Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What's At Stake in Christ's Resurrection? (revisited)

I've asked before on this blog, "What at stake in Christ's resurrection?" Here's another swing at it, but this time simply by quoting a series of questions Barth asks, and then quoting in brief the beginning of his answer. He pretty much puts the stakes this way: How could we come to know and so follow Jesus as Lord if he were not living one who reveals himself in the power of the Holy Spirit? But putting it so briefly doesn't do justice to how high the stake really are. So here goes:
"And it is only right that we should think of this first when we ask why the existence of Jesus Christ is so inaccessible to us. Is this the fulfilment of the covenant? Is this the Reconciler and Mediator between God and us men, the Messiah of Israel, the Saviour of the world? Is this His revelation? What place is there in this lowliness for the true Son of God, and the true Son of Man? Was He not there only for a moment, and then no longer there; shown to us, but now--with all the appearance of finality--withdrawn; a short and beautiful dream on which we can only look back with deep disillusionment in our long and bitter waking moments? And what became, and becomes, of us if it is true that that exalted One was humiliated and shamed and put to death in our place, that the Son of God and Man asked finally in our name why God had forsaken Him? Is it that the incarnation of the Word, and therefore the existence of the Son of God as one of us, only makes clear what apart from Him we cannot do more than suspect--that we are all rejected and lost? Does it merely seal the impossibility of the human situation? And if it does mean anything more, if in His lowliness He is still the exalted One, the Lord and Deliverer, if His name still encloses the salvation of the world and our salvation, how can this be true for us when His death on the cross was His final work and Word? How can we know Him as the true Son of God and Man? How can we know His being for us in this concealment ? How can we cleave to Him or even believe that He is this, when this was His
end, and the door was slammed behind Him and bolted from within?

"The Christian community and the individual Christian believe that He was and is the Son of God and as such for us, and cling to this fact. If we assume that it is given to us to be Christians, we can and must say that we know Him even in this concealment He is our Lord and Hero, the Shepherd of the whole world and our Deliverer, even in this lowliness He has acted as the true Son of God even in His suffering of death on the cross And we are made alive and justified and sanctified and exalted to the status of the children of God and made heirs of eternal life in His execution. For it was in His humiliation that there took place the fulfilment of the covenant, the reconciliation of the world with God. It is in Him that we have our peace, and from Him our confidence and hope for ourselves and all men. Let us assume that we can believe this in our hearts and confess it with our lips. Where the Holy Spirit intervenes and is at work between Him and us as the Spirit of Jesus Christ, as the self-activation and self-revelation of the living Jesus Christ, we can believe and confess it in face of that hard antithesis Christ the Crucified is a stumbling-block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks (I Cor. 1:23f), but to those who are called He is the power of God and the wisdom of God."

- Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, IV/2, pp. 349-50.

This comes from a section I am currently ruminating on while dissertating, so ...
Any thoughts?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Holy Spirit is not a magical third...

“The Holy Spirit is not a magical third between Jesus and us. God himself acts in his own most proper cause when in the Holy Spirit he mediates between the man Jesus and other humans. For God is not the great immovable and immutable one and all ... [but] the living God, and as such, our God, who really turns to us ... because in the first instance distance and confrontation, encounter and partnership, are to be found in himself”
- Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, IV/2, p. 343