Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.619158
Title: The powers and the power of mammon : Karl Barth and John Howard Yoder in dialogue
Author: Prather, Scott Thomas
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2011
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Abstract:
CHAPTER 1: This chapter sketches the major outlines of Karl Barth's theology of the powers. My account is structured by the three texts in which the powers are most explicitly discussed. Of particular importance here is the correspondence between God's justifying work and the powers' 'angelic' vocation of serving human history, and the ontologically impossible yet devastatingly real 'demonization' of the powers' own being-in-Christ. Finally, the key claim is developed that all earthly or human-historical power actively corresponds, for Barth, to either the 'heavenly-angelic' attestation of God's grace to humankind in Christ, or to the 'demonic', ontologically privative power of das Nichtige, which opposes God and creature. CHAPTER 2: Chapter two describes what I come to call Yoder's 'structural exousiology'. The primary aim of this chapter is to demonstrate that there is a theological rationale behind Yoder's adoption of the modern language of 'power-structures' to describe the being and work of the powers in human history. I do this by detailing, first, Yoder's (negative) response to Niebuhrian 'political realism', and secondly his (positive) theological appropriation and development of Hendrik Berkhof's exegesis of the Pauline powers. Importantly, this allows us to see how and why Yoder's exousiology is set against the theological division of socio-political life from the sustaining grace and judgment of God. Part 2.B develops this claim further, showing that God constitutes and sustains creaturely power not just through any form of divine sovereignty, but as the rule of Jesus Christ. CHAPTER 3: Chapter three first brings Barth and Yoder into dialogue, initially by examining the eschatological tenor of our thinkers' respective exousiologies. Their eschatologies confirm that creaturely history itself is the context in and for which Christ prophetically confronts the powers, and thus in which all persons are called (and the church is required) to have faith in and bear witness to God's victory. This conviction is seen to be bound to a shared way of thinking the grounds of the powers' historical corruption in terms of idolatry and injustice. Yet I argue that the crucial differences in their understandings of the powers also emerge here, in the way in which the 'grounds' of their idolatry and injustice is conceived. A critical interpretive line is opened here with respect to Barth's intra-personal metaphysic, in light of which Yoder's emphasis on the historical-structural constitution of specific forms of idolatry and injustice offers a necessary supplement and critique. The final section argues that the discursive or rhetorical tension emerging here also informs our thinkers' different ways of naming the church's confessional distinction from the stillrebellious 'world'. CHAPTER 4: The final chapter brings the critical line opened up in chapter three to bear on two specific forms of creaturely power - namely, those operative within political and economic life. Barth's ontological identification of the institution of 'the state' with the divinely ordained task of political service is shown to have problematic implications both for the relative (in)significance of human-historical injustice, and for the 'concentric' political analogy between Christian and civil communities. Yoder is again shown to have a more nuanced exousiological position, because of the christological clarity with which he is wont to distinguish between contingent forms, rather than a priori distinct realms, of political 'witness' to God's rule. The goal of part 4.B is to demonstrate not 'what' Barth and Yoder think about humane economy or its inversion by Mammon, but how they relate the orderingfunction of political power(s) to the economic question of Mammon. The concluding section glimpses at two other thinkers' (Ellul and Stringfellow) way of describing how Mammon operates idolatrously and unjustly in human social life.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.619158  DOI: Not available
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