Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Death of Christ

Who is Jesus Christ for me? He is the only human being in the whole world of history who has dared to claim what God himself claimed in the Old Covenant and who was therefore seen as crazy and possessed (Mk. 3:21ff) and was thus crucified for raising this claim. For it is fitting for a sage to show humility and for a prophet to say “Thus says the Lord,” but not for someone to say: “But I say unto you.”

God the Father has confirmed this claim by raising Jesus from the dead and this has launched the primitive Christian kernel of dogmatics, grounding all its statements: that God is love; that the immanent Trinity has been revealed in the economic Trinity; and indeed that this revelation is God’s “orthopraxis” – the total surrendering of his Son to the point of descent into hell. This is the greatest possible conception of God: he is, with Hegel, identity of identity (God is everything, he is eternal life) and of non-idenity (God is dead insofar as he has identified himself with godlessness; he is so vital (so much love) that he can afford to be dead. No religion or world view has dared to think or proclaim anything like this about God, man and the world. That is why Christianity remains without analogy in the world; it rests not on an “idea” but on a fact: Jesus Christ. And this is a fact that remains as an unfissionable atom, fused into a unity of claim, Cross and Resurrection. On this fact depends whether we can dare to address Being as love and thus whether we can see everything that exists as worthy of love. This is a thought without the countenance of the world would be scarcely endurable to us.

- von Balthasar

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