Command and History in the Ethics of Karl Barth

Journal of Religious Ethics 9 (2):298 - 320 (1981)

Authors
William Jospeh Werpehowski
Georgetown University
Abstract
Barth's ethics of divine command are pften criticized for failing to account for various crucial features of human moral agency. Gustafson's charge that Barth is an "intuitionist" suggests that no determinate reasons can be offered by an agent for actions performed out of obedience to the command of God. Hauer- was claims that Barth cannot make a place in his ethics for the ideas of "charac- ter" and "growth." Implicit in these criticisms is the proposal that the Barthian self is unable to express itself as shaped through a history, which would provide an explanation of the changes that take place in and through the actions of a continuous subject. Following an analysis of the relevant features of Barth's methods of theological ethics, the author argues that Barth meets these criti- cisms through his description of the way in which agents have their being in a "history of relationship with God.".
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