When Barth discusses the humanity of God he is referring to the relationship that he believed God shared with man. It was his assertion that God communicated directly with man and as a result of his 'free grace'1 he 'wills to be nothing other than the God of man'2. The God that Barth discusses is rather different to the one that he had previously famously described as being 'overpoweringly lofty and distant' and as a result this lecture is seen by many as signalling a decisive change in his theology.Many believe that through reading the 'Humanity of God' it is possible to detect Barth's own introduction to his theology3. Indeed, within it he discusses his own early belief in liberal theology and why he had to move away from this, as well as going on to discuss some of the central themes that can be found within his mature work.4 Certainly, it is possible to see biographical strands, as at times Barth is deeply critical of his earlier work and confides that if he were asked to have spoken of the humanity of God within the 1920's he would have been 'embarrassed'5 as he 'was not occupied with it'.

6Within this lecture, Barth details many of the reasons why he chose to move away from the liberal theology that he was so taken with in his earlier years. Indeed, he had originally belonged to a broadly liberal school and scholars such as Herrmann had heavily influenced him with Barth describing how he had once 'absorbed' him 'through every pore'. In Berne, he had studied theology, learning all of modern Protestant theology and indeed studying with Harnack, an extremely popular theologian at the time. He also studied Kant systematically and followed Schliermacher, a theologian who he would later deeply criticise, despite remaining deeply in awe of him.In 'The Humanity of God' Barth primarily cites the outbreak of the First World War as the reason for his change in attitude as it caused him to see 'the failure of the ethics of the modern theology of the time'7.

He did not agree with the manner in which his liberal theology teachers had managed to ethically and theologically justify their signatures on Kaiser Wilhelm's war policy, stating how this demonstrated how they were 'hopelessly compromised by their submission to the ideology of war'8 . Indeed he was particularly disgusted with Harnack, who had actually written a speech for the Kaiser that supported the war9 and this caused Barth to declare that 'the theology of the nineteenth century has no future'.Yet the outbreak of war was not the sole reason for Barth's withdrawal from this form of theology and he details how his encounters with socialism and indeed the work of philosophers such as Blumhardt, Kierkegaard, Dostoevski and Overbeck were also highly influential.Barth then began to search for what he believed to be a more genuine form of theology and with the help of Thurneysen ,the readings of Johann and Blumhardt and through re-immersing himself in the bible and in particular the epistle of Paul to the Romans, Barth 'read and read and wrote and wrote'.

10 In turn he became part of a new theological movement where he describes how he found 'a circle of people to whose unrest my efforts promised answers'11. This new 'trend' that Barth became part of was known as dialectical theology, yet sadly it did not last long and by the 1920's the group had practically dissolved.Within the 'Humanity of God' Barth is rather critical of this earlier theology although he explains why he felt it was necessary, he elucidates the reasons for which he was only 'partially right'12. He describes how he had previously decided to move away from the prevalent theology of the time, as he could not condone the fact that the 'emotion of man'13 had become its main aim.

He also began to question the common interpretation of God, as then, to think of God 'meant to think in a scarcely veiled fashion about man'14. Hence he deemed it to be 'humanistic'15 and saw the danger of the notion of God 'being reduced to a pious notion, to a mystical expression'.16Barth takes the opportunity within this lecture to evaluate his earlier views and suggests that they were primarily in the wrong due to the fact that they could not carry through their notion of the deity of God. It seems they had formerly thought of God as being completely distinct and akin from man, perhaps summarised best in his famous description of him as being 'wholly other'.

He concludes that at the time they did not realise that 'the deity of the living God' was fundamentally recognizable in the dialogue that he shares with man. Indeed it is this very aspect that makes him a 'living God' and that demonstrates his human features.Barth goes on to strongly tie his ideas of the humanity of God to the person of Jesus Christ, hence placing a christological emphasis upon this concept. Indeed Barth is well known for this emphasis and Von Balthasar famously created a visual image of his theology in the form of an hour glass where everything has to pass through the middle point of Jesus Christ. Indeed within this lecture Barth describes Jesus as 'the mediator, the reconciler between God and man'17 and it is through Jesus that the covenant between God and man 'proclaims itself'18.

