But this whole line of thinking might be taken to mean that the resurrection is some sort of divine self-enclosed event that has nothing to do with us. Nothing could be further from the truth! The point is that divine self-referential activity is good for us. God is good for us by first enacting himself in history. In so doing God actualizes his goodness to us and so assures us. In raising his son from the dead, God the Father confirms himself as the creator and in so doing secures us as his creatures. In being raised from the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ receives grace from God the Father on our behalf, and so comes to us as one of us. The Spirit who testifies with our spirit that we are children of God does not assure by merely speaking as one more voice demanding blind trust, but by pointing us to the living risen Jesus Christ in whom God has acted for us.
All this serves as an introduction to a quote I'd like to place before you for your consideration. It comes from one of Karl Barth's discussions of the resurrection entitled "The Verdict of the Father" (Chuch Dogmatics IV/1, §69.3). In this summative statement, Barth displays the inner connection of God's self-referential and other-referential activity as they find their unity, distiction and order in Jesus Christ. The argument is put in terms of justification (befitting the forensic context of CD IV/1): God's justification of himself, of Jesus Christ, and of us in him. Here you go:
To sum up, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the great verdict of God, the fulfillment and proclamation of God's decision concerning the event of the cross... In this [acceptance of the act of the Son of God] the resurrection is the justification of God himself, of God the Father, creator of heaven and earth, who has willed and planned and ordered this event. It is the justification of Jesus Christ, his son, who willed to suffer this event, and suffered it to the very last. And in his person it is the justification of all sinful humans, whose death was decided in this event, for whose life there is therefore no more place. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ his life and with it their life has in fact become an event beyond death: "Because I live, you shall live also" (Jn. 14:19). (CD IV/1, p. 309, rev.)Any thoughts?
- To what extent are we permitted and encouraged to speak of God's self-referential activity? On what basis can we do so? What are the dangers?
- Does hearing of God's self-referential activity give you a greater sense of assurance? Why or why not?
- What other pay-offs might there be in rooted God's activity on behalf of us in God's self-referential activity?