About Providence, Divine Action and the Church

In this blog, Terry J. Wright posts thoughts and shares research on the Christian doctrine of providence. This doctrine testifies to God’s provision for all things through creation’s high priest, the man Christ Jesus. However, the precise meaning and manner of this provision is a perpetually open question, and this blog is a forum for discussion of the many issues relating to providence and the place of the Church within God’s action.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Barth (again)

Two books on Barth and providence have recently been published, one of which I hope to review at some point soon (in terms of this blog, 'soon' actually means 2013 or even 2014).

Christopher C. Green, Doxological Theology: Karl Barth on Divine Providence, Evil and the Angels. T&T Clark Studies in Systematic Theology (London: T&T Clark, 2011)
This is an examination of Barth's understanding of God's providence and the Reformed theology of Prayer, based on CD III/3. In 1949, Karl Barth confidently upholds a high doctrine of divine providence, maintaining God's control of every event in history. His argument is at once cheerful, but also defiant in the face of a Europe that is war-weary and doubtful of the full sovereignty of God. Barth's movement to praise God shows his affinity for the Reformed theological tradition. While Barth often distances himself from his Calvinist predecessors in important ways, he sees his own view of providence to be a positive reworking of the Reformed position in order to maintain what he understands as its most important insights: the praiseworthiness of the God of providence and the doxology of the creature. "Doxological Theology" investigates how the theologian, in response to the praiseworthy God of the Reformed tradition, is expected to pray his or her way through the doctrine of providence.

Darren M. Kennedy, Providence and Personalism: Karl Barth in Conversation with Austin Farrer, John Macmurray and Vincent Brümmer (Peter Lang: Oxford, 2011)
Karl Barth offered Church Dogmatics III.3 as a 'radical correction' of Reformed Orthodoxy's doctrine of providence. This book assesses this claim and argues that III.3 represents a 'personalist' revision of providence which can only be understood through Barth's ad hoc use of philosophical resources. Barth's doctrine of providence remains theology proper, and not philosophy, but cannot be understood without philosophy. Setting Barth in conversation with three philosophical theologians, Vincent Brümmer, John Macmurray and Austin Farrer, this book shows Barth's distance from pre-modern understandings of providence. The conversations equip the reader to discern the continuities and discontinuities between III.3 and twentieth-century personal, relational philosophy, thereby making sense of many of Barth's counterintuitive claims. Through contrast with the philosophical theologians, Barth's Christocentric and Trinitarian articulation gains clarity and significance. Building on these philosophical comparisons, this book assesses Barth's contributions to debates concerning history as determined by divine action, human freedom under providence and the problem of evil.

On a slightly different note, I've updated bibliographies C and G. Thanks, Chris and James.

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