復和、升天、真實臨在:以路德神學襯托巴特神學本體論的公共神學意涵

文/邱慕天

前言:本文由兩本最近系統神學類別之後自由建構神學著作的貢獻開始評估,嘗試具體描繪巴特神學為21世紀健全之神學體系帶出的可靠方向,側重點在於上帝啟示的「全開」(a God who reveals Himself in His triune entirety),以及以嚴格基督中心論為擔保(warranted by strict Christocentrism)的宇宙和公共研究與實踐。

【復和中的上帝實存】

強森(Adam J. Johnson)的《復和中的上帝實存》(God’s Being in Reconciliation: The Theological Basis of the Unity and Diversity of the Atonement in the Theology of Karl Barth, 2012)一書,將巴特(Karl Barth)、雲格爾(Eberhard Jüngel)、麥考馬克(Bruce McCormack)、尼莫(Paul Nimmo)所力展的「實動本體論」(actualistic ontology),套用在基督救贖事件的理解,一方面為後自由巴特建構神學做出了貢獻,也進一步指出「復和神學」其實具有空前強大的神學本體論和聖經基礎。

9780567123459

鑑於聖經當中對基督救贖工作的描述難以彙整,當前的解經多半採取「由下至上」(bottom-up)的方式,意即將相關經文的形象描繪(十架、寶血、羔羊、法官)在文化處境中作相對化的處理,但強森在書中強調,巴特神學係取道神學本體論來談救贖,變成將聖經語言帶入三一本體論,「由上至下」(top-down)的解經方式。

如此一來,上帝的三一多元性和關係性,就有機會在信經的哲學語言框架知中,吸納這些救贖論的聖經形象語言,而豐富了三一本體論的實質,並且在彼此之間不需要引發邏輯先後衝突(例如:一下是「父親與浪子」,一下是「羔羊與祭司」,一下是「國王與臣僕」等等「角色扮演」)。

同樣地,「神人和好的神學」(theology of reconciliation),也會因著三一本體論與歷史之間這道橋樑的搭建,而同獲其益。

更近一步地,我們透過各種人間「罪惡的經歷」,從而合法地反向辯證地推得出上帝的各種完美純全(the diversity of the divine perfections vs. the multiplicity of human sin)。原因在於:救贖論表明,基督已經擔負了人類的一切罪,而這些罪被上帝的種種完美所轉化,就是神學最大的啟示(例如:冷漠、恨、憤怒,轉為悲憫、愛、喜樂)。

在實際新舊兩約的解經中,則會需要強調「聖殿」這個象徵上帝臨在的意象;基督以肉身顯現,就是以色列救贖歷史、「耶路撒冷聖殿」預表上帝臨在的終極實現(realization and actualization);它被毀被棄,又在三日內重新建造起;最後透過聖靈降臨與聖餐聖禮(基督的肉身破碎為我們捨,而後吃進體內;從此我們的身體是神的殿,是活祭;作為合一的教會又是基督的身體、上帝在人間臨在的記號、聖靈更新工作的先鋒),轉進到聖而公之教會。

值得注意的是,在普林斯頓巴特研究資料庫中的書評(http://www.ptsem.edu/library/barth/default.aspx?menu1_id=8457&id=25769806937),現哈佛神學博士生萊斯(Scott Rice)指出缺少「復活」的神學向度,是強森《復和中的上帝實存》這本精彩著作的缺憾。

而就如筆者2年半前曾在[文摘] Election, Free Will, and Divine Ontology in Barth’s Soteriology 巴特救恩論上的揀選、意志,和上帝本體的問題末端約略提及的,傳統的巴特基督論神學在「復活」到「升天」這之間的40天留下了巨大的空白。

【升天神學】

這個問題在法羅(Douglas Farrow)的《升天神學》(Ascension Theology, 2011)中再次被挑起,法羅明確地指出,復活基督的形體,與原先的創造界中的物質既有連續性、相同性(祂依然正常進食、保留了「道成肉身」十架苦難時受的傷痕)」、也「相殊」(復活後祂向抹大拉的馬利亞說「不要碰我」、能自由穿牆)。

9780567073808

如果我們強調(復活基督的形體與這現存世界)相同性,那麼「上帝救恩」藉著「基督復活」這初熟果子開創的神學先例,代表我們可以盼望著創造界和人類被提升到一種新的「超自然」和「超物質」狀態,並且最終和天國/聖城趨於同一。這傾向得到「後千禧年」派終末論的背書。

