Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Connection between Creation and Resurrection in Trinitarian Perspective (Part One)

Here's a partial draft a small section of my dissertation I am working on today. Any thoughts?

II, B, 1, iii. The Connection between Creation and Resurrection

In addition to the exclusivity and newness of God's act of raising Jesus, there is a third reason why Barth appropriates the raising of Jesus to the Father: the connection between creation and resurrection. Just as the work of creation is appropriated to God the Father (cf. CD III/1, p. 49), so the work of resurrection is appropriated to God the Father. There are three aspects to this connection, which correspond to Barth's first three points in VF. The first is the analogy between creation and resurrection as exclusively divine acts. The second is God's justification of himself as Creator in the resurrection. The third is the God's creation of a new time between the times that is oriented toward the coming new creation. In all three aspects, Barth appropriates both creation and resurrection to God the Father.

Creation/Resurrection Analogy

Barth makes explicit reference to the analogy between creation and resurrection under his first point: "Like creation, it [the happening on the third day] takes place as a sovereign act of God, and only in this way" (300). The point of similarity between the two is the absolute sovereignty with which God executes them. There is no creaturely co-agency in either the creation of the world or the raising of Jesus. Creaturely participation enters the picture in the history that commences with these acts. But in their inception they are exclusive acts of God. This exclusivity is witnessed to by the appropriation of these acts to God the Father. Creation and resurrection are both analogous to the Father's generation of the Son, and so it is fitting that we speak of creation and resurrection as acts of God the Father, though, following the logic of Barth's reception of the appropriation doctrine, not to the exclusion of God the Son or God the Spirit (cite III/1, p. 51ishff).

The analogy between creation and resurrection has been noted in Barth before. [cf Tanner article] The usual reason for pointing out the analogy is to highlight the unique sense in which both "historical." Creation and resurrection are both historical in the sense of being temporal events. Yet they are not historical in the sense of being the results of creaturely processes. They are free acts of God without creaturely cooperation. So it fitting that both God's work of creation and God's act of raising Jesus are born witness to by means of the genre of saga, which can set forth the temporality of these unique events without treating them as consequences of historical causality (CD III/1, p. 78).

This aspect of the analogy is certainly important. But this formal similarity in terms of genre is grounded in the material similarity in terms of subject. The point of Barth's generic observation is not merely to solve the problem of faith and history, but more basically to bear witness to the irreducible subjectivity of God. In these crucial moments in the history of God with us, God acts alone. Creation and resurrection are thus both acts of God's free grace. That's Barth's point. And my point is that in both cases Barth analyzes the trinitarian grammar of the event in order to make his point: in the first instance, we must speak of these events as acts of God the Father.

Now as with any analogy, the element of dissimilarity is as important as the element of similarity. The language here is explicitly analogical: "like creation" (300, emphasis added). Creation and resurrection are distinct works of God. For all their interconnection, they are not strictly identical. In CD III/1, Barth warns against collapsing creation and covenant, even though they belong to each other (p. 42-48). In the case of the analogy between creation and resurrection, the crucial element of dissimilarity is that ex nihilo applies to the former but not to the latter. Barth never speaks of the raising of Jesus as an act of creation out of nothing. Although it is an exclusive act of God (the Father) with no component of human action, it nevertheless happens to a creature with a prior history of human action. Jesus' prior history does not produce his resurrection--this delimitation is the point of Barth's emphasis on the Father's act of raising. But God the Father's act of raising does happen to the subject of this human history. So the event of resurrection, unlike the event of creation, is an event with a past [QUESTION: doesn't creation have a "past" in election", and if so, in what sense???]. This element of disimillarity is important to note, especially in the face of current attempts to apply the ex nihilo clause to resurrection.[FN]

Any thoughts?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Barth Blog Conference: Hitchcock and Drury

The Barth Blog conference continues over at Derevth today with a post by Nathan Hitchcock on the Resurrection in Romans 1:3-4, and includes a response from yours truly. Check it out!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Karl Barth Blog Conference 2009 begins Sunday at derevth

Karl Barth Blog Conference 2009 begins Sunday at Der Evangelische Theologe. The theme is the knowledge of God in Romans 1. A number of young theologians will be posting papers and responses, including yours truly. Check it out!

Here's the schedule:
  • Day 1: Introduction (Travis McMaken)

  • Day 2: Calvin and Barth on the Exegesis of Romans 1.18-20 (Travis McMaken; response by Jason Ingalls)

  • Day 3: Exegeting Romans 1: A Critical Appraisal (title tentative: Shane Wilkins)

  • Day 4: Barth’s Exegesis of Romans 1 in his 2nd Edition of Romans (title tentative: David Congdon; response by Halden Doerge)

  • Day 5: Resurrection in Barth’s Rejection of Natural Theology: Romans 1.4 in Barth’s 2nd Edition of Romans (title tentative: Nathan Hitchcock, University of Edinburgh; Response by John Drury)

  • Day 6: Barth’s Exegesis in the Shorter Commentary on Romans (title tentative: Shannon Smythe, Princeton Theological Seminary)
Also, check out this older piece of mine concerning this same theme.