An analysis of Karl Barth's theological anthropology as a basis for an ethic of social justice and human rights, with application to the case of apartheid in South Africa
The purpose of this thesis will be to explore some aspects of Barth's theological anthropology in an attempt to show that Barth's concept of the neighbour as ethical criterion is a basis for perceiving and seeking the good of human life. The attempt will be to demonstrate that Barth's construct of neighbour as ethical criterion can be understood in terms of his theological anthropology. That is, through fellow-humanity as the basic form of humanity, the command of God to "humanise", as the basis for ethical responsibility can be heard in a universal and public sense as that which determines the basis for moral reason. It is true, according to Barth, that the motivations for moral decisions and moral actions cannot be based on formal, universal moral principles. But what is argued here is that on the material level the content of the moral agenda as well as the consequence of moral action can be a matter of common discussion and action between Christian and non-Christian when the issue of human rights is at stake. I will argue against the critics who claim that Barth's theological ethics are sectarian and not applicable to universal moral standards of conduct. I will show that these critics misunderstand Barth in locating his ethics in the formal principle of the command of God. Rather, I will argue that his theological ethics are derived out of the material content of human relationships; that is, the concreteness of the neighbour, as a form of the command of God.