Theories of Justice: A Dialogue with Karol Wojtyla and Karl Barth

By Stephanie Mar Brettman

An examination of the theology of justice through the anthropological approaches of two different thinkers, Karl Barth and John Paul II.

ISBN: 9780227175163


What is justice? How do we know justice? How is justice cultivated in society? These are the three questions that guide this critical dialogue with two representatives of the Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions: Karl Barth and Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II. Though the two leaders of thought are shaped within different theological traditions and historical contexts, they both appeal to Christian anthropology as a starting point for justice. Their explorations into the nature of humanity yield robust new theories of justice that remain relevant for our contemporary era. The third interlocutor, Stephanie Mar Brettmann, brings her own voice fully into the dialogue in the third part of the book in order to suggest possible shortcomings in their theories and to build upon their insights, all the while seeking theories of humanity and social justice that result in justice for everybody.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 242

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Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Stephanie Mar Brettmann is the Executive Director of Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST). She taught Theology and Philosophy as a lecturer at the University of the West Indies and Whitworth University and was an Assistant Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. She then decided to put her theories into practice by directing a non-profit organization that aims to prevent the commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour of vulnerable children, women, and men in the United States. She completed her PhD in Theology at the University of St. Andrews in 2004.



Part One: Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II
1. Wojtyla’s Affirmation of Human Dignity in Occupied Poland
     Son of Poland
     Laying Theological Basis for Justice
     Early Priesthood: Promoting Human Dignity in the Midst of Dehumanization
     A New Method of Investigating Ethical Personhood in the Phenomenology of Max Scheler
     Promoting Human Dignity as a Moral Theologian

2. The Dignity of Human Persons in Wojtyla’s Philosophical and Anthropological Theology
     The Shape of Wojtyla’s Work: Thomist? Phenomenological? Or Both?
     Wojtyla’s Epistemology: The Philosophical Basis for Knowing Justice
     Wojtyla’s Account of Justice
     Just Action in Society

3. The Theological Basis for the Social Doctrine of Pope John Paul II
     Knowing Justice: Faith and Reason
     The Theological Basis for Justice: God, Creation, and Moral Law
     The Theological Basis for Justice: Raised to a Dignity Beyond Compare in Jesus Christ
     Theological Basis: Holy Spirit, Giver of Live and Love
     Theological Basis: Conclusion
     Social Doctrine: Human Dignity as the Criterion for Political and Economic Justice
     Conclusion to Part One

Part Two: Karl Barth
4. An Early Passion for Justice
     Barth’s Early Life
     Shifting Foundations: The Red Pastor in Safenwil
     Reformed Theology and the Justice of God for Humanity
     The One Word of God

5. Barth’s Epistemology and Ethical Method
     Barth’s Epistemology: The Theological Basis for Knowing Justice
     Barth’s Ethical Method

6. Barth’s Theological Framework for Justice
     Doctrine of God: God’s Justice as Right Relations and Mercy
     Doctrine of Creation: Social Justice as Co-Humanity
     Doctrine of Reconciliation: Justification, Sanctification, and Witness
     Conclusion to Part Two

Part Three: Critical Dialogue with a Female Interlocutor
7. Sources of Justice
     How is Justice Known?

8. Theories of Justice
     What Is Justice?
     How Is Justice Cultivated in Society?

Select Bibliography


Endorsements and Reviews

A very significant contribution to contemporary theology because it not only asks questions about the nature of justice but also provides a dialogue between two formidable figures and two theological traditions. A must read for all those searching for theological challenges!
Mario I. Aguilar, Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics, University of St. Andrews