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Providence and Personalism

Karl Barth in Conversation with Austin Farrer, John Macmurray and Vincent Brümmer

Darren Kennedy

Karl Barth of fered Church Dogmatics III.3 as a ‘radical correction’ of Reformed Orthodoxy’s doctrine of providence. This book assesses this claim and argues that III.3 represents a ‘personalist’ revision of providence which can only be understood through Barth’s ad hoc use of philosophical resources. Barth’s doctrine of providence remains theology proper, and not philosophy, but cannot be understood without philosophy. Setting Barth in conversation with three philosophical theologians, Vincent Brümmer, John Macmurray and Austin Farrer, this book shows Barth’s distance from pre-modern understandings of providence. The conversations equip the reader to discern the continuities and discontinuities between III.3 and twentieth-century personal, relational philosophy, thereby making sense of many of Barth’s counterintuitive claims. Through contrast with the philosophical theologians, Barth’s Christocentric and Trinitarian articulation gains clarity and significance. Building on these philosophical comparisons, this book assesses Barth’s contributions to debates concerning history as determined by divine action, human freedom under providence and the problem of evil.