Book Review: Dogmatics in Outline
Author: Karl Barth
Publisher: Harper & Row Publishing
Reading Level: Moderate
"Where the life of the church is exhausted in self-serving, it smacks of death." (146)
Karl Barth's Dogmatics in Outline is a summary of the Apostle's Creed from 1946. Barth calls them "merely an outline of the multi-volume Dogmatik" (6). This is to sell them short. Anyone who can state, as Barth did of the concluding lectures, that "now they are published, I notice their weak points and will not grumble at any reviewer who brings them to my attention" (8) deserves to be read as one who is critical of all words — including their own.
Dogmatics in Outline is not without fault. Nor will any reader walk away without disagreements (apparently even Barth). Yet still, Barth is a masterful guide through the Apostle's Creed from the Reformed tradition providing insights and thoughts that the modern church needs to hear. His usage of the Heidelberg Catechism throughout his exposition provides great historical light and reveals that many of his insights are not novel. Yet, he would still call these lectures "a document of our time" (8).
Though the setting is formal, Barth's teaching is quite straightforward. While a general knowledge of the Apostle's Creed will help a reader, Barth expounds upon the creed without any presuppositions. In many cases, his challenges to liberal theology remind of modern problems the church still faces. Any Christian seeking an introduction — or refresher — on Karl Barth will benefit from the reading of Dogmatics in Outline.
"Where God's grace is rejected, man rushes into his own mischief." (106)