The dual relationship between God's creative purposes and the nature of sin and evil in Karl Barth's account of das Nichtige : in dialogue with the monist account of Alvin Plantinga
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John Hick argues for a two-fold typology of Christian theodicies, namely, those which offer monist accounts of good and evil and those which offer dualist accounts. Neither approach, he goes on to argue, is compatible with the basic claims of Christian thought. On the one hand, monism risks denying the distinction between good and evil by incorporating evil into the unitary intentionality of the one sovereign God. Dualist accounts, on the other, risk undermining the sovereignty of God by affirming the existence of evil as that which conflicts with God’s good (and singular) will. Hick’s typology presents us, therefore, with the option of either affirming the full sovereignty of God and denying the truly malevolent nature of evil, or affirming God’s opposition to evil but then undermining the full sovereignty of God. Two immensely influential Christian thinkers, namely, Karl Barth and Alvin Plantinga, are considered as a means of testing this claim. Barth, who is the primary focus, tends toward a dualistic understanding of good and evil whereas Plantinga toward a more monistic understanding. Hick’s typology, however, fails to serve their differing understandings of good and evil adequately. An alternative analysis of this distinction is proposed drawing on their distinctive understandings of the relationship between sin and evil and God’s creative purposes. This leads to an analysis of the conditions under which it is possible to affirm the truly malevolent nature of evil and God’s full sovereignty. It is contended that Barth’s approach offers a consistent means of affirming God’s radical opposition to evil while also affirming his full sovereignty.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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