Karl Barth’s Römerbrief: A Turning Point in Protestant Theology

Wim A. Dreyer

Abstract


Karl Barth’s theology presents itself as a paradigm shift during the early part of the 20th century. As time went on, the radical nature of his theology manifested in different ways. Not only did it start out as a critique of Protestant liberal theology, but it also transformed the understanding of the church, mission and basic reformed doctrines such as election. This was met by vociferous protest, from liberal as well as more orthodox theologians. Despite all, Pope Pius XII called Barth the greatest theologian since Thomas Aquinas. This contribution reflects on the first of Barth’s major publications, his Römerbrief which first appeared in 1919. The point is made that Barth’s Römerbrief could be regarded as an important turning point in the history of Protestant theology. The context of the Römerbrief is discussed as well as some of Barth’s early theological views present in it, illustrating the radical break between Barth and the liberal theology of the Modern Era.


Keywords


Karl Barth; Der Römerbrief; liberal theology; hermeneutics; historical-critical exegesis

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Copyright (c) 2018 Wim A. Dreyer

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