Karl Barth was a leading thinker within an influential theological direction that arose in Europe
after the First World War, known as dialectical theology. Comprehensive introductions to the
life and work of Barth in the South African theological journals, written in Afrikaans, either
does not exist, or are difficult to trace for the Afrikaans readership. This article on Barth aims to
fill the gap by offering a lexicographical contribution on the life and work of Barth. The focus of
this article is on Barth as a Reformed theologian. The theme of the New Testament and systematic
theology is essentially the same, namely to explain the concept of Christian self-understanding
as an eschatological event in which faith is expressed for the sake of faith in God and only in
God. Barth explained the same theological concepts with his theology as those that were
explained by the church reformers of the 16th century, but under radically new circumstances.
The so-called modern and postmodern people of our time not only broke ties with the past, but
in the process they also lost their ability for using historical-critical patterns of thought that tries
to bridge historical distances, and therefore, sacrificed all efforts to think systematically on the
altar of relativism. We can learn from Barth what systematic reformed theology really is.
Dr Gafie van Wyk is
participating in the research
project, ‘Ecumenical creeds
and Confessions’, directed by
Dr Wim Dreyer, Department
of Church History and Church
Polity, Faculty of Theology,
University of Pretoria.