The Trinitarian Theology of Karl Barth

Jun 17, 2023
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Kristóf Oltvai University of Chicago

The Lumen Christi Institute has designed this two-day seminar to introduce major themes and debates from the Catholic Church's history to a wide online audience. It offers the opportunity to read primary sources in the context of a seminar-style discussion, led by Catholic faculty.  

The enrollment fee for this short course is $95 USD. Because we believe the Catholic Intellectual Tradition should be made available to everyone, a limited number of scholarships are available. Contact for more details. 

This is one of three short courses hosted by the Lumen Christi Institute this summer. If you would like to take a deep dive into the Church's tradition by signing up for all three short courses for the discounted price of $200, you can do so HERE.

When we say “God is love,” what do we really mean? The renewed attention to the dogma of the Trinity so important to the last century of Catholic theology gets to the heart of this question. Standing in the background of this development, though, is a Protestant theologian whom Pope Pius XII allegedly called “the greatest since Thomas Aquinas”: Karl Barth. In this seminar, we will look at Barth’s understanding of the Trinity using short selections from his masterpiece, the Church Dogmatics. We will explore how, for Barth, the biblical idea of a covenant is that of an exclusive, noninterchangeable partnership between a superior lover who chooses and a subordinate beloved who is chosen. This means, in his interpretation, that the relationships between God and the world—and between man and woman—mirror, in time, a covenant between God the Father and God the Son in eternity. We will thus ask if Barth offers us a way of thinking about human participation in God’s Triune life that lets the human be made holy or even godlike while still respecting the human creature’s physical and intellectual limits. 



Session 1: Tuesday, June 13: 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Session 2: Saturday, June 17: 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Session 3: Saturday, June 17: 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM



Session 1:

  • Church Dogmatics II/2, pp. 175-181 (selection from “The Eternal Will of God in the Election of Jesus Christ”)
  • Church Dogmatics, IV/1, pp. 200-205 (selection from “The Way of the Son of God into the Far Country”)

Session 2:

  • Church Dogmatics III/1, pp. 42-53, 288-291, & 311-324 (selections from “Creation, History, and Creation History” and “The Covenant as the Internal Basis of Creation”)

Session 3: (note: please read in this order

  • Church Dogmatics IV/2, pp. 20-31 (selection from “The Homecoming of the Son of Man”)
  • Church Dogmatics IV/1, pp. 259-273 (selection from “The Judge Judged in Our Place”)

​​*Pdfs. of all readings will be provided to participants.