Deus providebit

Deus providebit: Calvin, Schleiermacher, and Barth on the Providence of God

Sung-Sup Kim
Copyright Date: 2014
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  • Book Info
    Deus providebit
    Book Description:

    This dissertation stages an intervention in Reformed readings of the doctrine of providence, particularly around Barth’s critical interpretation of the tradition stemming from Calvin and Schleiermacher, and provides a critical and constructive assessment of Barth’s contribution. The author argues that while Barth advances the discussion in key ways, his reading of Calvin in particular is significantly hampered by his running challenge to Schleiermacher. Following an assessment of Barth’s critique of the Reformed position, the author provides an extensive reading of Calvin’s writings, demonstrating that Calvin is far more concerned with the Christological basis and Christian meaning of providence than Barth’s theology recognizes; as well, Schleiermacher’s theological construction problematizes aspects of Barth’s reading. The upshot of this work is that each of these theologians provide critical safeguards and soundings that need to be heard in concert and mutual correction for a robust doctrine of divine providence.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-8764-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. 1 Barth and the Reformed Doctrine of Providence
    (pp. 1-24)

    The doctrine of providence is the church teaching that God has not only created the world but also keeps taking care of it as its Lord. It is an ancient biblical teaching that has stayed close to the center of Christian faith. A brief survey of major theologians such as Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin would show how essential this doctrine has been in the history of Christian theology. We are living in a world, however, where it has become increasingly difficult to presuppose divine providence. It no longer stands at the center of much contemporary theological debate. As two theologians...

  7. 2 Calvin’s Doctrine of Predestination
    (pp. 25-86)

    How does Calvin’s doctrine of providence stand against Barth’s criticism? In order to answer this question, I will first lay out the basic structure of his doctrine. I will then look at the problem of christocentrism and the closely related problems of determinism and evil. This examination will reveal that Calvin expresses strong christological concerns in his doctrine of providence that Barth’s criticism does not properly capture. In fact, there is a way to see proximity between Calvin’s and Barth’s respective doctrines. This makes Barth’s criticism regarding the problems of determinism and evil less sharp.¹ We will see how Calvin...

  8. 3 Schleiermacher and God the Almighty
    (pp. 87-146)

    We now turn our attention to Friedrich D. E. Schleiermacher’s doctrine of providence. Similar to our examination of Calvin, we will start by explaining Schleiermacher’s version of the doctrine in his dogmatics,The Christian Faith. At first glance, Barth’s criticism—that Schleiermacher reduces the providence of God to an impersonal and abstract causality—appears pertinent. When we widen our view, however, it is possible to interpret Schleiermacher’s understanding of providence differently. Nevertheless, there is something fundamental about Barth’s insight; the root of Schleiermacher’s problem goes deeper into his understanding of the divine attributes and even further into God’s triune being....

  9. 4 Barth and God the Father as Lord
    (pp. 147-206)

    In light of Calvin’s and Schleiermacher’s discussions of providence, we are now in a better position to see how Barth formulates his own doctrine in an implicit and sometimes explicit conversation with them. The systematic coordination of subjects and the intensity of arguments in Barth’s doctrine of providence inChurch DogmaticsIII/3 remain unmatched in our time. Due to the general lack of interest in this doctrine, however, this volume ofChurch Dogmaticshas received less attention than the others. Another reason for the lack of interest may be the breadth of subjects—ranging from the problem of divine and...

  10. 5 Conclusion
    (pp. 207-224)

    We now return to the initial question of this study: Is Barth justified in his critique of Calvin’s and Schleiermacher’s doctrines of providence? As we have seen throughout, Schleiermacher is the real danger that Barth wants to thwart. Barth’s discussion of the “tragedy” of the history of the Reformed doctrine of providence showed us that Barth regards Schleiermacher as the fruit of the seed sown: “Reformed theology reaped [in Schleiermacher] what it had sown as early as the 16th century with its failure to think out the basis of its doctrine of providence from a serious Christian standpoint.”¹

    We could...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 225-240)
  12. Index of Subjects and Names
    (pp. 241-248)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 249-249)