31 maj 2013

#124. Karl har ordet...

"That it is even possible to speak of God and of our relationship with God appears to presuppose that the abyss between God and humanity had been fundamentally bridged; it presupposes the real presence of God the Father and God the Spirit in the world, in that which is finite, temporal, given. But that means, if it really were true, a finite, temporal given presence of God, a contingent presence of God – unique, concrete, limited like anything else in the world, but yet the presence of God.

The idea of the immanence of God in the world and in humanity is not, in and of itself, the presence of God the Spirit. It could just as well be another expression for the world or humanity, a hypostasization of given reality. And the idea of the transcendance of God over against the world and humanity is certainly not, in and of itself, the presence of God the Father. It can just as well be another expression for that which is nonworld, nonhuman, the mere negation of given reality. That these ideas really refer to God, that is, that they are not merely ideas but the presence of the Father outside of us and the Spirit in us, needs to be warranted. But where else could that warrant come from, and who else could provide it, than God himself? And if it should be really given, then it must be given in such a way that the Spirit in us is unambiguously distingiushed from the similarly infinite negativity that is its unavoidable reverse side.

If it is to be warranted that we are dealing here and there with the reality of God, then this reality clearly must itself be finite, temporal, contingent, not confusable with the inifinty of the world nor with the infinite negation of the world but rather, over against both infinities as they mutually abrogate eachother, conquering and reconciling in their midst that which is absolutely unique, unrepeatable, individual – revelation. That God has revealed himself, that is, that a certain particle of temporal and spatial reality is identical with God himself, that is the warrant that God is present in us and outside us, precisely at that point where we otherwise would only be able to think of the infinity of the world and its total questionableness.

This is, however, the language of the doctrine of the Trinity: the Son, Jesus Christ, the Word that becomes flesh [see John 1:14]. He is the one with whom humanity has to do when humanity has to do with God, with God's contingent revelation. Here the decision is made about who and what the Father is, and who and what the Spirit is. The questions about the essence of the Father and of the Spirit are secondary and derived questions. As questions of any substance, they can only be posed from this center, from the revelation of the Son, let alone be answered. Through the Son, the Father speaks with us, and the Holy Spirit lets itself be recognized as the Spirit of the Son. The question of God the Father and God the Spirit is decided at the question of the incarnation, at the question of what it means that Christ is true God and true man.

To put it in the language of the issue of the Lord's supper (for the issue of the Lord's supper is only a translation or variation or illustration of the issue of the incarnation), it has to do with what it means to say, 'this' ['hoc'], this thing here, this particle of nature, creature, fallen creation 'is my body' ['est corpus meum'] [see Matt. 26:26 parallels]. […] What does it mean that God, God himself in Christ, communicates himself (not in general, not everywhere, not in the entire world, and also not in our ideas but rather) as that most concrete thing [concretissimum], that he lets himself be known and enjoyed by us? This is the point from which it is then possible for us to speak about everything else that we are, have, and experience in relation to God. Everything that unfolds between the Word of God on the one hand and the faith and obedience of man on the other must be illumined and proven from this point." (Barth s. 163–166)

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