A study of the doctrine of evil and theodicy in the theology of Karl Barth
This study seeks: 1) to demonstrate that there are four dominant motifs in Barth's theology which provide essential insight for a proper understanding of his doctrine of evil, 2) to prove the centrality and trace the development of these motifs, 3) to analyse each motif for its strengths and weaknesses and develop a critique of Barth's doctrine of evil, and 4) to construct from his doctrine of evil a 'Barthian theodicy' with implications for preaching, counselling and Christian ethics. These motifs are: 1) the 'Necessary Antithesis' between evil and God's eternal plan for creation; 2) the 'Right and Left Hand of God' where evil is permitted and granted its power and role according to God's non-willing; 3) Barth's 'Noetic Eschatology' in which the completion of the redemption of humanity at the final parousia is seen in wholly revelatory terms; and 4) Barth's 'Revelatory Positivism' in which Barth seeks to describe and not explain revelation, thus allowing mystery and paradox as the natural result of the limitation of human knowledge. The position is taken that suffering must be studied according to five categories to understand its relationship to evil from a Biblical perspective: 1) as the result of sin, 2) as chastisement and correction from God, 3) for the sake of testing and strengthening faith, 4) as a result of faith and obedience, 5) as a result of the sinful state of the world. The develoment of these motifs, the study of suffering, and the major criticisms of Barth's doctrine of evil are traced through Barth's whole career with primary emphasis given to five sections in the Church Dogmatics. The conclusion posits a Barthian theodicy, sets it in dialogue with four forms of the classical theodicy question, and provides practical ways in which this theodicy can serve the body of Christ.