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Barth For Armchair Theologians [Paperback]

John R. Franke
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

April 15 2006 The Armchair Theologians Series

This volume introduces readers to the life and thought of Karl Barth (1886-1968), one of the most important theologians since the Reformation era. Featuring the Armchair series' characteristic whimsical illustrations, Barth for Armchair Theologians surveys Barth's theology as it emerges and culminates in his monumental Church Dogmatics as well as how his theology continues to be interpreted in the present day.

Written by experts but designed for the novice, the Armchair series provides accurate, concise, and witty overviews of some of the most profound moments and theologians in Christian history. These books are essential supplements for first-time encounters with primary texts, lucid refreshers for scholars and clergy, and enjoyable reads for the theologically curious.

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About the Author

John R. Franke is Lester and Kay Clemens Professor of Missional Theology at Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read! Oct. 28 2009
By Peter Cantelon TOP 500 REVIEWER
I recently finished reading (this morning) the book Karl Barth for Armchair Theologians by John R. Franke and was very impressed. Karl Barth was the pre-eminent protestant theologian of the early 20th century (and potentially the early 21st century). Franke's book offers an impressive and very thorough introduction to Barth and his theology in a way that one would think impossible across a mere 170 pages.

Barth is notable for the complexity of his thought which arises in part from a dilectical approach to theology. Franke very clearly and lucidly navigates the reader through many of the complexities and past some of the simplistic and one-sided interpretations of Barth (Neo-Orthodox versus Post-Modern) to a holistic/comprehensive view.

I highly recommend this book for anyone seeking to develop a more nuanced theology, most especially as a primer for those who are considering reading Barth (or have already done so). An excellent read!
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Daunted by Barth? Here's Help. Aug. 12 2006
By A. C. Taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Reading Karl Barth's work can be a daunting task. With this work Dr. Franke has provided interested learners with a both a framework for understanding and a introduction to the thinking of a theologian widely recognized as one of the leading Christian theologians in Church history. That Franke could do so in a mere 166 pages is impressive.

The book itself is part biography, part historical (Barth's) theology. Franke demonstrates how Barth's theologizing developed under the influence of his personal and world events. From Barth's early family life and academic training to his pastoral and educational work, his maturing thought is illuminated and comprehended as an interaction with culture, life events, and especially his increasing reliance on the Word of God.

Discussion of Barth's magnum opus, Church Dogmatics (CD), does not take up the majority of this book, though it is covered in the longest chapter. Personally, I would have liked to have had two to three times the material discussing CD that Dr. Franke gives. However, what is presented is sufficient to assist the reader in entering into useful dialogue with Barth. I found the insight of making conscious use of the divisions (paragraphs and subsections) of CD most welcome.

Dr. Franke's work also described important works by other Barth scholars; his synopsis of George Hunsinger's & Bruce McCormack's works provide frames of reference and mindset that are crucial, I believe (I've read those works cited), to accurately comprehended Barth's writings.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic and Entertaining! July 17 2008
By Brett A. Stroud - Published on Amazon.com
Karl Barth is probably among the three most important theologians in Protestant history (along with John Calvin and Friedrich Schleiermacher). His insightful and monstrous Church Dogmatics is a daunting task for any reader (I'm just started on it myself), and he certainly has his own method of organizing and talking about theology.

John Franke, with an engaging and lucid style, tells the interesting story of the life of Karl Barth while explaining his theological development into liberalism and out of it. He concludes with a large chapter on the outline of the Church Dogmatics (which includes tips on how to approach the colossal work) and a chapter on the present and future prospects for engagement with Barth's unique "dialectical" theology.

I highly recommend this book to all those interested in 20th century theology and especially to those like myself interested in reading and understanding Barth.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barth for ArmChair Theologians July 4 2009
By Timothy P. Monaghan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
a great over view of one of Barth's CDs before you tackle the volume yourself, but really Webster's intro book is the best
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Excellent Jan. 4 2011
By Dan O'Day - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author did a great job showing the development of Barth's life and thought, and I feel he gave a fair shake to his teachings and views. Most people completely botch Barth's teachings and compartmentalize him into boxes he doesn't fit in. The author does a great job demonstrating this and placing Barth where he belongs. Excellent job, five stars.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to Barth May 31 2012
By Riyawzidawn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In reading I gained a sincere appreciation for the man. I find myself disagreeing with some of his views but, judging from (theologically) where he started, I found his journey of faith rather remarkable. During his career, German theological liberalism was nearing its zenith and, whatever quibbles I may (and certainly do) have with some of his theology, he was certainly swimming upstream. His very public chastising of his theological colleagues over their support for Hitler, and his subsequent authoring of the Barmen Declaration (a very orthodox work) were acts of significant theological and personal courage.
If this book is indicative of the series, I'll be reading more of these "for Armchair Theologians" books.
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