The humanity of God: Karl Barth and contemporary radical theology

McConnell, Ronald Douglas (1969) The humanity of God: Karl Barth and contemporary radical theology. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The research of the thesis is directed toward the Christology of Karl Barth as being that area of his thought which must nearly relates to the contemporary concerns of theology. It is focused on what Barth considers a new direction for his theology. Barth's christological position can be regarded as a recent one, but, because Christology is central to his theology, it touches everything he has written. It is given a complete discussion in the Church Dogmatics. The thesis evaluates this discussion in the light of contemporary theology. The terminology used by Barth for his recent interest is die mensch-lichkeit Gottes. "the humanity of God," and indicates that his emphasis in the Incarnation is upon the God-ward side. Even so, because it concerns itself with the relating of God to man, it has an Important affinity with contemporary theological interest in the doctrines of man and society and the pointing towards a now theology of the Holy Spirit. The position taken by the thesis is that Barth's contribution in the area of Christology provides the natural foundation and heritage upon which the new theological quest will be based. It is possible to say that the present trends in theology would not be possible without the work of Karl Barth. Chapter one is a summary of Barth's criticism of the theology of the nineteenth century. It includes an examination of his theological anthropology in contrast to the image of the absolute am in nineteenth-century theology; his postulation of the Word of God as the source of authority as opposed to religious immanentism; his tension with the historical emphasis in nineteenth-century theology and the consequent problem for Barth of a proper relationship between faith and history; and the question of theology's legitimate concern with philosophy and man's prevailing world-view. Chapter two is a critical analysis of Barth's early theological emphasis upon the transcendence and otherness of God. It seeks to understand while criticising his rejection of natural theology and man's ability to known God apart from the revealed Word. It examines Barth's hermeneutical principal as it is reflected in his thorough and consistent regard for the sovereignty of God. The position of Hans Urs von Balthaser is examined with regard to his doctrine of man and natural theology as a critical contrast to Barth's limitation of man's role in the revelatory process. Chapter three examines the heart of Barth's Christology as it inquires critically into his doctrine of Reconciliation and the comprehensive scope given by Barth to Christology and the Incarnation. It is this emphasis which marks Barth's greatest contribution to theology and takes the sting out of an otherwise too narrow view of revelation. The total sweep of Barth's Christology gives it a triumphant note but leaves him with the problems of sin and evil and an unsatisfactory answer to the question of apokatastasis and universal salvation. Chapter four inquires into the problem of the humanity of Jesus. Barth's concept of the royal roan is examined as an interpretation which identifies man's humanity with that of Jesus but which introduces a new dimension to human nature as seen in the God-man. Many of the key problems of Barth's theology come to light in this critical area of his interpretation, Barth's concept of the humanity of Jesus as viewed through the royal man is evaluated in contrast to that of contemporary radical theology. Chapter five summarizes the key points of emphasis in Barth's theology as they relate to contemporary radical theology, including culture, the churchy and the Holy Spirit, The thesis endeavors to appreciate the strength of radical theology as a corrective to Barthian weaknesses and at the same time recognize a fundamental theological superiority in Barth. Attention is given to the unfinished theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer as providing a possible synthesis between Barth and contemporary radical theology. The research of the thesis indicates the probable direction for contemporary theology in arriving at the possibility and the need for a new theology of the Holy Spirit.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Ian Henderson
Keywords: Theology, Religion
Date of Award: 1969
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1969-71962
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 13:38
Last Modified: 17 May 2019 13:38
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/71962

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