Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Resurrection as Sanctification

Last time we addressed the trinitarian grammar of Christ's resurrection under the rubric God's verdict. But this is not the only vantage point from which we may and must consider the trinitarian grammar of Christ's resurrection. For the Father's justification of the Son and us in him by the power the Spirit is only one side of the coin. If we flip the coin over, we also see Christ's resurrection as the revelation of his exaltation, which had been hidden in his life of obedience unto death on a cross. The risen Christ reveals himself as the exalted human being, the one true covenant partner of God. This living Son gives to us direction: in the power of the Spirit he re-orients us and sets us on a new trajectory. The direction of the Son discloses our slothfulness and santfies us for a life of love. So Christ's resurrection is not only the verdict of the Father, but also the direction of the Son. In raising his Son Jesus from the dead, God not only pronounced a verdict for us but also gives a direction to us. [Note: here we continue to follow the train of Barth's thought, but now drawing on CD IV/2]

Just as with God's verdict, God's direction is in the first instance self-referential. This can be seen initially in the dual meaning of the genitive phrase "the direction of the Son." Genitives can either be subjective or objective. A subjective genitive renders the prepositional noun the subject of the main phrase, whereas an objective genitive renders the prepositional noun the object of the main noun. So, in this case, "the direction of the Son" as a subjective genitive means the direction which the Son gives, while the "direction of the Son" as an objective genitive means the direction given to the Son himself. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, the Son's direction is given both to himself as the exalted human being and to us as those set apart to live lives that correspond to the exaltation achieved in him. The Son steps forward from among the dead and moves along the path from himself to us. He lives with this orientation and along this trajectory. And so the New Testament says not only that the Father has raised the Son but also that the Son rises, and even at times that he raises himself (cf. John 12). This is the self-referential activity of the Son in the event of the resurrection of Christ.

As is already evident, such self-referential language requires a trinitarian grammar. Just as with the resurrection as justifying verdict, so also the resurrection as sanctifying direction we must speak not only of "God" and "Christ" but also of "Father" and "Son." And the triune grammar of direction is both parrallel to and dialectically juxtaposed with the triune grammar of verdict. Christ's resurrection as divine verdict speaks in terms of humiliation: the Father in his omnipotent grace raised the humiliated Son of God. Christ's resurrection as divine direction speaks in terms of exaltation: the Son in his majesty rises as the exalted Son of Man. This two-fold trinitarian grammar of resurrection is grounded in the very mystery of God's life as triune: just as the "fatherly fellow-suffering of God is the mystery, the basis, of the humiliation of his Son," so also the "majesty of the Son of God is the mystery, the basis, of the exaltation of the Son of Man" (CD IV/2, pp. 357-8).

Now we cannot speak of the self-referential activity of God in abstraction from the action of God toward us, since the point of this self-referential activity is the revelation of our reconciliation and redemption. But we cannot make this turn without reference to a third piece of the divine puzzle: the Holy Spirit. We cannot understand Christ's resurrection as the direction of the Son without reference to the work of the Holy Spirit. But this post is already too long. So we will address this piece of the puzzle next week. For now, let us consider the risen Christ as the one who not only was raised for us and our justification but also rises toward us and our sanctification.

Any thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Hey Drulogion, thanks for continuing your line of thought with this material from IV.2. I'm TOTALLY going to post on this...but I've got two papers and an exam that simply must take precedence. (Ah, if only the blogosphere, and not the world, was all that is the case!)

I'm looking forward to following up on this soon...thanks again for the post!

Anonymous said...

I'm digging your use of the term "trinitarian grammar." To clarify, however, are you referring to the double genitive (subjective & objective) in describing the self-referentiality of the resurrection? Or the threefold pattern of reconciliation (illustrated by justification, sanctification, and vocation)? I can see both as operative here.