The Pneumatology of Karl Barth

The Pneumatology of Karl Barth


This is an introductory paper on the pneumatology of Karl Barth. Barth's pneumatology penetrates into each and every part of his theological loci. Since he was not able to write volume V of his Church Dogmatics, which was supposedly to contain pneumatology as a locus, this study will summarize his pneumatology from his various theological loci. This includes his doctrines of Christology, revelation, trinity, creation, and ecclesiology. The thesis of the paper is that Barth's pneumatology is Christ -centered, and that he conceives of the Holy Spirit as both the One who mediates and the One who binds together.

As Barth's pneumatology is Christ-centered, the paper begins with an exposition of the intimate relationship between Christ and the Spirit. The Spirit not only bears witness to Christ but, more so, the content of the activity of the Spirit is Christ himself. This naturally leads to the question of Barth's epistemological basis—revelation. Barth's position is that the Spirit possibility constitutes the subjective reality and of revelation. The revealing God is engaged in creation centering on the human being, in whom the Spirit has an indispensable role in constituting the human person. Besides creation, the revealing God is also involved in reconciliation, in which the Holy Spirit is responsible for the gathering, upbuilding and sending of the Christian community. As such the being and act of the church do not hinge upon believers, but is totally dependent on the action of the Holy Spirit, making and remaking it, preserving and binding believers together for communion, and sending it out to mediate the gospel to the world.

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