Sunday, June 11, 2006
Divine Grace and Human Freedom in Barth
'Divine grace and human freedom, as Barth understood them, can be conceptualized only by means of an unresolved antithesis. They cannot be systamatized or captured by a unified thought. Any attempt at resolving the antithesis will only result either in a false determinism (the risk run by Luther and Calvin) or in a false libertarianism (the risk run by Augustine and Aquinas). Barth's alternative to thinking in terms of a system here was to think in terms of the Chalcedonian pattern. Grace and freedom existed in the life of faith "without separation or division," "without confusion or change," and according to an "asymmetrical" ordering principle. "Without separation or division" meant that no human freedom occurred without grace, and no divine grace occurred at the expense of freedom. Grace granted the freedom for God that human beings were completely incapable of by nature, no only before but also continually after awakening to faith. Grace and freedom also existed "without confusion or change." Divine grace always remained completely unconditioned, even as human freedom always remained completely dependent on grace ... Finally, grace and freedom were related according to an asymmetrical ordering principle. Human freedom was a completely subordinate and dependent moment within the event of grace.'
--G. Hunsinger, "What Karl Barth Learned from Martin Luther" in Disruptive Grace: Studies in the Theology of Karl Barth (Eerdmanns, 2000), p. 302.