John Webster, Barth’s Ethics of Reconciliation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pb, 238pp. + ix. $43.00.
John Webster’s detailed analysis of the ethical realities of Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics, Barth’s Ethics of Reconciliation, has been on the market for some time but at an extremely high price (not surprising for Cambridge). Happily, it has finally been published in paperback and the masses (like me) can afford a copy.
Even if you have little interest in Karl Barth’s theology, this is a fantastic piece of theological exposition, a first rate example of careful theological reasoning.
‘Barth’s image of the human agent is not of a race against temporal contingency, in which we have somehow to shape ourselves by unconditional creativity or establish the meaning of the moral situation by seizing hold of the present and making it our own. Much more is Barth’s image that of the agent’s entry into a given form, of cheerful, unpossessive acknowledgment of determinacy and limitedness, there to find space for freedom and flourishing and for the modest ‘little steps’ which correspond to God’s command’ (76).