The Magazine

The Theologian and the Historian

When Barth met Schlesinger.

Mar 19, 2007, Vol. 12, No. 26 • By ERNEST W. LEFEVER
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Six years later, in 1968, Karl Barth died in Basel. He was 82. Some obituaries bracketed him with Augustine, Aquinas, Martin Luther, and John Calvin, each of whom had made seminal contributions to the understanding of Christianity and politics. Regrettably, Barth does not belong in this venerable company. He was simply too otherworldly to comprehend the wonder and tragedy of the human drama, much less to speak truth to those entrusted with the fateful decisions of our time. Barth was a great theologian, Schlesinger a competent historian, and Mozart a timeless artist.

Ernest W. Lefever was founding president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he is now a senior fellow. He is the author of The Irony of Virtue.