first post that the fact that McKenny is not an avowed Barthian is refreshing - it also adds a particular depth to this study of the central theme of Barth's moral theology that I suspect would not be so noticeable elsewhere. This depth comes from the sense of wrestling with Barth that McKenny's constant and penetrating questioning of the 'old man of Basel' suggests, and the even handedness with which McKenny deals with Barth's critics. One presumes McKenny is an evangelical of sorts (he took his BA at Wheaton, Illinois, USA), but the engagement with Barth's theological concerns and knowledge of the Barth-corpus here far outranks anything offered in recent evaneglical publications on Barth (most especially, e.g., Gibson and Strange (eds) Engaging with Barth (2008)). McKenny is currently engaged in research on the problem of the relation of grace to morality in Kant and beyond, so presumably this publication comes out of his research in that field. I reiterate - go and read this book!
If nothing else, the way McKenny articulates the issue is helpful for systematic theologians and ethicisits alike. How does divine grace impact and form our human agency? I mean by that much more than merely our sense of the ethical/moral - i.e. that which is good. Put negatively, Barth and McKenny are asking why when we talk about righteousness and justification we (Protestants in this case) happily talk about God's grace to us, but when we talk about sanctification/ethics we do not. Then we talk about our part, what we should do, and not what God has done for us. The question opens up a much more fundamental issue about the relationship between systematic theology and ethics which is about more than then way these disciplines relate. Instead it is a fundamental questioning of them as they now stand - their methods, their content, and their points of reference. It is not enough to say theologians must consider the practicalities of what they write, nor that the ethicists must ground their statements with some theological reflection. What McKenny articulates in Barth is a fundamental shift in the present disciplines of theology and ethics. I found this quite compelling, and also mindblowing.