反之,當我們強調相異性,那麼創造界和人類只會維持原樣直到耶穌再來。因為基督復活的身體--復活的我們都會成為這樣--是在上帝國「廢去」天地一切創造物後,才會普及到我們這些復活聖徒的靈魂身上。而既然原先的肉身物質與創造都要廢去,那麼這當然是「前千禧年」派的終末論。

在法羅看來,「同質性」所帶出的問題是極難處理的。首先,一個升天的基督如果還是與受造界相連、具有形體,那麼以現在的宇宙科學和太空遙測科學,照理應該讓基督(以及天堂)即使「升天」,依然無所遁形才是;同時讓「終末新天新地」與當前物質界無縫接軌的後千禧年派思考,也讓他感覺不自在。換句話說,「同質性」的復活論,迫使神學必須在宇宙物理模型內安置升天基督以及天堂。

對法羅這位天主教的巴特神學家來說,用基督升天論來支援我們的神學科學的宇宙論玄想(cosmological speculation)是不恰當的;我們的「空間神學」詞窮了,講不出這「天」在哪。

所以他認為,我們必須確實地否定基督復活升天事件本身有為這個宇宙帶來任何「本質性的變化」,也必須肯認基督升天之後,祂的肉身是確實地超脫了這個宇宙所能被觀測到的任何存有場域中。

blackwhiteholes

從而,耶穌升天「坐在天父的右手邊」,變成一種不具真實宇宙空間地位的類比語言;僅僅意味著基督在神學邏輯上處於「尊位」,各種關於三一本體論的意象也隨之變得抽象邏輯化和不可知(因為假如我們以當前某種已知的實質空間維度設想「天堂」,那變成仍是一種會在宇宙論上遇到科學挑戰的玄想)。

【復活與升天40天之間的破壞二元論】

然而法羅此舉,讓同為天主教後自由巴特神學家的韋布(Stephen H. Webb)深表遺憾。他在2013年12月的First Things撰文表示,如果我們不強調升天後的基督與一般人類的「同質性」,那只剩下「否定神學」(apophatic theology)一項本體論探究工具的我們,豈不是連「耶穌現在人在何處」一事都無法確知?

亦即,既然祂沒有「真正地在父右手邊」以及「不具備跟你我之肉身可類比的物質性與空間性」,如此一來不但掏空了耶穌復活40天記載的意義,也讓眾聖徒復活的倫理想像(1 Cor 15)變得扁平無根。

我們亦可以這樣問:難道祂復活後這40天經歷了「第一段變身」,升天還要經歷一個我們所不知道、聖經也無明指的「第二段變身」嗎?這樣,福音書對「第一段變身」狀態提供這麼多線索,本來是為了支援「我信身體復活」和 1 Cor 15,而被一個型態不可知的「第二段變身」取消了神學倫理上的關注價值。

殊為可惜的,是法羅的神學被認為將導致「神的終極啟示,終究還是祂的隱藏(hiddenness)」這個背離巴特本意的結論,使「神學」作為一個和其主要旨趣/主人(Subject)真實相交的喜樂之認識論(epistemology of joy),最終仍不可得。

法羅選擇了一條安全的神學道路。確實韋布也注意到,過去諾斯底的異端就是把物質界和觀念界分為有連續性的很多「層」,而耶穌作為降到最低層「物質界」的神,在世目的就是向世人啟示完「上升」之法門後,自己先往較上一層的宇宙移動,等候我們一起上去。這樣一種「人可神化」(deification)的靈修和倫理想像,一樣是招致瘋狂。

法羅反對這套諾斯底異端說法,同時與有神化教義(theosis、deification)的東正教傳統保持較遠的距離。他這套神學取徑更為直接的應用語境,當然是天主教和基督新教;特別是對於聖餐中「上帝真實臨在」的概念上,法羅希望天主教對於「臨在」(presence)的過份重視(「化質說」)能少一點,而基督新教強調「缺席」(absence)的矯枉過正傾向(「紀念說」)也能往回修正;是為「各打20大板」。

法羅自述其《升天神學》一書的目的和價值:

This book revises and extends the line of thought in Ascension and Ecclesia, further treating eucharistic theology, the heavenly session with its earthly ramifications, and eschatology.  While intended for a broad ecumenical readership, it is nonetheless described by one scholarly reviewer as ‘an absolutely first-rate addition to the body of Catholic systematics’.

