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Justification: The doctrine of Karl Barth and a Catholic reflection Paperback – 1981
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Text: English, German (translation)
About the Author
Hans Kung is President of the Global Ethic Foundation and Professor Emeritus of Ecumenical Theology at the University of Tubingen in Germany. A prolific and important contemporary theologian, he has written over fifty books including On Being a Christian, Does God Exist?, Infallible? An Inquiry, and The Church. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Kung suggests that we put Barth's concept of justification thoroughly to the test, then we shall have a basis for comparing it with the Catholic concept.What is Sin? A) Pride, the dark, opposite pole to the kenosis of the Son of God, to Taoist emptiness; B) Sloth, stupidity, to be like "the fool" in the Proverbs or in Ecclesiastes; inhumanity, or like in Amos' prophecy of judgment; decadence, as in David's lust; C) Lying.
With the Formula of Concord, we call man truncus et lapis (a log and a stone) in order to describe his inability to help and save himself, not his ontological status: "All the features that make him a man remain" (47). Barth revises the Reformation's positions on the freedom of man: servum arbitrium (not liberum), but in a deterministic sense. But if man could not really choose, he would only be a machine. Barth writes (IV, 2) against Trent's human assentire and cooperari with the gratia praeveniens. The practical consequence of this is that the misery of man is not regarded as dramatic. He rejects Anselm's substitutionary atonement (IV, 1, p486-87). Man is an insolvent debtor; there is no relic or core of goodness which persists in man despite of his sin. Justice of man is alien to him: the only justice man can exhibit is the justice of Jesus Christ. Barth also rejects the Reformed idea of limited atonement (IV, I, 630)
Justification and sanctification are two quite distinct aspects of ONE divine act: sanctification is not a second divine action that takes place simultaneously with justification or precedes it or follows it in time. Sanctification is:
a)participation in the holiness of Jesus Christ
b)the call to follow him
c)an awakening to repentance
d)praise given by works
e)carrying the cross
Justification through sola fides means that no human work as such is or includes man'justification (not even the work of faith as such) and that the believer is the man justified by God. To him justification denotes the divine judgement executed in Christ's death on the cross and revealed on the cross. Barth's second major polemic against Catholic teaching: Trent does not leave intact the sovereign character of justification as a divine work done for man. The Catholic Church does not take seriously the sovereignity of God; it flounders in anthropocentricity. Trent reduces divine justification to a physical process taking place within the human subject (IV,1)
As an attempt at a Catholic response (either/or vs. et et). P. 117, Kung argues that Justification is not the central dogma of Christianity: the mystery of Christ is, and of his revelation (his eternal pre-existence). Everything originates and exists in Jesus Christ (Col 1:16). Thus, no autonomous, theoretical and practical naturalism is possible (see De Lubac's The Supernatural). The sinner, who revolts against his being-in-Christ is still in Christ, though in a different manner than that of the justified man (p. 145), who has found in Christ and through Christ the Holy Spirit, the Father, and the infinite and thus completely self-transcendent fulfillment of his being (p. 146)
For a description of Scotist and Thomist views of the Incarnation, see p. 168 and ff.
The Reformers erred when they conceived of the condition of the sinner as one absolutely without grace (p. 179)
About Free Will, see p. 183, 184, 193, 194, 203, 206, 207.
Is justification merely forensic (declaration of righteousness) or does it make a man just (renewal)? Kung answers: both. God's word accomplishes what it says. The Council of Trent rejected an exclusively extrinsic character (Rm 2:13; 3:20; 8:33). The massive attack of the Reformers called for an equally massive counter-attack and provoked a certain anthropocentricity in the council (see p. 232).
Justification includes a) forgiveness of sins; b) granting the right of the children of God; c) granting the inheritance of eternal life
Cooperari is not in the objective event of salvation (death and resurrection of Jesus), but in the subjective process of salvation. Cooperation not in the sense of collaboration but of involvement: no synergism in which God and man pull the same rope. It is never as if justification came partly from God and partly from man. Justification is not identified with salvation, which follows it. See p. 271, 272, 281-84.
