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Barth's Ethics of Reconciliation

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Barth's Ethics of Reconciliation.pdf | Language: English

It is arguable that one of the most serious obstacles to a proper appreciation of Barth's magnum opus is an inadequate grasp of the fact that the Church Dogmatics is a work of moral theology as well as of systematics. A failure to take this point seriously often lies behind critiques of Barth's theology generally, when he is accused of being abstracted from the world of human history and action. By reinterpreting Barth's work as an ethical dogmatics, Webster shows that such readings are all too often abortive from the beginning.

"While Webster's presentation is noteworthy for its lucidity and comprehension, this book requires sustained effort by its readers. For the pastor who persists in that task, the benefits for ministerial understanding and practices are well-worth the labor. Barth's Christocentric focus, his biblical grounding, his grace-permeated theology, and his profound pastoral orientation all come to expression in this superlative exposition of his ethical thinking. He remains the premier `church theologian' of our century, and a superb conversation partner for those called to be `ministers of the Word.' Trinity Seminary Reviews"Webster's study reveals Barth to be a fierce and relentless critic of modernity's loss of a stable ethic; his writing makes clear that any ethic of reconciliation is not possible without the salvific image of Christ at the center." Christianity and Literature"This first rate commentary upon church Dogmatics raises up detailed discussion of the ethical dimensions of Barth's systematics....Here we are given a more integral way of discussing the moral aspects of this theology that finds itself tacitly challenging much that has been written about Barth's ethics. Highly recommended." The Reader's Review"This well crafted monograph should be required reading for any student of Barth and for others who have a serious interest in the relationship between theology and ethics." Nigel Biggar, Religious Studies Review"...fine analysis....Webster focusses on the themes of human agency in relation to God's action in Christ..." Nigel Biggar, Religious Studies Review"This fine book makes an important contribution to both the interpretation of Barth and to a Christian theological account of human agency....Webster succeeds in his central constructive intent of drawing out of the texts of Barth an ethical dogmatics that contributes both to the interpretation of Barth and to developing a theological account of human agency." James J. Buckley, Pro Ecclesia It is arguable that one of the most serious obstacles to a proper appreciation of Barth's magnum opus is an inadequate grasp of the fact that the Church Dogmatics is a work of moral theology as well as of systematics. A failure to take this point seriously often lies behind critiques of Barth's theology generally, when he is accused of being abstracted from the world of human history and action. By re-interpreting Barth's work as an ethical dogmatics, Webster shows that such readings are all too often abortive from the beginning.

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Book details

  • PDF | 252 pages
  • Cambridge University Press; First Edition Presumed 1st Printing edition (June 30, 1995)
  • English
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Review Text

  • By David M Goetz on September 4, 2016

    Webster successfully shows here that Barth's dogmatics is, as he himself claimed, an ethical dogmatics. Basically this volume is a commentary on the last sections of the Church Dogmatics and on some of Barth's other late ethical writings.You'll find lots of discussion here of moral ontology--how any comments on what constitutes good human action presuppose a particular construal of what is the case. For the Christian, moral action must respond to and correspond to the action of God as creator, reconciler, and perfecter. You'll find lots of discussion of how divine action evokes human correspondences. You'll find lots of discussion, especially in the later chapters, on the "vocative structure of Christian ethics" (184) and on invocation of God as Father as the fundamental Christian act.The question of the "vocative structure of Christian ethics" is a fascinating one to me. Before wrestling with Barth's ethics, I'd come on my own to criticize the typical Christian rejection of moral relativism. We're so quick to reject moral relativism and anything that smacks of it that we end up, in seeking to contrast ourselves clearly from the world, looking for absolute rules that govern human action (listen to Derek Webb's song "New Law" on this point). But it's important for us to see that morality is relative in a significant sense. The only moral absolute, as I have come to frame it, is, "Hear and heed the Word of the Lord." Every moment requires fresh attentiveness to the voice of God, for we cannot assume we know what to do in a given situation simply because we've been through a similar situation in the past (consider Moses striking the rock!). Anyway, I came to think all of this more or less independent of Barth and Webster, but it's been refreshing to encounter this way of thinking in these two much more intelligent and thoughtful men.Last of all, Webster's exposition of Barth's exposition of the Lord's Prayer is superb.Recommended for ethicists, those interested in Barth, and pastors who find it too easy to dole out specific ethical admonitions.


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