Barth and Schleiermacher on the Doctrine of Election: A Systematic-Theological Comparison

Barth and Schleiermacher on the Doctrine of Election: A Systematic-Theological Comparison

Barth and Schleiermacher on the Doctrine of Election: A Systematic-Theological Comparison

Barth and Schleiermacher on the Doctrine of Election: A Systematic-Theological Comparison

Excerpt

Throughout the centuries, the doctrine of election has been widely attacked by Christian theologians as well as agnostics or atheists, with Augustine of Hippo and John Calvin receiving the lion's share of the blame. The principal point of contention was the claim that certain human beings are forever lost because God ordered it to be so by means of a double predestination to salvation and damnation. Critics of the doctrine were quick to point out that such a claim is incompatible with the affirmation of God's saving will and of human freedom. Does the fact that God's free gift of grace is not accepted universally mean that God wanted it to be that way? If this is the case, could such an idea be reconciled with God's universal love for His creatures and with the victory over sin and death in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

In response to the dilemma, theologians who wanted to preserve the doctrine as a means to emphasize the freedom of God's grace

Current interpreters of Augustine and Calvin often agree: 'most contemporary
standard monographs regard Augustine's solution of the question of predestination
with a critical attitude that ranges from sober distance to forceful rejection'. Georg
Kraus, Vorherbestimmung. Traditionelle Prädestinationslehre im Licht gegenwärtiger
Theologie
(Freiburg, Basle, Vienna: Herder, 1977), 45. Calvin's teaching on
predestination 'is hardly accepted without criticism by contemporary Calvin
scholars'. Ibid. 187.

A brief overview is given by Emil Brunner, Die christliche Lehre von Gott.
Dogmatik, Band I
(Zurich: Zwingli-Verlag, 1946), 327–8. ET The Christian Doctrine
of God: Dogmatics Vol. I
, trans. Oliver Wyon (London: Lutterworth, 1949), 306.

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