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Karl Barth: An Introductory Biography for Evangelicals

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  102 ratings  ·  26 reviews
 This refreshingly accessible introduction to Karl Barth by Mark Galli takes readers on a whirlwind tour of the life and writings of this giant of twentieth-century theology. Galli pays special attention to themes and topics of concern for contemporary evangelicals, who may need Barth’s acute critique as much as early-twentieth-century liberals did—and for surprisingly sim ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 28th 2017 by Eerdmans
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Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
Karl Barth is the giant of 20th century’s theology, but among evangelicals he has sometimes been seen as questionable. Growing up evangelical, this was probably my first memory of learning of Barth: something about issues with neo-orthodoxy or whatever. Galli’s book is a biography of Barth targeted towards evangelicals. It is brief, covering his life and the highlights of his theology. Galli argues that evangelicals can learn from Barth and ought not be afraid. Near the end he shows how Barth’s ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Summary: An succinct overview of the life and theological relevance of Karl Barth, particularly for contemporary evangelicals.

By most estimates, Karl Barth is considered perhaps the greatest theologian of the twentieth century. He commentary on Romans challenged the liberal consensus of his day focusing attention on the sovereignty of God rather than human standpoints. In his insistence on the sovereign initiative of God and Christ's reconciling work, he clashed with Emil Brunner, Rudolph Bultma
Michele Morin
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Life and Theology of Karl Barth

It should come as no surprise when a brain that has been marinating for decades in North American evangelical culture has an immediate and visceral response to the names of prominent historical Christians:

C.S. Lewis: Green light and heart emojis (but, remember, he did smoke . . .)
Francis Schaeffer: Amazing intellect, but too bad about those knickers.
Karl Barth: Tornado sirens and a flashing inerrancy and Neo-Orthodoxy warning light!
Thanks be to God, we are occa
Wagner Floriani
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Insightful and simple biography. Offers a helpful and sympathetic view of Barth, highlighting important contextual detail into his life and world. Consistently exposes Barth’s similarities with Bonhoeffer, and the evangelical inconsistency of discrediting the former while honoring his contemporary. I would have easily given 5 stars if it had another 100 pages of commentary into his theology and thought.

As far as introductions go, I’m really glad to consider this work as a wonderful place to beg
Jordan J. Andlovec
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
An easy, wonderful introduction to Barth both as a person and as a theologian, one which I hope finds its place into the hands of many Evangelicals. The chapters about the nationalist German Christians and the Barmen Declaration were eye-opening as they carry many parallels to American Evangelicalism today.
Rob Steinbach
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The unique combination of some biography, theology, and evangelical reflection was so good. It was interesting to consider some of the parallels between Barth’s difficult historical moment and ours as well (Barth lived through the Spanish Flu and Hitler) yet he kept on writing and doing ministry! Galli is also a great writer. I was bummed when the book ended.
Tim Hoiland
Jun 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, faith, 2020
Should evangelicals look to Karl Barth for inspiration, instruction, and guidance? To paraphrase Mark Galli, we might say, “Yes, but it’s complicated.” Being only vaguely acquainted with Barth until now, this was a helpful introduction to his consequential life and work.
Allison M
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I thought this was an excellent, readable account of the life and theology of Karl Barth. The book is clear and well-written, yet it was still a long, slow read for me because although I have been a Christian for nine years now, this book is really the first I have read that deals with theology. I have a rough working knowledge of differences between, say, the Church of Scotland and the Free Church but this book talks of Lutherans, Calvinists, Pietism, natural theology, the Reformed Church... it ...more
Daniel Rogers
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Should have provided a better warning to Evangelicals

