The Only Sacrament Left to Us: The Threefold Word of God in the Theology and Ecclesiology of Karl Barth

By Thomas Christian Currie

A new reading of Karl Barth’s doctrine of the threefold Word of God and the unexpected and fruitful role that it plays in Barth’s theology of the church.

ISBN: 9780227175675


Questions of ecclesiology abound, and Karl Barth has been regarded as an unhelpful conversation partner and guide for those who care about ecclesiology and the place of the church in the academic pursuit of theology. The Only Sacrament Left to Us recovers Barth’s doctrine of the threefold Word of God and shows that it is at the heart of his ecclesiological commitments, and that he offers a distinct and robust doctrine of the church worthy to be carried forward into the twenty-first-century debates about the church’s place in God’s economy. Thomas Christian Currie explores the central role of the threefold Word of God in Barth’s theology of the church, explains its place in Barth’s later doctrine of reconciliation, and seeks to engage the field of Barth studies with contemporary ecclesiological questions.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

Thomas Christian Currie is Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Louisiana, and recently completed a PhD in Systematic Theology at the University of Edinburgh. He currently serves on the editorial board of the Scottish Parliamentary Review and has published numerous articles for The Presbyterian Outlook and its Outpost blog.



1. The Threefold Word of God and Proclamation
2. The Threefold Word of God and the Holy Spirit
3. The Threefold Word of God as Ecclesiology
4. What Happens to the Threefold Word of God: Revision or Rejection?
5. The Threefold Word of God Today: Why It Matters
6. Conclusion



Endorsements and Reviews

This book is the first major volume to explore the profound connection between the threefold Word of God and the theology of the church in the work of Karl Barth. In drawing attention to this link, and in analysing its historical development, doctrinal content, and practical significance, Currie makes a profound contribution to contemporary conversations in Barth studies. But even more than this, Currie offers a compelling vision for the church in general, advocating the ongoing relevance and dynamic centrality of this threefold Word of God, especially in its dimension of proclamation, in the Christian community today. This is an informed, insightful, and generative work that merits careful attention from both theologians and pastors.
Paul T. Nimmo, Chair in Systematic Theology, University of Aberdeen

There’s not much wrong with the illnesses of contemporary preaching that can’t be cured with a strong dose of theology. Thomas Christian Currie administers just that remedy. Currie gives us a fresh, invigorating reading of Karl Barth’s doctrine of the threefold Word of God. He shows how Barth gives Christian proclamation renewed authorisation and justification. Here’s a rare gift: theology for preaching by one who is not only an informed theologian but also a lover of the challenge of Christian preaching.
Will Willimon, Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry, Duke Divinity School

Thomas Christian Currie surveys the fault lines between Barth’s opening doctrine of revelation and his later doctrine of reconciliation. Does Barth’s turn to Jesus Christ alone as God’s sovereign word to the whole world displace his earlier emphasis on the church’s mediating proclamation of the Scriptures in sermon and sacrament as the divine word’s promised means of grace? While some have argued so, Currie’s new mapping of the terrain of Barth’s thought shows how the threefold Word of God continues to matter for the mission of the church in service to the world.
James F. Kay, Dean of Princeton Theological Seminary

This book would be extremely beneficial and worthwhile to those who preach and teach on a regular basis … as long as the overall goal of the book – a call for the church to be dynamic and not static – is kept in mind, those who may be preconditioned to be wary of Barth should not shy away from picking up this book.
Charles Kim, in Theological Book Review, Vol 28, No 1