Donald K. McKim
Cascade Books, 158 pages
Very few people will read Karl Barth at length. Barth wryly chuckled that he was not up to the task, imagining himself at the end of life pushing the wheelbarrow filled with his massive “Church Dogmatics.” Yet, Barth, like Bonhoeffer, remains an influential figure for pastors and congregants seeking theological guidance. Hence, Donald McKim has done the church a great favor by providing this brief introduction to Barth’s theology, continuing his series that includes Calvin, Luther and Bonhoeffer. McKim’s purpose is to “present insights from important theologians in a form that will be accessible and of interest to laypersons and those who have not engaged in formal theological study.” He has succeeded in that task.
The method is plain: Begin with a quote of Barth and proceed to examine it more closely in a devotional format that is easily digestible. The goal is also plain: Help Christians follow Jesus Christ with joy. The book has a generous sample of Barth’s writings arranged in two sections: believing as a Christian and living as a Christian. McKim, a theologian himself, has the capacity to bring the depth of Barth’s work to the surface and provoke more personal reflections.
I have been reading Karl Barth for over 30 years. I find this to be a daunting, challenging and often astonishing practice. This book provided another delightful way to ponder the theologian who, McKim reminds us, once said: “The Christian life begins with love. It also ends with love, so far as it has an end as human life in time.” Imagine if elders and deacons, along with their pastors, had breakfast with Barth and Bonhoeffer, not to mention Calvin and Luther.