Barth for Armchair Theologians: Summary/Review
When I set out on this short adventure of reading and blogging about a book I said that my comments and review would not be “ojbective” in any sense of the word because I am a fan of Barth’s theology and count John Franke as one of my friends… so take my comments with a grain of salt.
Overall, I really enjoyed Barth for Armchair Theologians. Its length makes it very digestible and it’s style, a cross between biographical story and analysis creates a nice balance to read. Particularly helpful is that this can be desribes as “theological-historical” biography as at every point John seeks to show how the historical content in which Barth was living and writing impacted what he wrote. My ability to tell whether something is accessible to the average chuch goer is completely shot, but my guess is that most people with an interest in theology would be able to handle it. I found the last part of Chapter 7, where John discusses the neo-orthodox/postmodern interpretations of Barth to be a little higher grade of discussion, but nothing completely over the top.
What the book helped me to was understand myself better actually. While my thinking has been shaped by Barth directly (via his books) my thinking has also been shaped by Barth indirectly through the people he has influenced such as professors that I’ve had and authors that I’ve read. At numerous points in the book I was reading and then went, “Ah ha! That’s where that came from!”
What did suprise me a bit was that there was no mention of Barth’s highly controversial assisant, Charlotte Von Kirschbaum. It seems that shortly after the discussion of Barth begins someone brings up the strange mysterious relationship between Barth and Von Kirschbaum and its something that wasn’t even mentioned in this book.
My final assessment is that Barth for Armchair Theologians is well worth reading, especially if one is interested in getting a grasp on his thought prior to diving into the Church Dogmatics which will literally take a person years to read….