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Title: The hiddenness of God and the visibility of the church : Karl Barth's early thought on the sovereignty of God's word, human freedom, and ecclesiastical authority
Author: Merrick, James R. A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2739 808X
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2013
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Interpretations of Barth’s earliest theology have made much of its eschatological orientation. Typically, such readings understand human history to be undermined by God’s presence. Furthermore, these interpretations usually hold that it was not until Barth’s ‘mature’ phase -­‐ the years of his Church Dogmatics -­‐ that balance was achieved. This thesis reexamines Barth’s early thought in order to demonstrate that such cannot be characterised as an imbalanced opposition of God’s presence to human history. Barth’s intention was not to nullify or negate the historical, but to understand it as limited and relative. Accordingly, the opening chapter reads Barth’s great critique of religion in his earliest works as aimed particularly at a form of religion which saw the provisionality of history as escapable. In the face of such rationalism, Barth insisted on the limitations of religion. These limitations, however, do not mean religion is impaired. The second chapter explores how religion can function positively in relation to God’s historical presence by paying attention to Barth’s account of the relative authority of preaching, tradition, and dogma. Against modern rationalism, Barth claimed these historical forms are authoritative precisely because their historical peculiarity calls attention to the historical limitations of human creatures. The Iinal chapter considers the way Barth’s early conIiguration of time’s relationship to eternity shaped his understanding of the method and signiIicance of historical theology, arguing that the forgiveness of God allows every historical period -­‐ not just the modern -­‐ to be signiIicant. The church proclaims its faith in forgiveness in part by offering generous accounts of human history.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available