On the Problem of Reconciling Divine “Immutability” with Passibility: An Introduction

“Classical theism” has made a surprising return to a position of ascendancy in English-language theology. This lecture begins by analyzing the four most “basic elements” in the God-concept which can justifiably be called “classical theism.” It discusses the decline in prestige of precisely those elements in the theologies of Karl Barth and the “post-Barthians“ and identifies the leading figures in the movements intent on turning back the clock.  Most importantly, through consideration of the logical relation of the triunity of God to the divine act of election as well as through an initial description of a way in which divine “immutability” (which is surely a biblical category) might be reconciled to divine “passibility”, this lecture describes in advance a modification in the Barthian tradition which will allow what was right in classical theism to come to expression without detriment to the advances that took place in German theology from 1964-1991 (or thereabouts).

Bruce L. McCormack is the Charles Hodge Professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Theology Seminary and Executive Director of its Center for Barth Studies.  He holds the PhD degree from Princeton Theological Seminary (1989) and the Dr. theol. h. c. from the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität (Jena).  He was the Frederick Crossan Visiting Professor at Notre Dame University’s Center for Philosophy of Religion (spring 2018).  He is the author of the award-winning Karl Barth’s Critically-Realistic Dialectical Theology; Its Genesis and Development (1909-1936) and is currently working on a triology of constructive works touching upon Christology proper, the doctrine of the Trinity, and the theology of the cross. In the academic year 2019/20 Bruce L. McCormack is a Senior Fellow at the Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg Greifswald.

Moderation: Professor Dr. Heinrich Assel

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