39th International Barth Conference: The Anselm moment, responding theologically to the current times
It was about 1930 and Karl Barth felt that his theological thoughts began to reach a deadlock. To get out of it, he consulted Anselm of Canterbury. What impasse was Barth in, and what solutions did he find in Anselm? How do we in 2022 relate to Anselm’s and Barth’s methodological instructions, and what do they imply for our own era?
Conference in brief
October 2022
keynote speakers
from Germany and Australia
historic location
in Münster, Germany

How to come out of theological dead ends?

It was about 1930 and Karl Barth felt that his theological thoughts began to reach a deadlock. For ten years, in a 'time between the times', he had stressed that the only thing theologians could do was to wait for the right word, until God Himself comes and speaks the Word. Theologians can only point out that this is what has to happen.
But do they have no other tasks? Can they never affirm anything about what God has to say and what has occurred in the Word?

About the conference theme

  • Deadlock

    For ten years, Barth had sought his way in dogmatics with trial and error. He had taught two complete dogmatic lecture series (the so-called ‘Göttingen Unterricht’, repeated in Münster with some adjustments); and a first essay in dogmatical prolegomena had been published in 1927 (Christliche Dogmatik im Entwurf). But still the road to a tenable way of speaking substantively about God was not evident for him. Who could guide him out of this deadlock?

    After wanderings along Luther and Augustine, Barth decided in 1930 to enter the lion’s den and to consult the patriarch of scholastic theology: Anselm of Canterbury. And with Anselm of all people, Barth found so much clarity for the path ahead, that --after writing a book on Anselm-- he found the road to what was to become his lifework, the Church Dogmatics.

  • Positive start

    Thus, Barth did not simply continue hammering on the anvil of a nearly negative theology (we have to speak about God, but we emphatically can’t), but he searched instead for a positive start (although we can’t decide about God, we have to speak about God). This had everything to do with the era he lived in. In the early 1930s, derailments in theology and society were so fierce, that opposition against them should be solid and substantial, in order to offer an alternative in the storms of the time. Becoming a pupil of Anselm was not Barth’s innocent intellectual exercise: it was a vital venture in order to speak a right word--which in the following years even became a straightforward confession (the Barmen Declaration).

    It is therefore a pressing venture to study the impasse Barth was in, and the solutions he found in his book on Anselm. How do we in 2022 relate to Anselm’s and Barth’s methodological instructions, and what do they imply for our own era? In this way, the 39th Barth Conference will get a very actual focus.

  • Tribute

    In 2020 the first Dutch translation of Barth’s book on Anselm was published by Wessel ten Boom. He passed away on 2 October 2021. This conference may be seen as a tribute to him.


Wednesday, October 5th

 Thursday, October 6th

Friday, October 7th

Keynote speakers

  • Prof. dr. Georg Plasger
    Professor for Systematic and Ecumenical Theology at the University of Siegen, Germany
  • Dr. Timothy Stanley
    Senior Lecturer at the School of Humanities, Creative Industries and Social Sciences, Newcastle Australia
  • Dr. Juliane Schüz
    Congregational minister in Oestrich-Winkel, Germany
  • Plasger: Barth and the doctrine of atonement

    What did Barth learn and especially not learn from Anselm, particularly with regard to the doctrine of atonement? Prof. dr. Georg Plasger gives us an introduction to this theme.

  • Stanley: Barths theology and the context of philosophical issues of the time (1930)

    Can we examine from the context of philosophical issues of the time (1930) but also from central philosophical discussions of the moment why Barth turned to Anselm?

  • Schulz: Barth's concept of faith in Fides quaerens intellectum

    When we analyze and assess Barth's Anselmusbook (Fides quaerens intellectum: Faith in search of insight), what concept of faith will we find? Dr. Juliane Schulz will analyze with us from her own practice as a congregational minister.

All speaker photos are property of the speakers and may not be reproduced without permission.


As a preparation to this conference we ask you to read the book:

Our venue

Our venue will be the Liudgerhaus of the Institut für Diakonat und pastorale Dienste in Münster, Germany. The Liudgerhaus is located in the middle of the old town centre. There are serveral conferencerooms and there is a chapel for our liturgical moments. There are single bedrooms with shower and toilet.

Registration and participation

Registration is closed. We hope to see you another time.


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