The problem of how to relate the existential to the objective moment of salvation is one to which Barth finds himself returning again and again. Especially because he lays such great stress on the unconditional priority of the objective moment, he realizes that the integrity of the corresponding existential moment is in danger of being underplayed or even undercut. "Reality which does not become truth for us," he writes, "obviously cannot affect us, however supreme may be its ontological dignity" (IV/2, 297). A salvation, an ontological connection of Christ to us, that remained merely objective with no existential counterpart would be a salvation that remained inaccessible and hollow. Yet a salvation whose truth and reality somehow depended on our preparation, reception, or enactment would be salvation in which the existential moment was at some point (whether overtly and covertly) grounded in us rather than in Jesus Christ. When the reality of salvation becomes true for us, Barth argues, then at the same time we recognize that it was already true apart from us (and even against us). Whatever preparation, reception, or enactment may have been involved (and continues to be involved), our recognition is not to be conceived as in any sense constituting the truth or actuality of salvation. Our recognition is simply our awakening to the fact that, in Jesus Christ, salvation's truth and actuality really pertain and apply to us as well, that we are included in them, that they are real for us, precisely by having been established apart from us. Our awakening does not do anything to make salvation as such true or actual. It merely means that we have come to see that we are not outside but inside this saving truth and actuality. But precisely because we are inside and not outside, it is necessary that salvation also take place in our own life. When salvation does take place in our life, however, it is not the existential occurence that brings about the actuality and truth of salvation, but rather the actuality and truth of salvation that bring about the existential occurence. The existential occurence is manifesting, not a constituting, of salvation's actuality and truth.
--George Hunsinger, How to Read Karl Barth, p. 153
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Truth as Encounter in Barth's thought: The problem of relating the existential and objective moments of salvation
As a prelude to a thread that I want to begin on "Justification and Catholicity in the Third Millennium," I have re-produced the following quote from George Hunsinger's How to Read Karl Barth. This should lay a good foundation for the discussion to follow.