Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Trevor Hart on Barth: Mapping the Moral Field

The man to whom the Word of God is directed and for whom the work of God was done -- it is all one whether we are thinking of the Christian who has grasped it in faith and related it to himself, or the man in the cosmos who has not yet done so -- this man, in virtue of this Word and work, does not exist by himself. He is not an independent subject to be considered independently ... whether he knows and believes it or not -- it is simply not true that he belongs to himself and is left to himself, that he is thrown back upon himself. He belongs to ... Jesus Christ ... He i.e., that which has been decided and is real for man in this Subject is true for him. Therefore the divine command as it is directed to him, as it applies to him, consists in his relationship to this Subject. (Church Dogmatics, 2/2, p. 539, quoted by Trevor Hart in Regarding Karl Barth, p. 80-1)

Trevor Hart comments:

...Believers and non-believers alike are situated (have their true being) within the dynamics of this one man's fulfillment of the covenant on their behalf. Consequently we are called to live in God's world as constituted thus, a world in which good human action is defined and realized on our behalf by Jesus Christ, in whose life, death and resurrection God has fulfilled the covenant and thereby established the kingdom in our midst, bringing our humanity (and with it creation itself) to its proper telos. Our action is thereby bounded and determined by our identification (not identity) with the one who stands before and among us as 'the elect of God'. It is characterized as obedience or disobedience accordingly as it confirms or contradicts our being as those who exist only in relation to him and his history. (Regarding Karl Barth, p. 81)

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