Choice Quotations: Karl Barth presents, “Pastor vs. Prophet”

"A prophet is, in all things, precisely the opposite of that which most people expect from a pastor these days and of that which most pastors have really been…Of a pastor people think: he is our employee. We have chosen him and we pay him and therefore it is the first responsibility of his office to strive to get along with everyone, to be nice to everyone and give offence to no one. The prophet is the employee of God. For him, it is a matter of indifference what people think of him and what they do to him. He cannot be comfortable with those to whom he is sent. He knows that if he does his duty, they will be shocked by him and indignant. Of a pastor, people expect above all that he preserve and care for the old customs…The prophet is the representative of the unaccustomed…he says: Either-Or!"
From Karl Barth’s sermon of May 4, 1913 – as quoted in McCormack, Karl Barth’s Critically Realistic Dialectical Theology, 99-100.


Shane said…
The reference to Kierkegaard's Either/Or is very intersting. This is an early text, but it is nice to know that Kierkegaard is somewhere in the back of Barth's mind.

Barth received a Kierkegaard prize at some point, and he did homage to Kierkegaard (in a way) during his speech for the occasion. He said, "We must all pass through the school of Kierkegaard." What a cheeky comment!
Shane said…
where could i find that speech?
In a book with the following unfortunate title: Fragments: Grave and Gay
A beautiful quote. Too bad the majority of socially indifferent people go on to be theologians while the pop-stars becomeLe pastors :-)

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