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Nations and Nationalism in the Theology of Karl Barth$
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Carys Moseley

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199668922

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199668922.001.0001

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Nationalism as Idolatry

Nationalism as Idolatry

(p.98) 3 Nationalism as Idolatry
Nations and Nationalism in the Theology of Karl Barth

Carys Moseley

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins by considering how Barth developed his pneumatology as a means of developing his homiletics in the early 1930s. His teaching in the Church Dogmatics on preaching a Pentecost sermon is discussed. The beliefs of the ‘German Christians’, those mainline protestants who incorporated German pagan and Nazi ideas into their thinking, is shown as the backdrop to Barth’s formation of the doctrine of the election of Israel and the Jewishness of Jesus in 1933. In light of this and of his pneumatology, nationalism is understood to be a form of idolatry and unfaithfulness to God. The chapter shows how despite this, when Barth wrote the Barmen Declaration he made no mention of Israel, thus as he later regretted, losing the opportunity to make a theological case for the human dignity and rights of Jews and other non-Christians facing the Nazi ideology.

Keywords:   pneumatology, homiletics, Pentecost, German Christians, Israel, idolatry, Barmen

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