Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Karl Barth on God's Faithfulness to the People Israel

"Is Israel's mission thereby superseded? No, on the contrary, through everything the Old Testament again and again insists that God's election holds and will hold to all eternity. This man who is thus set forth as he is in Israel, is and remains the man elect by God and the man in consequence entrusted with this mission. Where man fails, God's faithfulness triumphs. And this Israel, which is a great demonstration of man's unworthiness, at the same time becomes a demonstration of God's free grace, which asks no questions about man's attitude, but sovereignly pronounces upon man a 'nevertheless,' by which he is upheld. Man is nothing but the object of the divine compassion, and where he wants to be more, he must necessarily rebel against this Israel-existence. Israel is simply thrown upon God and simply directed to Him. Read the Psalms: 'Thou only....' Man appears simply as a hearer of God's Word, and is set, and remains, under God's lordship, even if he attempts time and again to withdraw from it. And in the fulfillment of his mission, in the crucified Jesus of Nazareth, here most of all it becomes visible once more what Israel means. What else is the Jesus hanging on the gallows but this Israel once more in its sin and godlessness? Yes, this blasphemer is Israel. And this Israel's name is now Jesus of Nazareth. And if we glance again at Jewish history and see the strangeness and absurdity of the Jew, his obnoxiousness which repeatedly made him odious among the nations -- and now you may give the anti-Semitic register full play -- what else does that mean but the confirmation of this rejected Israel, which by God was made visible at the Cross, but also of the Israel with whom God keeps faith right through all stages of his wandering?"

--Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1959), 79

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