"An Investigation of the Role of Divine Providence in the Life of a Christian: Theology of Karl Barth"

Topics: Jesus, God, Trinity Pages: 9 (3157 words) Published: April 6, 2014

Table of Contents
The Character of God3
The Sovereignty of God5
The Revelation of God7

2 Chronicles 16 in the Bible states that “the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth.”1 Regardless of personal conviction, awareness, understanding, theological leanings, or beliefs, God sees. He sees everything. In Genesis 16, Hagar declares to God “You are the God who sees me.” Nothing has ever escaped his sight or awareness. He is never overwhelmed, anxious, or surprised. Solomon states in Proverbs 15:3, “the eyes of the Lord are in every place.” In many ways, this understanding is both intimidating and comforting. As George Wilson declares in his disarray in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby, “God sees everything.”2 In His strength and glory, God works. In his book, Church Dogmatics, Karl Barth writes that “The Gloria of God consists in the fact that He is so powerful in relation to the creature; that He asserts Himself so thoroughly.”3 God sees and God works in everything – this is the great news of the doctrine of providence for the believer. Throughout the Bible, in stories of Joseph’s triumph in Egypt, Job’s suffering, and Jesus’ declaration that “it is finished” in John 19, God’s providence is on display. While the doctrine of providence has gratuitous hope for followers of Jesus Christ, the complexity, depth, and breadth of the works of God can be confusing and misunderstood; this paper will discuss Karl Barth’s writing, research, and discussions on the doctrine of providence, relative to the person and work of Jesus, and will help display God’s character, God’s Sovereignty, and God’s Revelation by helping explain that “the mysteries of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ consists in the fact that the eternal Word of God chose, sanctified and assumed nature and existence into oneness with Himself, in order thus, as very God and very man, to become the Word of reconciliation spoken by God to man.”4

The Character of God

The doctrine of the providence of God makes it difficult to fully understand God’s character. Certainly, providence declares that God is omnipotent with his ability to bend and shape all things to to His desire. However, because of the understanding that God is all powerful and works in all things based on this doctrine, it seems, for many, to imply that God chooses at times to ignore, at best, or, at worst, instigate evil. In The Westminster Handbook to Evangelical Theology, Roger Olson writes “Reformed thinkers tend to see evil as an instrument of God in providence.”5 This understanding requires people to ask and discern the following two questions:1) Is God Good? 2) Does He have a plan? Charles Wood describes the doctrine of providences as “whatever exists, exists because God wills to sustain it; whatever happens, happens ultimately because God directs it. Whatever befalls us…is to be seen as ‘provided’ by God.”6 If everything is provided by God, does that mean God is the giver of suffering and evil? In order to understand the existence of evil relative to God’s providence, it is important to, first, understand where and why evil exists. Then, it is necessary to investigate God’s redemptive plan. For centuries, people have questioned the goodness of God. They have asked questions like why do bad things happen to good people, why does evil exist, and why did God create the devil? More specifically, seekers and theologians alike have wondered why God created the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden. Afterall, God had to know that Adam and Eve would disobey. Did Adam and Eve cause the evil? Did God? Who is responsible? D.A. Carson in Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility regarding the tension of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility writes that "The sovereignty-responsibility tension is not a problem to be solved; rather, it is a framework to be...

Bibliography: Barth, Karl. How I Changed My Mind. Richmond: John Knox Press, 1966.
Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics, ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley and Thomas E. Torrance Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1960
Busch, Eberhart
Carson, D. A., Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1981
Enns, Paul, The Moody Handbook of Theology
Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth: A Guide to Understanding the Bible. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993
Fitzgerald, F
Green, Clifford J. Karl Barth: Theologian of Freedom. Minneapolis, Mn: Fortress Press, 1991
Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994
Hodge, Charles, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1 Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman 's Publishing Company, 1986
Macken, John, The Autonomy Them in the Church Dogmatics: Karl Barth and His Critics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990
Olson, Roger E. The Westminster Handbook to Evangelical Theology. Westminster John Knox Press, 2004
Sproul, R.C
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