【與馬丁路德的十架神學傳統對觀】

最後,在神的空間性、十架事件的啟示性、聖餐的臨在性與公共性這些系統神學層面上,能凸顯強森、法羅、韋布三人的所推進的(後自由)巴特神學本體論之貢獻的,最適合就是與馬丁路德的十架神學傳統對觀。

正如林鴻信在《覺醒中的自由:路德神學精要》一書(2004, p.139),以及阿爾托依茲(Paul Althaus)在《馬丁路德神學》(The Theology of Martin Luther, 1966)所指出,路德既反對天主教「化質說」,也不贊成慈運理「紀念說」的聖餐觀,因而主張「同質說」,並且發展出「同時遍在」(ubiquity)的概念,用以說明「基督的身體如何同時臨在不同的聖餐聚會裡」。

此一聖餐神學的開展,與路德對神人二性基督的啟示論/救贖論,甚至兩國論的政治神學倫理都是緊密相扣,而非偶然。

從而對巴特神學而言,也會藉由其中一點的發展或修正,對神學的全盤格局產生不同的理解與應用。

首先與巴特相同的,路德在「使神為神」(Let God be God)的基礎上,否定了任何「人類受限與帶罪的理性」正確認識上帝之可能,但另一面,也同樣強調「基督的人性」,特別是「十字架事件」為「我們的聖梯」,為榮耀的上帝「蒙上(謙卑與羞辱)面紗」與人親近的啟示事件。

按照路德的說法,「真正的神學及認識上帝的道理」之限定意涵,就是「隱藏苦難中的上帝」。

對以色列人來說,這個上帝則是將自己與人相遇的地方限定在一個地上的聖所(會幕、約櫃所在地、聖殿),而降世取了人性並受苦的耶穌基督,就是聖所意義的推延,並且繼續透過聖靈拓展為「普世遍在的基督」,在聖體、聖言的宣講當中與人相遇。

然而值得注意的是路德對「隱藏」的強調。他認為,在這些基督啟示與相遇的型態中,上帝乃是透過「面紗/衣服/面具/偽裝」,讓祂可以親近我們,而不傷害或殺死我們。(就像「太陽」如果不自己降溫,我們想要靠自己接近它,只會被融化成肉汁或蒸氣。)

這裡我想必須先懸置結論來挑戰一點,就是「一個慈愛面容的父親背後真實的樣貌是威嚴得無法逼視的」這種路德本體論陳述,到底是依據何種原則建立?為何不能反過來是「一個威嚴的無法逼視的嚴父背後真實的樣貌其實是軟弱的、慈愛的、破碎的」?

路德把摩西面見威嚴上帝的會幕經歷(Ex 33:9-23)置放於「看見了羔羊耶穌就是看見了父」道肉啟示的神學本體論邏輯(theo-ontic status)之前,斷言那在永恆中我們才有可能面對面接觸的上帝,更近似是摩西、而非使徒遇見的版本。祂如同太陽核心一般,本體帶有絕對的壓迫性和不可親近性;強調神人之間最根本的關係,是絕對的差異與絕對的距離(前期巴特的神學也是在此基礎上展開)。

但奇怪的是,如果真正的上帝是決意在今世的此在(dasein)中向人隱藏的,何以路德可以對這個我們無從知悉、不帶面具的本體上帝面容做出這麼多肯定式的描繪(來自摩西的靈感)?

路德晚年的神學不斷強調,在雙臂如慈父般展開的這位三一上帝背後,是如黑洞般吞噬萬有、漆黑得可怕、是一切邪惡的發源,但又有白洞與榮耀光明的雙極特質的本體。

就巴特看來(而筆者也認同這個意見),此說已犯了在具體啟示之外另作玄想之謬,是對「神聖隱藏性」(divine hidden-ness)的描寫取徑「不夠徹底地否定」(insufficiently apophatic)。

