Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Barth on Election and Ephesians 1

I have been reading through CD II and was captivated by a small section in which Barth discusses election and his understanding of the "in him" of Ephesians 1:4. This is one example of Barth's emphasis on participation. Please read Adam Neder's exceptional little book Participation in Christ: An Entry into Karl Barth's Church Dogmaitcs, for a fuller account of this theme in Barth's theology.

"From the very beginning (from eternity itself), there are no other elect together with or apart from Him, but, as Eph. 1:4 tells us, only 'in' Him. 'In Him' does not simply mean with Him, together with Him, in His company. Nor does it mean only through Him, by means of that which He as elected [human] can be and do for them. 'In Him' means in His person, in His will, in His own divine choice, in the basic decision of God which He fulfills over against every [human]. What singles Him out from the rest of the elect, and yet also, and for the first time, unites Him with them, is the fact that as elected [human] He is also the electing God, electing them in His own humanity. In that He (as God) wills Himself (as [human]), He also wills them. And so they are elect 'in Him,' in and with His own election."[1]

[1]Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics II.2: The Doctrine of God, Study Edition. Edited by G.W. Bromiley and T.F. Torrance. Translated by G.W. Bromiley (London: T&T Clark, 2009), 124


  1. Thanks for the quote, that's a good one!

  2. Hey Bobby, this is definitely one of my favorite KB quotes. Thanks for stoppin by.

  3. Andrew,

    I see that you're at Fuller. I once was accepted to the PhD track there --- I was going to have to do a two semester MA to build on my other MA prior to entrance into the PhD --- and I am, at the moment, looking into "programs" again. I have a question about you and Fuller; who would supervise your work on Barth at Fuller? Are there any "Barth scholars" at Fuller, currently? I want to do research on Barth and Torrance in re. to their respective doctrine's of vicariousness in Christ for us.

    I'm just wondering, because I wouldn't mind heading back to Fuller (I grew up in the Long Beach area and have my fam there, currently in the Pac NW). I thought I would ask you since you're right there.

    Sorry for coopting this thread with this question. Btw, I think the kind of thinking representative by Barth in the quote is actually life-altering --- at least it has been for me!

  4. Hey Bobby, in regards to Fuller here are your options. You could work with Howard Loewen who I am currently doing a directed reading with on Barth's doctrine of election. He studied with Geoffrey Bromiley and T.F. Torrance, and I believe James Torrance was the second reader on His dissertation. I also have a couple of friends currently studying under him--great guy, and he knows Barth and Torrance quite well.

    You could study with Velli-Matti Kärkkäinen who knows Pannenberg well, but he's not too friendly with Barth or Torrance so I don't think it would be a very good fit.
    Fuller is hiring a new professor so one option would be to wait and see who they hire--it could potentially be someone who has an interest in Barth.

    Another suggestion would be to check out Claremont. Ingolf Dalferth is there and he is great. He studied with Eberhard Jüngel at Tübingen and along with Jüngel edited Barth's "Fides Quaerens Intellectum." He just came to the U.S. a couple of years ago, but he is a theological heavy weight in Europe. He also holds a dual post at the University of Zürich.

    A downside to both Fuller and Claremont is that there is not much funding, so that is something you would have to consider. Especially seeing that the L.A. area is not a cheap place to live.

    I hope this helps

  5. Andrew,

    Thank you, that does help. Howard Loewen sounds good! I knew about Karkkainen :-(, and Dalferth also sounds good. Thank you for the run down.

    That's why we didn't come to Fuller last time --- I would've had my PhD by now, if not for that (the Lord had something to do with it too, of course ;-). The money (it's always the money). It was fine to live in California growing up, and living off of my parents; not so much with my own family, and then add on top of that funding issues for school.

    If you don't mind me asking, how are you doing it, financially? The way I was going to do it was student loans (and I actually qualified for plentiful amounts) --- but I already have too much of that from my undergrad (my wife's undergrad) and my MA degree.

    Thanks, Andrew!

