God's eternal election in the theology of Karl Barth
This study aims to clarify some vital characteristics of Karl Barth's doctrine of election (Church Dogmatics, vol. 2, part 2). It first examines the charge of universalism against Barth's doctrine of election. That Barth neither accepts nor refuses universalism produces two apparently contradictory interpretations: predeterminism (universal and past election) and personalism (individual and present election). This contradictory feature requires the investigation of Barth's doctrine of time and eternity, which ultimately comprises two significant statements: (1) the triune being of God is the ultimate foundation of time, and (2), in Jesus Christ, time is qualified objectively as turning, and subjectively as the chance to respond to God. The first statement brings about two consequences: (1) the revelation in Jesus Christ is substantially identical with the pre-temporal election, (2) theology is conditioned by God and predestination. They result in the revised view of the causal scheme of thought, in which cause (predestination) precedes, as well as materially predominates and accompanies, history. The second statement brings about four consequences: (1) time's objective qualification signifies the temporal dimension of double predestination in Jesus Christ, (2) its subjective qualification signifies the importance of faith, (3) theological ethics complements the doctrine of election, and (4) election itself can be characterized as God's qualifying action toward human beings, which determines and characterizes them objectively as the elect, and also contains the analogans of human subjective response to election. In conclusion, it is argued that Barth is not a universalist. Also, despite the problems in his biblical interpretation, pneumatology, and view of Israel, Barth's doctrine of election is significant for theology today. It is a touchstone which exposes the thoroughly anthropocentric nature of contemporary universalism. Barth's theology, moreover, is vital for Christianity in order to recover its identity in the face of contemporary secularization and pluralism.