Nice hat, Karl!
Nice hat, Karl!

Personally, I haven’t been able to find the motivation necessary for a sustained engagement with the writings of Karl Barth. When I was a student at Western Seminary it was apparent that he was becoming more and more popular among Evangelicals. I wanted to understand all the hoopla, but whenever I’d go to read something written by Barth I couldn’t maintain interest. Maybe I am not bright enough, or maybe I’m not asking the questions that Barth has answered for others, who knows? Maybe someday? At this juncture in my life “you must read Karl Barth” doesn’t make anymore sense to me than “you must read Thomas Aquinas” or “you must read Paul Tillach Tillich.”

For those who care there has been a lot of intense discussion across the blogosphere taking place regarding Barth whether or not he is a “must read.” Janice Rees’ “On Not Reading Barth: my measly resistance” got the ball rolling. Peter Kline responded with “On not reading Karl Barth anymore: a white male’s perspective”. Kait Dugan provided another perspective explaining why as a woman she does read Barth in “On Reading Karl Barth: Another Form of Feminist Resistance (A Response to Janice Reese)”. If you want a quick summary of these three post read Rodney Thomas’ “THREE Must Read Posts on Karl Barth and Theology”.

Today I’ve seen David W. Congdon post “On still reading Barth: some sympathetic reflections” and Brandy Daniels’ “Un-Womanly Me? (A post about, and full of, paradoxes)” which are further contributions to the discussion. I read Rees’ post and I found it to be very though provoking. Apparently others have as well! Update: Amanda MacInnis has joined the discussion with her post “Reading Barth, Not Reading Barth, and Reactions to the Barthian Industry”.

Update 09/11/2013: Joel Watts weighed in with “On Not Reading Barth—or, Academic Fundamentalism” which received a response from Rodney Thomas titled “On Karl Barth and Refusing to Read Barthians: The Patristics, Contemporary Theology, and Privilege”.