Subject of 2022 Barth Conference
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 2022 conference theme
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.
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.
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.
The programme will be announced soon.
Venue of the 2022 Barth Conference
Our venue was 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 liturgical moments. There are single bedrooms with shower and toilet.