I’ve heard it recounted in countless sermons and read it in numerous articles on Karl Barth. Depending on who is telling the story Barth was asked to summarize his dogmatics (or his life’s work, or tell the most profound thing he had ever read) to which he replied, “Jesus loves me. This I know for the Bible tells me so.” Roger Olson has asked if anyone can actually confirm this or is it simple folk legend. When I googled it I found numerous recountings of the incident but few of them commented of whether it happend or not. One author stated,

“None of the Barth scholars I know can footnote this thing with precision. Supposedly it was during his American tour in the 60s, but I have listened to all the tapes of at least his Chicago lectures, and this does not occur during the taped Q & A.”

But he quickly adds,

“But the Barth-Jesus-Loves-Me story sounds true, and it’s the kind of thing he would have done.  Barth certainly did do things like get 9,000 pages into his Church Dogmatics and suddenly devote a couple dozen pages to a close theological reading of John 3:16. Or pay tribute to the profundity of childrens songs and their influence on an adult theologian’s point of view.”

It will be interesting to see if anyone answers Olson’s challenge.

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