  6. Bobby,
    Well, right now I am just finishing up my M.A. and looking towards doing PhD work in a year or so, but not at Fuller. For funding I have mainly loans, but I also received a scholarship. My grades weren't that great coming out of undergrad so I was offered no financial aid my first year. But, I proved my self quite well the next year and was awarded a scholarship that covers almost half of my tuition. Still it's a lot of loans. That's the way most people do it at Fuller. I think there are two or three fellowships floating around, but to my knowledge they are filled up. And unless you have straight A's and a rockin GRE score scholarships are tough to come by. Because of the lack of scholarships another down side is that Fuller has a high GPA requirement for keeping scholarships. So, even if you get a full ride you must keep, I believe, a 3.8 or higher--it used to be a 4.0. I think its kind of ridiculous. If you get into a PhD program you probably deserve to be there and don't need someone baby sitting your grades, especially if you are presenting and publishing.

    There are some great things about Fuller and I have great relationships with students, Howard Loewen, and Richard Mouw, but finances is something you will definitely have to consider. Also, consider if you want to teach in the future. Some schools, mainly the universities, won't like a degree from an evangelical school. Loewen is great, and Dalferth at Claremont is a major theological figure so just some things to consider.


  7. Andrew,

    Thanks for the heads-up. Fuller doesn't sound ideal for the PhD (just like any evangelical school, too expensive, typically no funding, and teaching opportunities become limited [as you say]).

    Where are you looking for PhD programs, then? PTS?

    Btw, great essay over at the "Conference."

  8. Thanks Bobby, glad you liked my essay. Yes, I am looking at PTS and a couple of other places. Right now I am thinking about PTS, UVA, Vandy, Emory, Yale, and Harvard. I am also considering the University of Zürich. Ingolf Dalferth, who I mentioned before, holds his main post there. I have been told that the theological community there is great and the Barth archives would be very close by. It would also be great to really get my German down.

  9. Sounds, good, Andrew!

    I am still considering PTS, Notre Dame, and Aberdeen myself (of course I would have to get accepted first). I've been in some discussion with PTS, and although I have an MA, it looks like they would still require that I get an their MDiv prior to entering their PhD (which really makes the road longer than I want it or think it actually needs to be, at this point). I expect to have to do another one yr MA, but not a full on MDiv. Aberdeen (through Highland Theological College) would allow me to enter with my current MA (but then again, no funding, argh . . . we'll see).

    Keep up the studies, friend; you're a sharp cookie, and your work can only serve to edify the body of Christ!

  10. Bobby, if you are going to consider Aberdeen I would recommend not doing it through Highland. I am pretty sure that you have to have a Highland adviser and wouldn't be able to have an Aberdeen one. If you're going to do Aberdeen I would do it all the way and study with Webster. I think you would find a better theological community and better advisers at Aberdeen. You could also have a chance at getting a Scottish Bursary, which I believe covers tuition plus a stipend.

  11. Andrew,

    Thanks. I do have a couple of "e-friends" at Aberdeen right now (with Webster) --- and finances are an issue (one of them is taking personal loans to be there). The thing about Highland is that I could do it distance, which given my life circumstances would be more ideal (I'm married with two little kiddies) --- Andrew McGowan is a potential reader there, he has a good pedigree (so to speak) and is interested in the kind of Scottish Theology that captivates me so much. But, you know, if I'm going to get a PhD I want to do it right; and I want to make sure to get one that will in fact open teaching doors for me and not close them.

    If I was independently wealthy that would make this a lot easier, eh. ;-)

    Thanks, Andrew.

  12. Hey Bobby, I see where you are coming from. But, even if finances are an issue, which they are for most people, I would maybe check out the University of Leeds, Kings's College, and Exeter. You could study with Alistair McFadyen at Leeds, Ben Quash at King's, and Tim Gorringe or Michael Highton at Exeter. You could do all of these programs from a distance and you would receive excellent recommendations. I too wish I was independently wealthy. I hope this helps


  13. Thanks, Andrew, I'll definitely check these other schools out; thanks for the heads up. I'll be curious to see where you end up in the days to come. Until then enjoy your studies at Fuller!