Oh, by the way: and the reason why the previous two idiots who read my review did not find it helpful is........?
A number of languages show up in this book. Titles in the Bibliography tend to be in German, Latin, or French. Discussions of scripture sometimes include the Greek and Hebrew terms which appeared in the earliest versions. Using the list of Greek words in the back of YOUNG'S ANALYTICAL CONCORDANCE TO THE BIBLE, I was able to find that the Greek words associated with Catholic in this book approximate a Greek word in Acts 4:18.
"In fact, Catholic teaching is too Catholic (kappa alpha theta' omicron lambda omicron nu) to be readily spotted in any one place, for it still lays claim to all truth." (p. 111).
If the last letter had been upsilon, which looks much like nu, the word would be the same as AT ALL used in the decree in Jerusalem against the teaching of Peter and John in Acts 4: 18: "So they called them and commanded them not to speak AT ALL nor teach in the name of Jesus."
The author of this book is a priest who is a German theologian, but in 1980 the Vatican declared that he could no longer be considered a Catholic theologian. The history of this kind of conflict, from the time of the Reformation, is the main topic of JUSTIFICATION: THE DOCTRINE OF KARL BARTH AND A CATHOLIC REFLECTION. The English translation includes a letter from Karl Barth dated 31 January, 1957, acknowledging how well this book accords with his own views. Anyone who has a solid foundation in religious thinking ought to be able to appreciate the situation of the author, who is free to embrace as much thought as his mind can hold, only to be warned in 1980 that such thinking does not reflect Catholic theology simply because it appeals to him. What does he know? Part Two of this book is called: An Attempt at a Catholic Response. Considering Holy Scripture as the principle source of Catholic theology in Chapter 20, Christocentricity in Chapter 21, Creation in Chapter 22, forbearance and grace in Chapter 23, the incapacity of every form of self-justification in Chapter 24, Grace as Graciousness in Chapter 27, and embracing Essential change in Chapter 31, it is not difficult to see how the Vatican might question which side the author was on. This translation was published in 1964, long before the Vatican made its declaration in 1980 that its author was not totally committed to church doctrine.
I consider this book highly scholarly. It is prone to lose those who are not familiar with each element of its argument. There are only 17 entries in the list of Abbreviations on page xvii, before the main explanation, "Karl Barth's CHURCH DOGMATICS is cited with volume and page numbers thus: IV/1, 355." That does not explain what LXX means in Chapter 28, The Declaration of the Sinner's Justice. Possibly it covers a ten-year period, 70-79 A.D. or even 61-70 A.D., in which Paul was writing Romans 3.20, obviously the subject of the following comment: "It is significant, as Zorell says, that [delta iota kappa alpha iota omicron upsilon nu] in the LXX generally means forensic justification. On this cf. the Pauline citation in Rom. 3.20 with Ps. 143.2." (p. 209). If that does not ring any bells for you, consider the following comment, in a list of "some hints as to what can be said in favor of the forensic meaning of the word DIKAIOUN, especially in Pauline usage: . . . (3) The forensic character of the LXX citations in Paul (cf. Zorell)." (p. 210).
Zorell does not appear in the index, but the Bibliography for Part C. of this book reveals that F. Zorell published a LEXICON GRAECUM NOVI TESTAMENTI GRAECI in Paris in 1931. There is also an entry in the Bibliography for Part D, "Zorell, F. See under C." (p. 321). Most people seem to have so much justification nowadays that we don't argue about the finer points of this doctrine, but you might read this book so that thereafter you can be amazed by how many people seem to assume this kind of thing willy nilly.
The argument in this book is not overly philosophical. It sticks to theology. There isn't even an entry in the index for Kant, but Hegel is mentioned on four pages. As you might know, "Barth has assimilated, especially through the theology of Schleiermacher, the whole development from Kant through Fichte and Schelling to Hegel. He has also drawn upon later Protestant theology, particularly that of Overbeck, Feuerbach, Strauss, and especially the theological existentialism of his own teacher, Herrmann." (p. 3). I don't know how many people might still claim to know as much.