Saturday, June 4, 2011

Barth I.2 §14.3

Barth wraps up section 14 with his discussion of the time of the New Testament and the time of the church.  The time of the New Testament is a time of recollection.  It looks backward as it witnesses the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. To the extent that it gives a proper witness to Jesus Christ, it participates in "fulfilled time," in God's time, but it is not identical with that fulfilled time.  The time of the New Testament is much more akin to the time of expectation in the Old Testament.  The difference is now that it has seen the concrete revelation of God in the event of Jesus Christ.  Yet, the NT is not only a time of recollection.  According to Barth, if the NT only looked back at the event of Jesus Christ as a past historical event, an event which came into being and then passed away, it would not be true Christianity, but a form of ebionitism.  While the NT is a time of recollection of a past event, because what it is recollecting is God's fulfilled time, which neither comes into being, nor passes out of being, then the time of the NT is also a time of expectation, of the God who is coming.

Barth explains this section in three subsections. 

1) The time of the NT is one of recollection of the fulfillment of the expectation of the Old Testament.  The Covenant of God with man expected in the OT is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  Christ is not just in line with other OT men of God, with the Patriarchs, Prophets and Kings, but is the fulfillment of what the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Kings were expecting. 

2) The time of the NT is the recollection of the revelation of the hidden God, God's hiddenness seen in his judgment.  His judgment is absolutely complete in the passion of Jesus.  In Christ's passion, the entire hiddenness and judgment of God is poured out on humanity and is complete.  The crucifixion of Jesus brings Jews and Gentiles together under the judgment of God.  Both Jews and Gentiles are complicit in the crucifixion of Christ, and are both brought to stand on equal footing before God both equally say NO to God's revelation.  Yet, the resurrection of Christ is God's divine YES to humanity, his demonstration not only of Judgment poured out, but also of reconciliation.

3) The time of the NT is not only a time of recollection of a past event, but is also witness to the expectation to the God who is coming.  The event of Easter, the breaking in of God's "fulfilled time" into our time, while it took place in the "past" does not cease to exist.  God's fulfilled time does not pass away.  It is eschatological in the sense that this event of Easter, God's yes, is one that has taken place once for all and is still to be fulfilled.  Thus, the time of the NT, and subsequently, the time of the Church, is not only a time of recollection, but also a time of expectation of the God who is coming.  The Christian looks backward in recollection of the event of the cross and at the same time must look forward to the coming of Christ.  There is not one without the other.  The time of the Church is both recollection in faith and hope in the future.

Barth does a good job in this section of keeping with the continuity of the story of the OT and NT.  Both look toward the revelation of God, both expect a God who is coming.  The only difference is that in the NT and beyond, the Church looks both backward and forward at the God who has come and is coming. 

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