Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Barth's final advice

Karl Barth refused to salute or sign allegiance to the Führer. He was a founding member of the Confessing Church in Germany, which refused to join the majority of Christians in support for Hitler. Barth singlehandedly drafted most of the famous Barmen declaration. Knowing he would not be popular with the authorities, he drafted a farewell speech to his students. The SS arrived before he could deliver it:

We have been studying cheerfully and seriously. As far as I was concerned it could have continued in that way and I had already resigned myself to having my grave here by the Rhine! I had plans for the future with other colleagues who are either no longer here or have been away for a long time - but there has been a frost on our spring night! And now the end has come. So listen to my last piece of advice: exegesis, exegesis, and yet more exegesis! Keep to the Word, to the scripture that has been given us.

- Karl Barth, 'Das Evangelium in der Gegenwart', Theologische Existenz heute 25 (1935), 16ff.