【「從隱藏中的啟示」到「啟示中毫無隱藏」】

巴特的神學將上帝這種黑白雙極的特性,置放在本體與經世三一論(immanent and economic Trinity)的啟示向度中處理-而剩下維繫上帝自存性(divine aseity)的工作,則很小心的使用否定神學架設。更白話的說,就是上帝有時以「義怒」、「向人隱藏」、「獨行其事又不可捉摸」的面向展露自己(「黑面」),有時又用「白面」的「慈愛」、「可親」、「與人共同受苦」的面向露面。而後者,是我們在基督耶穌身上看見的、是上帝啟示的最高峰,因此應比前者的啟示更加地具體,而適合成為我們用來構建「神論」的基石(cornerstone)。

與巴特相較,路德彷彿說「用中世紀經院哲學/唯名論神學可以找到黑白郎君的那位神」(而這位神也是他從前作為天主教修士時痛苦的由來;是帶來「惡魔性」的神學倫理應用的「榮耀神學」)。

當然在路德的經歷中,他後來體會了因信稱義恩典的主,是可愛可親(amiable & sociable)的,並成為特殊啟示的內容。

基於對路德經歷的同情,這點我們在這預作保留,而不要急於用巴特來貶低路德的價值。尤其是就大自然的類比(analogia entis)而言,路德似乎有理;例如深淵、極地、火山、暴雷這些窮凶極惡的現象,與蟲鳴鳥叫五穀豐登的田野,彷彿在自然界中就是上帝雙面性的展示。約伯在旋風中所「親眼見到」(Job 42:5)的那位霸道主權凌駕一切道德與公平概念的,或是摩西在雲霧籠罩、雷轟大作的西乃山頂上面對的,都是這樣一位上帝。

 

路德暗示我們,人們確實有可能憑著技術面的智慧(technē)硬闖摩西和約伯所處的神聖禁區,但這個倚賴基督啟示以外路線的神學,最終結局必然徒勞。因為路德確信:「我們的人性承受不了久居其上」That’s not where our thoughts should healthily dwell, because we cannot afford dwelling there! 我們無法鑽入宇宙黑洞中、穿越亞空間、或是降落於噴發燃燒之紅巨星的表面體察上帝;人類的此在太有限、太渺小了;即使是願意接納康德自然神論和黑格爾將宇宙等同於上帝本體的人文主義者,人類科技也沒有徹底征服宇宙以致於能把上帝啟示和本體抓透的一天。

就一個正統的神學家而言,巴特當然不會對上帝的超驗性做出任何妥協(因此他當然是黑格爾的敵人),然而巴特與路德最大的差別在於,巴特認為如果上帝的偉大是無比的,那麼就連這些「自然類比」都是不倫不類。

巴特認為,如果上帝有隱藏性的一面,那這種隱藏性就是「神學的零度」,是人的語言必須靜默無聲、思想必須完全淨空的地方。

藉著拒絕自然類比(analogia entis ),以及對上帝本體論中的禁地只作否定神學式 (apophatic)的虛寫,巴特更好地排除了人類哲學僭政的空間

同時也把「黑洞、深淵、火山、暴雷、蟲洞、多維宇宙裂縫」這些地方,納入可以被啟示完全消融和克服的表面張力;相信哪怕人類科技得以掌控玄妙的宇宙、甚至翻轉了我們現有的物理秩序,上帝那完全自由與獨行其事的本質也不會有任何改變,因此神學這種「信心的科學」(theology as science of faith),必然在自然科學無法僭越的空間中,保有合乎其核心價值的運作方式。

wormhole-alpha-centauri-copie-1

D_Wormhole

今日我們需要巴特多於路德的其中一個原因就在於,隨著科技的進展和改造人類(transhumanism)的出現,許多五百年前的路德視為人類理性禁區的地方都不再是禁地。

而如果黑格爾所說,整個宇宙歷史是「絕對的靈」的自我辯證啟示,那總有一天人類和創造會共同抵向合一的終點。

在與自由神學的交戰中,巴特基督中心論的啟示論和揀選觀,則一方面並未否定人類技術智慧(technē)積極面的價值(例如:量子力學、高等批判史學),一方面又強調唯有以基督事件(Christ event)為軸心的創造/救贖神學為「公共神學」輻射散逸的原點,方可將我們導向三一上帝的終極本體--亦即,沒有任何一種自然神學觀察、或是聖經語言,可以在基督的歷史事件邏輯更優先地被讀入聖三一本體架構中;唯有「以馬忤斯之路遇見復活的基督」的基督光照神學詮釋學先就定位了,其他的解釋拼圖與工作才按部就班地展開。