He even goes on to explain how the person of Jesus changes God from being a 'universal deity'19 to a 'concrete'20 one and that 'theology will really be theology when from beginning to end it is Christology'.21For Barth, Jesus reveals aspects of God to us and through the person of Jesus we are able to see how God's deity includes his humanity and within this deity Barth believed 'there is enough room for communion with man'22. Indeed Barth asserted that due to God's humanity he wants to be both our 'partner'23 and 'compassionate saviour'24 and that this humanity was primarily asserted in his affirmation of man and in his concern for him.In this particular lecture Barth ascertains that God sees man as his 'covenant-partner'25 and due to the humanity of God we must see every single human being as having God as a father, indeed, if they remain unaware of this then it lies within our duty to inform them. Yet he is quick to stress that man is only allowed this dialogue with God because God permits as a result of his humanity.

Indeed further evidence for the humanity of God is evident within the fact that man is 'rationally thinking'26 and is capable of making 'responsible and spontaneous decision'. 27It is apparent through reading this lecture that the concept of God that Barth discusses is extremely different to that of his earlier theology. Indeed, he even develops rather new concepts such as the 'upward' movement of grace, a concept that states that within Jesus Christ, God is present to all humanity and indeed within Jesus Christ all humanity is presented to God. This has caused many scholars to emphasise this change and hail the work as being extremely significant in itself. Certainly it is obvious that within his earlier theology Barth had not discussed in great detail either the majesty of God, his transcendent nature or his humanity.

Yet Barth is quick to stress that his ideas have simply developed as opposed to completely being transformed. Undeniably he is rather critical of previous work that he conducted and eloquently writes how 'what should really have been only a sad and friendly smile was a derisive laugh'.28In fact, Barth struggled for several years with regards to how to speak properly of God and it was only within the 1930's that he was to outline his theology within the twelve volumes of the Church Dogmatics that he followed for the rest of his life. It seems that one of the problems that Barth had previously struggled with was the notion of how to speak of God and indeed preach his Word without it primarily being understood as the word of man.

Indeed he discussed with his contemporaries the problem that 'as ministers we ought to speak the word of God, we are human however, and cannot speak of God'. Yet it is clear from 'The Humanity of God' that Barth managed to find a cohesive manner in which to talk of God and indeed educate others as to his very nature.As a form of justification for his beliefs Barth discusses how his earlier theology was influenced by his situation and it does seem that the ten years he spent as a pastor in the small town of Safenwil in Aargan29 were extremely relevant. Barth often described how through the realities he was faced with he was able to make some life changing decisions as 'the class welfare, which was going on in my parish, before my very eyes introduced me almost for the first time to the real problems of real life'30. This, amongst other things led him to question his own belief system and when he broke away from the other theologians of his time he was able to discover a greater theological freedom and his work, it seems, greatly improved. Indeed Barth himself writes how he felt he was able to 'say everything far more clearly, unambiguously and simply, than I could ever say it before'.

31However, it is often difficult to read such a unique account of God and not find it as being a significant piece in Barth's theology due to the picture that he presents of God. Within his early study of Romans he had described God as being 'wholly other' and completely different from human expectations and desires. Such was the response to this work that Karl Adam describes it like 'a bomb falling on the playground of theologians'. It is therefore difficult not to see a significant development and albeit a possible contradiction within the work that proposes that God has a unique and personal relationship with man and through the medium of Jesus Christ he is able to communicate with man.

Despite this, the importance of Karl Barth within modern theology cannot be understated and Webster has even hailed him as 'the most important Protestant theologian since Schleiermacher' and discusses how he 'decisively reorganized an entire religion'. Hartwell also reflects how his theology is representative of a 'Copernican turn in the history of human thought' suggesting that his work is extremely influential, whether one finds contradictions there or not.In conclusion, it is clear that within his lecture on the humanity of God, Barth develops his earlier theology to such an extent that the notion of God is transformed from being that of a remote and distant being into a rather personal being that we each may enjoy a unique relationship with through the person of Jesus Christ. Due to this substantial transgression in his theology many recognize this work as being deeply significant, Barth himself disputes this, so it remains up to the individual reader to ascertain whether this lecture is symbolic of a deep change within Barth's work or is simply a natural transgression from his earlier work.