In the Beginning…. the Election of Jesus Christ


I’ve just started reading Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics II/2. § 33: The Election of Jesus Christ (hey, when Jürgen Moltmann gives you a reading assignment, you don’t waste any time!). As always, Barth is slow reading and difficult to digest; I may try to do a blog or two on it as I find time (or, if/when I find this segment of Barth to be comprehensible enough to publicly reflect on!), but for now I wanted to post this extended quotation, that basically lays out how (reflecting on John 1:1-2) Barth will attempt to tell the story of election as an event in God that takes place “in the beginning” and has Jesus Christ as its focal point. Enjoy!

In the beginning, before time and space as we know them, before creation, before there was any reality distinct from God which could be the object of the love of God or the setting for His acts of freedom, God anticipated and determined within Himself (in the power of His love and freedom, of His knowing and willing) that the goal and meaning of all His dealings with the as yet non-existent universe should be the fact that in His Son he would be gracious toward man, uniting Himself with him. In the beginning it was the choice of the Father Himself to establish this covenant with man by giving up His Son for him, that He Himself might become man in the fulfillment of His grace. In the beginning it was the choice of the Son to be obedient to grace, and therefore to offer up Himself and to become man in order that this covenant might be made a reality. In the beginning it was the resolve of the Holy Spirit that the unity of God, of Father and Son should not be disturbed or rent by this covenant with man, but that it should be made t he more glorious, the deity of God , the divinity of His love and freedom, being confirmed and demonstrated by this offering of the Father and this self-offering of the Son. This choice was in the beginning. As the subject and object of this choice, Jesus Christ was at the beginning. He was not at the beginning of God, for God has indeed no beginning. But He was at the beginning of all things, at the beginning of God’s dealings with the reality which is distinct from Himself. Jesus Christ was the choice or election of God in respect of this reality. He was the election of God’s grace as directed towards man. He was the election of God’s covenant with man.
CD II/2, p. 101-102

I’m looking forward to discovering how Barth develops these ideas!

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