While I am merely a former Evangelical, I appreciate the effort to speak to my former tribe and tailor a biography for this large group of American Christians. Barth's writing is dense and would scare off most laypeople, so prose more simply written to highlight his theology (appreciate the choice of Scripture and Universal Reconciliation, which have both been very helpful personally) as well as the engaging story of the mistakes of the German
I have no intention to read Barth’s 9000-page “Church Dogmatics,” so in lieu, this will have to do. I almost bumped it up one star just for the last chapter which compares the early 20th century’s Liberal Christianity that Barth set himself against, with today’s Evangelical Christianity. Although different in many ways, both end up focusing too much on our own personal feelings. I love that the author recommends Carey’s “Good News for Anxious Christians” as a corrective — one of my favorite book ...more
Kerry Buttram
Jan 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Barth’s life and theology made more accessible

I appreciate the way Mark Galli weaves biographical and formational aspects of Barth’s life in his explanation and interpretation of his work as a theologian and why it matters today. This would be a useful volume to those getting to know Barth for the first time and a refresher for those who have read him for years. Any pastor or ministerial student or theologian in development would profit from this accessible volume.
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
A short book that should provide a great background for understanding the influence and theology of Barth. This book does a good job of mixing his theology with the story of his life, explaining how he went from liberal pastor to the destroyer of liberal theology to the writer of a giant theological corpus. His relentless centering of Christ and the necessity of God's revelation are both challenging and upbuilding, and I plan to read more of Barth to hopefully absorb more of this focus. ...more
Aug 10, 2019 rated it liked it
A concise look at the life and theology of the noted twentieth century German theologian, Karl Barth. A quick and worthwhile read for anyone looking for a snapshot of this popular modern theologian and the influence of his life and times upon twenty-first century evangelicalism. While there is much to be critical of in his theology and his life, there is plenty to learn from.
Jonathan Caldwell
This is nothing more than an introduction to Karl Barth and the historical context in which he did theology. The author it highly dependent on one or two sources making me wonder if I should have just read those. Since I knew little about Barth, this was informative and an easy read. But for the time and money, one might ought to look elsewhere.
Michael Battistone
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book--very readable and, as described, a great introduction for those who may not be familiar with Barth's life or work. One of the things I most appreciated is Galli's inclusion of an annotated bibliography, which provides some excellent recommendations for additional reading, depending on the particular goals of the reader. This is a book to share with others. ...more
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compelling portrait!

First, I really enjoyed this book. It was a pleasure to read. I plan on delving into Barth’s Church Dogmatics because of this book. It really gives you a personal and theological portrait of Barth.
Trevor Morrison
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Easy introduction to Barth's life and theology

This book was very easy to follow, and I trust Mark Galli's reputation, so I have come to an appreciation of Barth that I didn't have before.
Радостин Марчев
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Кратка, ясна и лека за четене книжка. Чудесно въведение за протестанти, които не са чели нищо от Барт (освен може би няколко цитата извадени от техния контекст), но които смятат, че са достатъчно наясно с неговата личност и богословие.
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is exactly as it presents itself, an introductory guide to the life and theology of Karl Barth. Written by an evangelical for evangelicals...who seem to get nervous whenever they’re around somebody who might not be an evangelical. An enjoyable and helpful read.
Jonathan Hatt
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent overview of Barth’s life and thought
Stephen London
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very readable introduction to Barth. Especially for Evangelicals
Steven Hart
Mar 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
A bit sloppy, but a good introduction to Barth which covers his life, theology, why he is controversial among Evangelicals, and why he probably should be less so.
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good introduction to Barth’s life if you’ve never read him before. Reading was straightforward and included excerpts from his journal and books, Church Dogmatics, and Paul’s letter to the Romans.
Glenn Wishnew III
May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: barth
Fantastic — highly reccomend. I read it in a single sitting.
vittore paleni
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it
A basic introduction with a very specific purpose spelled out in the subtitle. If you have read any other introduction on Barth (of which there are many), best skip this one.
Michael Gowin
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent, exceptionally readable introduction to Karl Barth's life and thinking. ...more
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Mar 29, 2020
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I was born and raised in California, received a B.A. in history from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and an M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary. I served as a Presbyterian pastor for 10 years, four in Mexico City and six in Sacramento, before becoming a journalist.

I have been an editor with Leadership Journal and Christian History, and for the last 20 years, was managing editor an

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