Stephen Williams audio (doctrine of Election)

Yesterday, I was very happy to discover that Stephen Williams’ Kantzer Lectures, given last September at TEDS, are posted for streaming or download (scroll down to the bottom of the page). The topic is the doctrine of Election, namely whether it is possible to move beyond the Calvinist-Arminian impasse. I’ve listened to the first two lectures, and they are extremely fascinating. The second lecture deals with Karl Barth. Williams gives an excellent summation of Barth’s doctrine of Election, engaging with contemporary debates (including some criticism of McCormack). In the first half of the lecture, Williams offers a highly positive appraisal of Barth’s approach, but, in the second half of the lecture, he departs from Barth with some incisive criticism of his exegesis. He then offers some cautious psycho-analytical musings on Barth’s fear of natural theology and dislike of tragedy, in contrast with Brunner’s less worried approach to natural theology but (contra Barth) fear of universalism.

Stephen Williams is Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological College, Belfast. He is the author of Revelation and Reconciliation (Cambridge U. P., 1996) and The Shadow of the Antichrist: Nietzsche’s Critique of Christianity (Baker Academic, 2006).



  1. I have listened to the first half of lecture one so far. It was Saturday night and I was finishing up prep for teaching my adult Sunday School class on Acts. Didn’t have time to listen to the whole lecture, but I did get as far as the beginning of the discussin on what is the nature of God that may lie behind the various viewpoints. That concept alone was quite helpful the next morning as we covered Peter’s discussion of Judas’ betrayal in chapter 1. We had a spirited discussion, but it was very helpful to keep going back to what is our view of God’s nature. I certainly to listen to the rest in the near future. Quite good!

  2. Bible speaks uniformly of limited atonement? Christ elects all men for salvation? Gee, I guess that historical debate was just a sideshow until Williams came along. Poor lecture on a bad reading of Barth’s Electing Man.

    • Todd,

      Williams is extremely respectful of the historical debate and exegetical difficulties, and nowhere in the lectures does he present himself as offering a “solution.” Rather, he is “testing” different pathways and pushing the boundaries, conceptual and semantic, in order to perhaps find a better way of thinking and speaking God’s love in Jesus Christ.

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