifestation.” He also felt without revelation we would not know God, and to know God we must manifest. He wanted society to stay away from creating a God they were comfortable with, but instead listen to what God says in the Bible and how He reveals himself in it.
Barth also saw differently the liberal view of humans and how religion should be shaped. Liberals had an optimistic point of view of humans, where Barth had a pessimistic view. Barth said we are sinners and we cannot save ourselves. Furthermore, we need God to help save us. Liberals also thought the worldviews should shape our religion. Barth disagreed with this view and stated, “God is the creator, Lord of history, and redeemer.”
A final contrast was the notion of the Liberal Protestants who felt Jesus was just a teacher of ethics. Barth claimed Jesus Christ was the Son of God who came in as the servant and high priest. He thought Christ called us to live a life of hope, and we are forgiven through Christ.
Karl Barth saw the Christian religion starting to sway towards nationalistic views such as Nazi Germany. He stopped man from disturbing the Gospel to fit his own terms. His ideas and beliefs tried to put a halt on conforming religion based on human comfort, which captured the image of man.