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Title: God's non-capricious no : Karl Barth's 'purified infralapsarianism' in development 1920-1953
Author: Tseng, Shao Kai
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This dissertation comprises three parts, setting forth the thesis that Karl Barth’s mature doctrine of election, though avowedly supralapsarian, is in fact basically the opposite. I trace the development of Barth’s lapsarian thinking from its inception in 1920 (Romans II) to its maturation in 1936-42 (Gottes Gnadenwahl to CD II/2), and further developments up to 1953 (CD IV/1). The thesis of my dissertation comprises two aspects, one concerning what lapsarian position, Christological and predestinarian, underlies the Christocentric doctrine of election Barth developed in 1936-42, and the other concerning how he came to develop this lapsarian view. Part I examines the lapsarian position of Barth’s mature doctrine of election set forth in CD II/2 against the background of the Lapsarian Controversy in seventeenth-century Reformed orthodoxy, arguing that he has misunderstood some seventeenth-century terms and that his position is in fact basically in line with infralapsarianism in that for him both election and the incarnation presuppose humankind’s fallenness. Part II traces the development of Barth’s lapsarian position from its inception in 1920 to its Christological reorientation in 1936-42. In a nutshell, my thesis in Part II is that Christology and predestination started out as two loosely related doctrines in Barth’s theology, but as predestination, which was inconsistently supralapsarian during the first phase of the development, was drawn closer to Christology, which carried infralapsarian tendencies at first and became infralapsarian in the 1920s, Barth’s doctrine of predestination became more and more infralapsarian, and then in 1936-42 the two doctrines merged and became inseparable, and he became basically infralapsarian in both Christology and predestination. Part III comprises two chapters exploring doctrinal implications and further developments of Barth’s Christological-predestinarian infralapsarianism up to 1953 (CD IV/1). I argue that in developing what I suggest we call his “purified infralapsarianism” in a deeply historical-actualistic direction, the basically infralapsarian character of Barth’s understanding of election in Christ becomes more radical in that he leaves no room for the possibility of homo nondum lapsus as the obiectum praedestinationis.
Supervisor: Rasmussen, Joel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Modern theology ; Barth ; lapsarian controversy ; supralapsarianism ; infralapsarianism