Worst Theologian Ever?

I have a particular fondness for strong opinions, Best/Worst lists, and theology. You don’t often find all three in the same place but Fred Sander’s hits that trifecta in his post “Karl Bahrdt, Worst Theologian Ever.” (No, not Karl Barth, Karl Bahrdt.)

A Lutheran preacher’s kid, Bahrdt started studying theology in 1757 in Leipzig, at age sixteen. He became famous for “pranks,” one of which included using Faust’s magic symbols to try to summon demons. . . . These shenanigans led somebody to appoint him as a lecturer on the Bible by age 20. And he kept climbing the academic ladder: a doctorate from Erlangen, a post at Erfurt, a move to Giessen. He had mistresses, saw prostitutes, fathered and abandoned numerous illegitimate children, left his wife, and had creditors always at his heels.

And that’s just the beginning of his antics. Barhdt sounds like a crazy mix of Albert Schweitzer, Anton Lavey, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the Marquis de Sade, and Dan Brown.

I had never heard of Barhdt before (and probably won’t again) but its useful to have a reference point in the category of “worst theologian.” If Bardht is the worst, who should be considered the runner up for the title of worst theologian ever?

  • Daniel O

    If Bardht is the standard for worse, then runner up must be John Loftus. Raised a Christian, studied theology and apologetics, had an affair, lost his marriage, left his faith and is not hell bent in destroying it.


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