Barth, Karl

Barth, Karl

biographical name

(born May 10, 1886, Basel, Switz.—died Dec. 9/10, 1968, Basel) Swiss theologian. He studied at the Universities of Berlin, Tübingen, and Marburg, and in 1911–21 he was a pastor at Safenwil, Switz. The tragedy of World War I made him question the liberal theology of his teachers, rooted in post-Enlightenment ideas. With The Epistle to the Romans (1919) he inaugurated a radical turnaround in Protestant thought, initiating a trend toward neoorthodoxy. The work led to his appointment as professor at Göttingen (1921), Münster (1925), and Bonn (1930). He was a founder of the Confessing Church, which opposed the Nazi regime; when his refusal to take the oath of allegiance to Adolf Hitler cost him his chair at Bonn, he returned to Basel. He spoke at the opening of the World Council of Churches in 1948 and visited Rome following the Second Vatican Council.

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