Kuyper, Barth, and the Religions
A Theological Dialogue on “Common Grace” and its Implications
Karl Barth’s theology is often interpreted in the shadow of his debate with Emil Brunner on “Natural Theology.” For some Kuyperian’s this has led to the rejecting of Barth on the grounds that his theology has nothing to contribute to Kuyper’s doctrine of “Common Grace.” This is an unfortunate misconception that has created much tension between these two traditions. The purpose of this paper is to closely examine the doctrine of “common grace” as it relates to Abraham Kuyper and Karl Barth and to bring these two theologians into dialogue. I will do this by arguing that there are strong continuities between Abraham Kuyper’s doctrine of “Common Grace” and Karl Barth’s work on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I will argue that although Barth never considered the category of “Common Grace,” his work on Mozart gives some indication of this doctrine and that we must make sense of this. My primary argument is not that Barth has been misinterpreted, but that his work on Mozart can serve as a sufficient resource and starting point for a new dialogue between Barthian’s and Kuyperian’s. This paper will serve to show Karl Barth’s theology as being compatible with the Kuyperian doctrine of “Common Grace” and present the theological implications of both traditions for inter-faith dialogue.