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The Three Forms of the Doctrine of Reconciliation

The Three Forms of the Doctrine of Reconciliation

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Published by Donald H. Kim
Summary of Barth's Church Dogmatics
Summary of Barth's Church Dogmatics

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Published by: Donald H. Kim on Oct 08, 2013
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Donald H.

Kim 1/19/2005

The Three Forms of the Doctrine of Reconciliation Barth begins his treatise on the Doctrine of Reconciliation by stating three Christological aspects behind reconciliation. The first premise is that Jesus Christ is very much God. He states: “The reconciliation of man with God takes place as God Himself actively intervenes, Himself taking in His cause with and against and for man, the cause of the covenant, and in such a way that He Himself becomes man” (128). Jesus Christ and the Godhead developed not from abstract notions of theological thought, but from Jesus Christ himself. He defines the concepts; they do not define him. What does that mean that Jesus Christ is man and God? For Barth, Jesus Christ is both fully man and fully God. This leads to his second aspect: Jesus Christ is altogether man and altogether God, as part of the Godhead whose glory results from the humiliation. What does his manhood mean then? How do we know precisely what results from the Godhead in Jesus Christ? His manhood is fully defined not by collecting data from anywhere else other than from him and him alone. His manhood must be told by him. We are told that Jesus Christ is the true man, a creature that is exalted above his creatureliness, exalted above us, who precedes us in all creation. As God, he is humiliated, he takes our place, but he is exalted. From this aspect, Barth connects the Jesus Christ humility with atonement (131). The third aspect is the view of Jesus Christ in history, in what Barth describes as being unified and complete. The extent of Jesus Christ and his existence in history is reconciliation. Barth writes: “He Himself is the Mediator and pledge of the covenant” (136). The authenticity of reconciliation is in Jesus Christ. He is the authentic witness, by revealing both himself and the fulfillment that he brings into the world by bridging the gap between man and God. The completeness is further characterized by the fact that we are not the agent of the revelatory event. We cannot produce it. We cannot initiate it. We cannot attest it for others. But rather, “it encounters us majestically in Him—the promise of the truth which avails for us as the atonement” (137). The promise of the future is ensured by this promise of truth and the atonement that Jesus Christ fulfills in us. He is the Word of God that beckons us into the relationship with God. He calls us to Him and therefore calls us also to ourselves (137). These Christological bases reveal the final fulfillment, that is, the atonement. It is the fulfillment by God of the covenant broken by man, because of the sins committed and the consequences of those sins. When this fulfillment comes and is fully revealed, the Christian proclamation becomes heavily stressed in its hostile message to mankind with the message of sin. That message of sin does not become clear until the knowledge of Jesus as the revelation of the grace of God, unraveling the nature of man as the transgressor. Barth presents sin three negations: 1) it is opposite of what God does for us in Jesus Christ in humbling himself, 2) it is opposite of what God did in Jesus Christ as the servant who became Lord, and 3) it is opposite of the fact that God in Jesus Christ has made himself the Guarantor of the reality and atonement (142-143). Thus, Jesus Christ brings with him not only the atonement, but the reality that fits the mold of atonement. That reality is sin. Questions: 1. If Jesus Christ is the key to the knowledge of sin, how does sin affect mankind without this reality? What happens to the reality 2. How do we distinguish what Jesus Christ tells us about himself from man’s concocted ways of describing Jesus Christ?

Jesus Christ comes as a helper. How is God for us? How is Savior of the world and still be the cause of its destruction? For Barth. but this time as Judge. by undertaking to do Himself what the world cannot do. Moreover. God responds. There is no longer a case against us to prosecute. “Deus pro nobis means simply that God has not abandoned the world and man in the unlimited need of his situation. and that He cries with man in this need” (215). This is the reason for his humbling of himself. Why then did he become man? Barth’s answer: In order to judge the world as Judge in his kingly freedom. He was judged in our place. He faced the dreadful conditions of sin. takes place in Jesus Christ. He brings proper order. arresting and reversing its course to the abyss” (213). He fulfilled his own righteous judgment on men by taking our place as man and in our place: “He judged.Donald H. He took our place as the judged. who let Himself be judged” (222). being in the flesh and vulnerable to sin. He took our place as Judge. He comes as the kingdom of God in person to reconcile the world. Barth poses the question of Anselm: Cur Deus homo? Why is God man? For what end and purpose does God become man? The answer: Propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem. i. When God is for us.e. the salvation of men and the world. But this world is under judgment. Questions: 1. a redeemer. He first joins the world by becoming man himself. he became the brother of man. but that He willed to bear this need as His own. Barth begins his discourse on the person of Christ. The compelling reason is not there was a need for God to intervene. because “God reveals and increases His own glory in the world in the incarnation of His Son by taking to Himself the radical neediness of the world. because Jesus Christ is the Judge and he is the measure of all righteousness (219). He became just like us. Now the question is: why? Barth quotes 1 John 4:14: “The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” Therefore. Jesus Christ acted justly in our place. that He took it upon Himself. What Barth has done in this section is a judicial deliberation of Jesus Christ as the Judge and the judged. Why Jesus Christ’s own judgment upon himself as Judge so important for fulfilling a cause? Does this fit the Godhead as Jesus being the Judge. the judgment that which Jesus Christ exercises. but to judge the world in his grace in the execution of his judgment. Kim 1/19/2005 The Judge Judged In Our Place The interesting title to this section direct the readers again to the nature of Jesus Christ. The legal requirements were fulfilled in the judged Judge on behalf of men. and it was the Judge who was judged. The world was in the state of perversion. having fallen into eternal death under the auspices of the nothingness. This is the theologia crucis.. because it is the presupposition to any undertaking of the doctrine of reconciliation. our sin ceases to be ours. Jesus Christ made our sin his own. So therefore. but the reason lies in the reality that “the world had radical need of His work as Creator. There was no need to become a creature in any way as a necessity of being the Creator. to which it owes no less than its very being” (212). He brings the ultimate judgment. Another answer: Deus pro nobis. he does not abandon us in the condition that sets mankind in dire straits. The completeness of the act of Jesus Christ is in the fulfillment of righteousness as if we were in the court of law. When the Judge was judged in our place. Jesus Christ also comes into the world as Judge. in his being and activity as one who is amongst us (216). or can the Father be a better fit? .

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