Author: LI Zhixiong (Robert C. LI), Professor, College of Literature and Journalism, Xiangtan University
In Marquardt’s 1972 book Theology and Socialism: The Example of Karl Barth, he claimed that Barth had developed a socialist content to his theology long before contemporary dialogue between Christians and Marxists. However, Marquardt’s remarks about Barth’s socialism are too general to allow us to define its development and characteristics. This article hopes to focus on Barth’s early theology and explore the characteristics of Barth’s socialist ideas in this early stage by looking through Barth’s own views on socialism and other people’s remarks on Barth. The author argues that apart from being influenced by Christian socialism, religious socialism, Marxism and Leninism, the socialist thought in Barth’s early theology was “Gospel socialism in Praxis”, developed while he was a pastor in Safenwil and dealing with workers’ problems. Barth holds the following socialist ideas: that the Kingdom of God was for the poor; that Jesus rejected the concept of private property; that the demands of socialists are an important part of an effective Gospel; that Christians can change the world through action via socialism because God is at work. Studying the socialism of Barth’s early thought can help illuminate the absurdity of the so-called “inevitable ideological conflict” between Marxism and Christian culture.
Karl Barth's Early Theology; Christian Socialism; Gospel Socialism in Praxis; Marxism; Friedrich-Wilhelm Marquardt
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