The Suffering of God with Implications for Human Suffering in the Trinitarian Theology of Karl Barth

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Theology (Th.M)


Systematic Theology


Twentieth century theologian Karl Barth developed this theology in the shadow of two horrific world wars and at a time when a theological shift occurred in understanding God and suffering. Barth's work has much to offer the twenty-first century pastor and theologian in response to suffering. In this thesis the Trinitarian theology of Karl Barth will be examined concerning the suffering of God at the cross in order to consider how God relates to human suffering in Barth's theology. Chapter one will examine the development of Barth's doctrine of the Trinity and Barth's redeployment of the immanent and economic understanding of the Trinity. The chapter will engage Barth's development of God as the one who loves and establishes fellowship with humanity in his freedom. Barth's Trinitarian development will be compared with a contemporary Trinitarian perspective. Chapter two will explore what transpires within the Godhead during the passion of Christ. It will consider Barth's explanation of the constancy of the Godhead and his emphasis on the unity of will within the Trinity in the passion. Chapter three will explore Barth's Trinitarian understanding of the resurrection of Christ. As the act of self-revelation, Christ's resurrection marks the transition of reconciliation between God and humanity. In the resurrection, Christ's life is made contemporaneous with all time and the hope of the resurrection has implications for the post-Easter Christian community. Chapter four will explore Barth's theological anthropology with particular emphasis on his understanding of the human experience of death and suffering. The thesis will conclude with questions for further inquiry.


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