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Showing posts from September, 2013

Participation in Christ, part 2 (revelation & reconciliation)

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This post continues a series looking at "Participation in Christ (An Entry into Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics)" by Adam Neder. To read other posts in this series click on a number: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 78910.

According to Neder, "Barth's conception of dogmatics is grounded in his understanding of revelation, which governs his doctrine of participation in Christ..." (p1). Barth stressed the priority of the Word of God, understood in its ultimate sense to be Jesus Christ, who "establishes an orderly fellowship between himself and human beings" (p1). Thus, "revelation is inseparable from reconciliation" (p1) as "an event of divine-human union" (p3).

This equating of revelation with reconciliation, accomplished through the continuing event of the Incarnation, has significant implications, including that in Jesus, God "speaks to human beings in a creaturely form... through creaturely media" (p3). For Barth, Jesus is both th…

Participation in Christ, part 1

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This post begins a series looking at Professor Adam Neder's helpful book, "Participation in Christ (An Entry into Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics)." To read other posts in this series, click on a number: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 78910.

Perhaps you've read parts of Barth's Dogmatics and found it rather difficult and daunting (6 million words in 13 volumes!). I'm thankful to Dr. Neder for writing this accessible book, which shows how participation in Christ is a key concept in Barth's theology. Neder comments:
According to Barth, revelation, election, creation, reconciliation and redemption all take place "in Christ," and their meaning and content may only be rightly comprehended in him. In fact, the very being of all humanity itself is objectively included in the being of Jesus Christ, and is likewise subjectively (i.e., by individual people) realized in him. In these acts of inclusion and realization, the creature is incorporated into a depth of f…

The gospel and other religions

A friend recently asked me some related questions:
How should Christians think of other religions? I know that we are supposed to love our neighbors and even our enemies, and I believe that all humanity, in Jesus, is included in God's love and life. But how do we convey this truth to those who follow other religions if we are not supposed to offend them? I feel my friend's angst here because, in part, he is reacting to the cultural trend that says we must be tolerant of all viewpoints and critical of none. Perhaps he also wrestles with the idea that God has reconciled himself to all people despite their religious beliefs.

First, let me comment on the idea that God has reconciled all humanity to himself. This universal reconciliation is entirely God's work of grace, in Christ, apart from any effort or merit of our own. This means that people are not reconciled to God because of their religious belief or practices, Christian or otherwise. This reconciliation was accomplishe…

Barth on the doctrines of God and ethics

The video embedded below is of a helpful lecture from David McGregor, sharing Karl Barth's insights concerning the essential connection between God's nature and Christian ethics.

When talking about ethics, Barth always started with God. His belief was that God's being (as the tri-personal God who is love) and God's doing, are inseparably linked. In Church Dogmatics he proclaimed: "God is who He is, and lives as what He is, in that He does what He does."

Barth then noted that we have in the person (being) and work (doing) of the Incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ, the definitive revelation of who God is and what God does. Barth then noted that through our relationship (union and communion) with Jesus we participate by grace in God's own being and doing. Thus Barth approached Christian ethics as our participation in the love (being) and life (doing) of Christ himself. This relational view of ethics, grounded in a tri-personal, relational view of God, is fu…

Torrance on theosis

Early church theologians often mentioned a belief in the concept of theosis, (from apotheosis in Greek, sometimes referred to as deification or divinization from deificatio in Latin). The concept flows from the biblical teaching that humans, in union with Christ and through the enablement of the Spirit, may participate in the divine nature (see, for example, 2Pet 1:4).

As noted by Mark Habets in Theosis in the Theology of Thomas Torrance, T.F. frequently made reference to the idea of theosis. Here is a quote from Habet's book:
Torrance’s earliest mention of theosis occurs amidst a discussion of Christology, when, commenting on the relevance of the hypostatic union for men and women he writes, "And in this God-Man we partake in grace, as members of his body, reconciled to God through him and in him, and even it is said, are incomprehensibly partakers of Divine nature!" Here as early as 1938-39 we have a bold statement on the orthodoxy of theosis and how it functions withi…