Category Archives: Brunner

Eternal Hope

I think we could all do with a nice dose of Emil Brunner right about now.  And his little book Eternal Hope is just the thing.  And you can read it free.  Enjoy.

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Posted by on 21 May 2018 in Brunner


Karl Barth, The ‘Kind of Doctor Who Doesn’t Help Anyone’

The story is told- and I don’t know if it’s true or not- that shortly after Karl received his VERY well deserved doctorandus honoris causa his little son Markus was playing with a school-mate and his little friend asked him what kind of Doctor his father Karl was, Markus is said to have quipped

‘The kind that doesn’t help anyone’.

Karl apparently loved to tell that story and it is cute.  But if one were to ask Emil Brunner what he thought his reaction might well have been a bit different.  Brunner took theology quite seriously and believed that there was no higher or more important calling or work.  For him, Karl was – qua theologian – the precise sort of Doctor who DOES help people and in fact helped in matters far more important than a mere MD or Podiatrist or Gynecologist or whatever.

Karl did too.  But just not as seriously as Brunner.  That’s why I call Karl the Neo-Calvin and Brunner the Neo-Zwingli.  Thankfully, there has only ever been one Luther.

NB- By the by, Charlotte v. Kirschbaum always thought Karl was ‘very’ helpful… *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*.

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Posted by on 15 May 2018 in Brunner, Calvin, Zwingli


Karl Barth Couldn’t Do It But Emil Brunner Did- Brilliantly

‘It’ is complete a systematic theology. Barth couldn’t manage it (probably because he spent too much time at the Bergli and its ‘distractions’) but Brunner can, could, and did.

It was on the 14th of May, 1960 that Emil Brunner published the third volume of his fantastic Dogmatics. With the publication of that impressive volume, again, Brunner achieved what Barth never managed- the completion of a systematic theology.

Brunner was the most insightful of the 20th century theologians.  His work is still very much worth reading, even 50 years after its first appearance.

And he did it all in the old fashioned way- by actually reading books and typing on paper.  With that ancient technology he accomplished more than 99% of our modern theologians with all their tools and means.  Because, it has to be said, he was a thinker and a Churchman.  Far too many modern theologians are neither.

So do yourself a favor and read a bit of Brunner’s Third today.

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Posted by on 14 May 2018 in Brunner, Modern Culture


The Biggest Need in Today’s World is…

That EVERYONE who thinks they know what the Church is, should be, or how it should do its task should, must, needs to, should be required to read Emil Brunner’s ‘The Misunderstanding of the Church‘.

From now on, whenever some tweet or facebook post or any blog post mentions the Church I’m going to ask if they’ve read this book.  If they haven’t, they have no business talking about the Church.

It’s in PDF.  It’s free.  You are without excuse.


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Posted by on 9 May 2018 in Books, Brunner


Today with Emil Brunner

brunner83Emil Brunner received one of his several Honorary Doctorates – this one from the University of Oslo in 1946.  He was very deserving of such honors and, unlike his contemporary Karl Barth, wrote well and concisely.

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Posted by on 7 May 2018 in Brunner


What is Natural Theology

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Posted by on 24 Apr 2018 in Brunner


Emil Brunner’s Theology of Preaching

brunner83Thanks to Carl Sweatman for the heads up about this

Perhaps at no other time in the history of the Christian church have the function and purposes of Christian proclamation in general, and preaching in particular, been so scrutinized as in the last twenty years. In the judgment of many, the crisis of the Christian church today-its apathy and enervation in the face of modern problems, its unreality and shopworn moralism-at its heart, is the crisis of preaching.’ Careful scholarship has shown that the Christian church arose as the response to kerygmatic preaching,= a fact which Paul attests out of experience when he notes that faith comes from preaching (Rom IO : 17). If preaching was the principle vehicle which accounts for the authentic, dynamic fellowship of faith in the first century, then it seems most probable that the recovery of authority and relevance by Christianity would depend on solving the crisis of preaching.

Give it a look. Keep it. Treasure it. Learn from it.

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Posted by on 15 Apr 2018 in Brunner


Emil Brunner’s First Sermon

Preaching at the Fraumunster

Emil Brunner, freshly ordained, preached his inaugural sermon on the 14th of April in 1912.   Unlike so many theologians Brunner actually had Pastoral experience, and never abandoned the Pulpit for the lectern- serving in both his entire life, which is precisely what makes him so profoundly important and insightful.  The topic- almost as though he already knew his major path- was “Jesus: The Divine Man”.

His much later series of sermons on the Apostle’s Creed is moving and profound.

