Seminary Ramblings

Updates from life at seminary

Barth on Calvin

John Calvin is often given a bad rap today as some cold, dry, nasty man who promulgated hopelessly fatalistic doctrines and basically established a intellectually elitist sort of dry orthodoxy. Well, needless to say, such claims are fairly ridiculous. Calvin, while quite fallible, was in fact an eminently pastoral man and one of the church’s greatest theologians. Here is what Karl Barth, one of the most important theologians of the 20th century, famously had to say about him (and forgive his political incorrectness, this was written before all of that happened):

Calvin is a cataract, a primeval forest, a demonic power, something directly down from the Himalayas; absolutely Chinese, strange, mythological, I lack completely the means, the suction cups, even to assimilate this phenomenon, not to speak of presenting it adequately. What I receive is only a thin little stream and what I can then give out again is only a yet thinner extract of this little stream. I could gladly and profitably set myself down and spend all the rest of my life just with Calvin.
-Karl Barth


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