一如幾代神學發展之後在路德的神學公共倫理(兩國論;如丹麥或瑞典的國家教會)和巴特的神學公共倫理所呈現的差異面貌,與五百年前的路德相較,巴特這種立基於加爾文神觀把啟示放大的做法,更有潛力恢復神學的長子之尊,不論是在推展科技理性的基礎上,或是維繫以和平和復和信念為中心的政治社群。

這樣的視界,給啟蒙時代以來無止盡消沈且被世俗觀念侵蝕的公共神學,帶來了全新的正統動量,且能夠與世道有別卻不陌生隔離。

Related Articles:

Publicités

[文摘] Recent Genetic Science and Christian Theology on Human Origins: An “Aesthetic Supralapsarianism »

Source Link: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2010/PSCF9-10Schneider.pdf

John R. Schneider, ‘Recent Genetic Science and Christian Theology on Human Origins: An “Aesthetic Supralapsarianism »‘, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith; Volume 62, Number 3, September 2010, 196-212

Abstract:

Recent genomic science strongly supports the theory of common ancestry. To classical Protestants, particularly, this theory seems incompatible with Scripture, most especially with the “historical Fall,” which Protestants presume to be manifestly biblical and so have cemented it securely into their confessions and theology as a whole. Nevertheless, John Schneider proposes that it is important for traditional Protestants to consider alternatives to this essentially “Augustinian” view. He invites readers to examine Eastern thinking (mainly in Irenaeus of Lyon) together with a minority of Protestants (such as Karl Barth and supralapsarian Calvinists), for whom the Incarnation and Atonement are the purpose of creation from the beginning. Their understanding differs from the execution of divine “Plan B,” as implied by the Augustinian western version of an unintended “fall” from utopian first conditions. Schneider appeals to a fresh reading of the book of Job in support of an “aesthetic supralapsarianism,” which sustains Protestant virtues of biblical authority, divine sovereignty, and grace, while opening avenues to compatibility with evolutionary science.

—————-

About the author:

John Schneider

  • MA in theology, Fuller Theological Seminary
  • DD (Doctor of Divinity), University of Cambridge
  • Taught Christian theology at Westmont College (1981–1985)
  • Has taught theology at Calvin College (1986-)

—————

Summary and Critique

Basically, this author explores two views in the Bible (mainly OT) that account for the suffering, evil and imperfection in this world. From the dominant interpretation of Genesis 1-3, which John Schneider accredits to the Augustinian tradition, God created a perfectly harmonious world without suffering and death, and evil becomes a problem only after the Fall (Adam’s sin).

However, Schneider finds this view unconvincing on both moral and scientific grounds.

The evolutionary theory held by many today tend to believe that the first human beings are earth should be numbered at least 20,000, rather than 1 or 2. (This I explained in [文摘] 《聖經》創世記載的觀念整合與科學詮釋). On top of this, the first human beings should be extremely like animals in the sense of their moral capability, biological impulses, adaptation to the nature, and rationality.

So now, is God morally justified by leaving the first human beings- as moral novice- to confront the most cunning and shrewd species of HIS CREATION, namely, the serpent, and then blame them at their moral failure?

Not only is God’s world NOT so benign and innocent to begin with (besides cunning serpent, there were man-eating animals we suppose), but God also

inexplicably wanders off, purposely leaving moral novices alone in Eden with a master con artist who was out to wreck them and everything else God cared about, and then God wanders back only to seem shocked at what they had done, giving a good scolding, cursing the earth, taking away the serpents’ larynx and legs, and eventually wringing his hands in regret that he had made humans, and (literally) drowning his sorrows by washing most of them away. (204-205)

The solution, for the author, is to abandon this Augustinian dichotomy of perfection (creation) and imperfection (fall). It also means the abandonment of a historical fall (only to be substituted by an existential fall).

I am quite surprised that a Calvin College professor could venture so far away from the conventional interpretation to the rejection of the Historical Fall. Even though the proposal seems progressive and positive change to me, I still beg to disagree going so radical. In [文摘] 《聖經》創世記載的觀念整合與科學詮釋 I have mentioned that Adam could have well been a specially elect human being, to possess God’s living spirit and entitled as God’s Son, to be distinguished by his rationality and moral capability from all his contemporary homo sapiens. This preserves the historical Fall and also accounts for Cain’s « weird concern » and life style outside the Eden (Genesis 4) as well as the multiple-location/number anthropological theory of human origins.