If you can track down his sermons, do so.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Posted by on 15 Apr 2018 in Brunner


The Best Bio of Brunner Yet Written

Anhand der Quellen, vor allem von Briefen, Tagebüchern und nicht publizierten Manuskripten, gibt Frank Jehle Einblick in Leben, Werk und Wirken Emil Brunners. Das theologische Werk des Schweizer Theologen steht im Zentrum dieser umfassenden Biographie: Mit «Der Mittler» hatte Brunner die erste ausgebaute Christologie der dialektischen Theologie vorgelegt. Seine Auseinandersetzung mit Karl Barth über die natürliche Theologie ist in die Theologiegeschichte eingegangen. Vor allem aber ragt Brunner als Ethiker hervor: «Das Gebot und die Ordnungen» von 1932 ist ein Meilenstein in der Geschichte der Sozialethik. Bestimmend war auch sein Einfluss auf die Weltkirchenkonferenz in Oxford 1937. Brunner wirkte mehrfach als Gastprofessor in den USA, nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg wagte er den Schritt nach Asien, u.a. nach Japan. – Erstmals dargestellt wird Brunners intensive Beziehung zu Leonhard Ragaz.Die hier vorliegende Biographie ist zugleich ein wichtiger Beitrag zur Theologiegeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts und zur Geschichte der Schweiz im und nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg.

Read it.  It is the perfect antidote for the Barthian misinformation about Brunner that too many gullible and silly people accept without question.

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Posted by on 6 Apr 2018 in Books, Brunner


Remember that time When Wipf and Stock Republished Brunner’s 3 Volume Dogmatics!

And couldn’t spell the word ‘Doctrine’…  (from SBL 2014).


* Sorry Wipfers, I just can’t control my impulses…

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Posted by on 6 Apr 2018 in Brunner


Two Out of Three: Emil Brunner’s Dogmatics Online

brunner83The first two volumes of Emil Brunner’s Christian Dogmatics are online-

Unfortunately volume three isn’t.  But maybe it will be soon.  Or you could just buy the print edition.  It’s very much worth it.

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Posted by on 6 Apr 2018 in Books, Brunner


Barth’s Last Word to Brunner

brunner5“Barth’s letter arrived on the morning of 5 April. Vogelsanger cycled to the clinic at Zollikerberg, and informed Brunner that “Karl Barth sends his greetings!” He then read Brunner this letter by his bedside. Brunner smiled, pressed his hand, and shortly afterwards lapsed into an uncon­sciousness from which he never reawakened. He died at noon on Wednesday, 6 April 1966 at the Neumünsterspital at Zollikerberg, near Zurich. His funeral at the Fraumünster in Zurich on 12 April 1966 was led by Vogelsanger. ” – Alister McGrath

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Posted by on 6 Apr 2018 in Books, Brunner, Modern Culture


Quote of the Day

brunner83Autonomous reason …, reason as the final court of appeal, is the real core of sin, the secret heart of the contradiction in the nature of man.  — Emil Brunner


Posted by on 6 Apr 2018 in Brunner


More Evidence that Emil Brunner Was the 20th Century’s Greatest Theological Mind

‘It is the Christian’s duty, in whatever economic order  he may be living, to swim against the current…’   — Emil Brunner

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Posted by on 6 Apr 2018 in Brunner, Theology


Emil Brunner is > Karl Barth



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Posted by on 6 Apr 2018 in Brunner


A Video From the Forum Celebrating the Life and Work of Brunner

Watch this.

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Posted by on 6 Apr 2018 in Brunner


In Memoriam Emil Brunner

April 6th, 1966 was the day the world lost the greatest theologian it had seen since Calvin:  Emil Brunner.  Brunner’s importance can’t be overstated and neither can his contributions to Christian theological inquiry.

I’ll be posting snippets from his works throughout the day.  In the meanwhile, here’s a slideshow of remembrance:

Preaching at the Fraumunster

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Posted by on 6 Apr 2018 in Brunner


A Day in Brunner History…

Or as I like to call it, Brunnersgeschichte– Brunner received an Honorary Doctorate (one of several)- from the International Christian University of Tokyo on Mar 26, 1966.

The whole world knew him to be brilliant.  Go, read some Brunner today.

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Posted by on 27 Mar 2018 in Brunner


Emil Brunner’s Final Letter to Karl Barth

It’s quite brief but also quite necessary…


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Posted by on 2 Feb 2018 in Brunner


If You Want to Understand People…

If you want to understand people, read Emil Brunner’s ‘Man in Revolt’, but translate the title properly- ‘Man in Contradiction’.


You’ll learn more from this one book than you have from every book Barth wrote and 10 times as much as NT Wright can teach you in a lifetime.

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Posted by on 28 Dec 2017 in Brunner