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Claiming Barth for Ethics: The Last Two Decades

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Since 1990, there has been something of a reversal in scholarly opinion regarding Karl Barth's forays into Christian ethics. Against the previously held conclusion that Barth's account of divine action overwhelms the possibility of human agency and therefore any meaningful basis for ethics, more recent scholarship has tried to show that Barth did in fact take seriously the human being as moral agent. This article surveys the key publications from the past twenty years, in places bringing them into critical dialogue with one another, before assessing what can be learned about Barth's contribution to Christian ethics. There is discussion of Barth's relationship to casuistry and natural law, as well as the extent to which modern scholarship must rework Barth's theological ethics in order for it to publicly viable in the future.


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