But at any rate, for Karl Barth, Genesis 1-11 is saga and is beyond historical/scientific investigations. Its narrative function all points to the existential. This is why even though Barth holds on to the historical Fall, it is historical only as far as it is historic. To explain this point in Barth’s other words: there was no golden age of human perfection (determined by the pre-Fall Adam); human being is created to be followed by sin. That is to say, as soon as he faces his first moral encounter that is by « existential » and « personal » (Ricoeurian narrative) definition determines him as a human being, he falls.

This will be my critique against Schneider. When he draws from the well of Irenaeus and Barth, he paints too lightly the thick connection between Barth and Augustine.

But then, Schneider offers to good food for thought in the latter part of the paper where he explores God’s revelation to Job in his plight.

In Job 38-42, we find out that God is not opposed to the causes of the evil and chaos of the world. Rather, God initiates them while remaining above them.

One of Martin Luther’s biggest theological struggles is to comprehend God as the causes of everything, good and bad. Job, for a large part, also faces the struggle and eventually comes to terms with such a God through personal encounter.

Evidently, God uses Leviathan, Behemoth, vultures, violent whirlwind, and thunder to manifest His “omni-causality” over even the chaotic aspects of life and nature (in ancient Near Eastern world, these elements were first associated with Baal and other pagan gods); even Satan is His servant to achieve the ultimate goodness that only He Himself defines and knows.

One major flaw which Schneider perceives in the Augustinian theological framework is the dichotomous worldview of God and the Devil/human, of heaven and earth/hell. We need to free our concept of God from these false dichotomies in order to experience this God as big as He really is (Job 42:5).

The author says,

In my view, this is what Job “sees,” and this is what causes him to withdraw his question and to repent in “dust and ashes.” Job does not get (nor do we get) an explanation for why God has done these unfair things to him. He also gets no explanation as to how God might put these evils right, “defeat” them, as it were, by integrating them in all their disorder and ugliness into a perfectly ordered and beautiful plan (although this eventual victory of God is still embedded in the tradition the poet shapes).

What Job does “see” is that God is in complete command and mastery—he sees in a “second-person” sense what cannot be explained to him in “third-person” terms, apparently. He is able to see now with his own eyes (as it were) that God has “rightfully,” or “justly,” and not immorally or amorally, decided to make and to shape the world (and in microcosm, his own life) in this unexpected, undeserved, and painful way, including inexplicably great violence, disorder, suffering, and injustice. He sees in this nondidactic way that God is the sort of Being who knows exactly what he is doing and why, and that despite appearances, God is completely in control of the otherwise uncontrollable, chaotic situation. (207)

Behind the evil plan carried out by the Devil’s hand, loh and behold, it is indeed God’s hand.

What then, about the so-called « aesthetic supralapsarianism »? (The term coined by Schneider is confusing, for his inarticulate use of ‘aesthetic’ seems to betray his not-so-well-founded metaphysics.)

It is basically just Barth and postliberal Barthians have reiterated and articulated so well for so long time (but certainly I think we postliberals have the more articulated version):

Tthe word « supralapsarianism » is all about God’s plan to save before human beings have done wrong, for human being’s fall and the creation’s curse were not something unexpected to God upon the creation.

God has created the universe as a challenging playground to His sons and daughters to experience their own lives and grow in it (Rom 1:20-21). But God’s providential care is also constantly at hand so the challenge will not be too overwhelming (1 Cor 10:13). Ultimately, God has a salvation plan that stands both in continuity and discontinuity to His original creation of Adam. This is through Jesus Christ, who manifests the True humanity, and through whose name and power exclusively human beings will find the path to the eschaton, the ending goal of the universe where all things will be perfected and be united with God.

The history of the universe is not to go back to the alpha point like we are to revert to the status of just-born babies. Just like in the book of Job, the story neither stops at Job’s speechless silence (he was silenced because he was without speech!) and inner peace, nor is the ending a simple restoration of Job to his beginning status. Rather, blessed with blessings of double measure, bearing both his traumatic past and his new-found strength in the faith, Job reaches his ripe age on earth and actualizes his human potentiality (Job 42:10-17).

