This book offers a fresh and up-to-date account of the ethical thought of one of the twentieth century's greatest theologians: Karl Barth. The author seeks to recover Barth's ethics from some widespread misunderstandings, and also presents a picture of them as a whole. Drawing on recently published sources, Dr Biggar construes the ethics of the Church Dogmatics as it might have been had Barth lived to complete it - not only separately in each of its three constituent dimensions but also in its dynamic, coinherent integrity.
However, The Hastening that Waits is more than apology and description. For it recommends to contemporary Christian ethics the theological rigour with which Barth expounds the good life in terms of the living presence of God-in-Christ to his creatures; his conception of right human action as that which is able to hasten in the service of humanity precisely by waiting prayerfully upon God; and his discriminate openness to moral wisdom outside of the Christian church.
Among the particular topics treated are: the concepts of human freedom and of created moral order; moral norms and their relation to individual vocation; the relative ethical roles of the Bible, the Church, philosophy, and empirical science; moral character and its formation; and the problem of war.
`a clear and judicious treatment of the great Swiss theologian's ethical thought, rescuing it from some misunderstandings, and displaying its coherence in the context of prayerfully waiting upon God while hastening towards God's coming kingdom with energy, hope and obedience ... this book is one which, though tightly argued, gives a lively and reasoned insight into Barth's rigorous ethical thinking, and as it does so illuminates for contemporary moral
theology such important themes as freedom, vocation, and character'
`few major studies have been attempted of his [Barth's] ethics ... Now the Oxford Studies in Theological Ethics has begun to remedy that lack in a very stylish work ... Biggar traces with subtle care the developments between 1929 and 1959, and is astutely critical at the most appropriate points ... Biggar explores all these issues shrewdly, pointing to the gaps in Barth's arguments and the occasional tendency to frankly arbitrary judgments on the part of
the great doctor. All of this analysis is deftly done, and provides a standard study of the complexity of Barth and, to a certain extent, the sheer excitement he often conveyed in his writing ... The main
ideas are studied meticulously and analysed with great precision'
`a clear and judicious treatement of the great Swiss theologian's ethical thought ... this book is one which, though tightly argued, gives a lively and reasoned insight into Barth's rigorous ethical thinking, and as it does so illuminates for contemporary moral theology such important themes as freedom, vocation and character
`In this book Nigel Biggar sets out to remove the ignorance and misunderstanding which have attended Barth's ethical thinking in the English speaking world...In this aim he succeeds admirably. He appears as an advocate for Barth, while being scrupulously fair to his critics. The result is a work which not only fulfils its set purpose, but also makes a valuable contribution of its own to theological ethics...We must hope for more translations of similar
quality and erudition'
The Oriel Record
`a model at once of careful exposition and of critical reflection'
The Expository Times
'The importance of this book lies in Biggar's spirited defence of Barth's theological reasoning.'
Graham Ward, Exeter College, Oxford, Theology, Mar/Apr. 1994
'Biggar's careful reading of Barth's lectures on ethics from the late 1920s and early 60s, along with the massive Church Dogmatics, is, I think, plausible, ... his study is an excellent introduction to the complexities of Barth's ethics.'
Times Literary Supplement
'...excellent study, this must be the best introduction to Barth's ethical thought available in English...confidently recommended to advanced students as a fine guide to Barth's understanding of God's call to relationship with him, to membership of the Church, and to "dissident engagement with the world".'
Nicholas Sagovsky, Theological Book Review, Vol 6, No 2, February 1994
'careful and comprehensive account of Barth's ethics'
International Review of Mission, Vol. LXXXIII No. 330
'this book on Barth's ethics claims our attention as more than just an exercise in historical theology ... a doctoral thesis, but refined and shortened so as to be accessible to a wider readship ... The author writes sympathetically but also critically, and makes the effort to draw out the wider significance and application of Barth's work at the end of each chapter.'
Regent's Review, Autumn 1994
`this book on Barth's ethics claims our attention as more than just an exercise in historical theology ... The work is the result a doctoral thesis, but refined and shortened so as to be accessible to a wider readership. The author writes sympathetically but also critically, and makes the effort to draw out the wider significance and application of Barth's work at the end of each chapter.'
Regent's Reviews 5, Autumn 1994
`Nobody is better equipped than Nigel Biggar, a student of Barth's writings for over a decade, to guide the reader through the gradual and complex development of his ethics. This impressive book is the first in a series of Oxford Studies in Theological Ethics. It is priced at a level likely to ensure that its main purchaser will be libraries and main readers fellow-ethicists, but any who have more than a passing interest in Karl Barth are well advised to
Richard Higginson, Ridley Hall, Cambridge, Anvil, Vol. ll, No. 3, 1994
`Clearly written and well structured book ... This book will reward anyone who engages seriously with Barth's ethics, provoking many fresh insights and the desire to argue on points of detail.'
Scottish Journal of Theology