Friday, July 17, 2015

Blogging with Barth: CD 2.2 §34.4 "The Passing and The Coming Man" pp. 259-305

Check here for previous posts in the "Blogging with Barth" series or check here for a detailed reading schedule for the Church Dogmatics with links to the respective posts I've written to accompany each day's reading.

The Leitsatz (thesis statement) for §34 states: "The election of grace, as the election of Jesus Christ, is simultaneously the eternal election of the one community of God by the existence of which Jesus Christ is to be attested to the whole world and the whole world summoned to faith in Jesus Christ. This one community of God in its form as Israel has to serve the representation of the divine judgment, in its form as the Church the representation of the divine mercy. In its form as Israel it is determined for hearing, and in its form as the Church for believing the promise sent forth to man. To the one elected community of God is given in the one case its passing, and in the other its coming form."

In paragraph §34 ("The Election of the Community") and subsection §34.4 ("The Passing and the Coming Man"), Barth looks at Israel and the church in terms of the passing man on the one side and the coming man on the other. Barth begins with a reminder...
In the eternal election of the one man Jesus of Nazareth, God, merciful in His judgment, appoints for man a gracious end and a new gracious beginning. He makes him die in order that he may truly live. He makes him pass in order that he may acquire a real future. The purpose of the election of this One is God’s righteous and saving will to deal with man’s need at its very root and to show this man the supreme favour by taking his place in the person of this One, taking away from man and upon Himself the bitterness of man’s end, and bringing upon man the whole joy of the new beginning. Thus the election of this One is His election to death and to life, to passing and to new coming. The elected community of God as the environment of the elected man, Jesus of Nazareth, and therefore as the place where God’s honour dwells, must correspond to this twofold determination of its Head by existing itself also in a twofold form, in a passing and a coming form, in a form of death and a form of life (259-260).
Barth then turns to explain the role of the passing man, Israel, in election.
The specific service which within the whole of the elected community is Israel’s determination is the praise of the mercy of God in the passing, the death, the setting aside of the old man, of the man who resists his election and therefore God. When Israel becomes obedient to its election by being awakened to faith through the promise of God fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, its special contribution to the work of the whole community then consists in the critical reminder that the man who resists God is in process of passing, that he must pass in order to receive incorruptible life in peace with God, and that for his salvation he will not be spared this passing—in and with the passing to which God has subjected Himself in His Son. The Church needs this contribution. Its witness to Jesus Christ and to the living future promised in Him to man cannot be heard without the background and undertone of the message of Israel whose Messiah is the Crucified (260).
Not only that, but God's election of Israel means that God is electing for Himself the death of Jesus Christ with a view towards the resurrection!

As for the Church, it has a special service to render as a witness to the coming man and displaying what God has intended in his election of the church.
Independently of Israel’s choice and way, the service of the Church as the perfect form of the one community of God consists in attesting, by faith in the Word heard, by laying hold of the divine mercy, the coming kingdom of God as the end of all human need, the coming new man and his eternal life. The Church exists among Jews and Gentiles because Jesus in His resurrection does not shatter the power of death in vain but with immediate effect; because as the witness to eternal life He cannot remain alone but at once awakens, gathers and sends forth recipients, partners and co-witnesses of this life. The Church thus proclaims Jesus’ exaltation as the goal of His humiliation, His kingdom as the goal of His suffering, His coming as the goal of His passing. It proclaims what in God’s hands is to become and can become of man taken up and accepted by Him. Its message is, therefore, the final and decisive word of the charge committed to the whole community of God, in which the special word given to Israel has its appointed place, and which it has to assist as a foreword.
The Church form of the community reveals the scope of what God wills for man when in His eternal election of grace He elects him for fellowship with Himself. In electing him from all eternity He elects him for eternity. In electing him in grace He elects him for his salvation. In electing him for fellowship with Himself He makes Himself the Guarantor and Giver of the eternal salvation offered to man. Without ceasing to be God, and without man ceasing to be man, He really invests him with His own glory (265).
The Church is the perfect form of the community because the message which the community (the environment of the man Jesus) has to transmit to the world acquires its true and essential form as the message of the Church, the form of the Gospel, of glad tidings for all who are defrauded and deprived of their rights, for all captives and sick persons, for all who are astray and in distress. With such a message Jesus Himself stands in the midst of His own, and proclaimed by the service of His own wills to go out into the world (265-266).
In grateful recognition of the ties and obligations binding it to Israel, [the Church] will be glad to have in its midst Christians from the Jews also. It will itself desire to be no more than Israel fulfilling its determined purpose, to live by nothing else but the grace of God directed towards Israel. Though waiting for Israel’s conversion, it cannot and will not hesitate to precede Israel with the confession of the unity of God’s community, the unity of the man who, according to the will of the divine mercy, both passes and comes in the person of Him who has suffered death for all and brought life to light for all (276).
Barth closes with a lengthy small-print section covering Romans 11 on pp. 267-305.