Job 42:17 And so Job died, old and full of days.

The Christological/Trinitarian significance of the Jonathan-David union

The Old Testament historical narrative is saturated with analogies and prototypes that shed light to and find their fulfillment only in the Christ event. I am not talking about explicit messianic prophesies, I am talking about narratives in the whole Hebrew Scripture.

If you cannot see this, then either your Christian faith is not « original » (historical and Jewish) enough, or your reading of the Old Testament has not been guided by the Christological lens.

One major theme in the book of First Samuel is the friendship and union between Jonathan, the prince of Israel by Saul’s line, and David, the messianic king anointed by God.

Jonathan loves David as himself, as if they were one. But the king wants to kill David.

David the son of man thus becomes a reprobate. We all know in Barth’s dialectical theology Christ is the only reprobate away from God (in order to bring the world in covenantal relationship with God). It is right to say that God has a reason to kill Jesus Christ.

But then there is Jonathan, the son of king who was with the king. He has all the intention to save David’s life.

David’s exile begins on the New Moon Festival when David was « supposed to sit down and eat with the king » (1 Sam 20:5). David asks Jonathan to let him depart under the pretext (for Saul only) that he has to make the annual sacrifice in his hometown Bethlehem, but in fact he is going to hide in the fields for three days until the third night.

Because the wrath of the King falls upon the Son of  Man, Christ descended to the Hades to make sacrifice for the world, when he was supposed to have a feast together with the King as the anointed One.

Jonathan helps David to flee away. In the fields specifically, there is a rock named Ezel (in Hebrew it means departure, alienation, estrangement, separation; in Turkish this words means ‘eternity‘) behind which David is about to hide until the third days.

The signal Jonathan is to give David consists of shooting three arrows toward/beside the rock and sending a young sidekick to get it back. If his command to the young man is ‘get the arrows on this side of you’, then David is safe to return to the palace for this means the wrath of the king is appeased. But if otherwise, Jonathan is to shout to the young man ‘look, the arrows are far beyond you’, then it is a hint for David to get away right now.

To me, it is very interesting how the person of Jonathan could function as an analogical reference to the Christ event. On the one hand, he is a mediating role between Saul (the King/God) and David (the reprobate/Son of Man).

King Saul really becomes angry when he probes into Jonathan’s intention to save David’s life. He says, « everyday Jesse’s son lives on earth you and your kingship are not secure » (1 Sam 20:30).

This makes it also impossible and meaningless to compare Jonathan with the person of the Holy Spirit. He could only be the King’s Son, who is the eternal Logos, who was with God but came to a mysterious unity with the man Jesus the Messiah.

If we persists in having this analogy in mind as we read the monarchical narrative, we will find out that how Jonathan hollows himself for David is comparable to how the divine Logos empties itself (divine kenosis) for the man Jesus Christ. This is how the covenantal union between the two gets acutalized.

The potential kingship of Jonathan the prince is eventual nullified in order to create space for the hallowing ascension of the anointed Davidic King. The Son of Man ‘becomes’ God on the « third day » and reigns in the Logo’s stead on the « last day ».

This original account (of mine) leaves us two further theo-ontological questions to consider:

  1. Against Barth who thinks « there is no hidden God in abstraction from the revealed God », an ontological ‘randomness’ seems to factored in according to Jonathan’s word in the departure theme. Jonathan is uncertain about his fathers will, as if he could have been either forgiving to David or getting angry at Jonathan’s union with David (and David’s alleged participation in the atoning sacrifice at his birthplace). In my view, this suggests that the both Father’ will and knowledge remain distinct and free from His Son’s will and knowledge. David could have saved the trip (of exile), but then his ascension to kingship would have to be otherwise and the redemption of Israel would be at stake. There is a [logical] hierarchy in the correspondence of personal wills: the King’s, then Jonathan’s and David’s. However, no single person has the total control.
  2. The Logos diminishes (as he gives himself fully to the Man), and the Man increases (as he fuses and receives fully the Logos). In postliberal actualistic ontology, this dialectical event has to be understood as taking place in eternity rather than in temporality. However, man (specifically, the human Jesus) exists only in temporality, while the Logos can be present in both realms. The way actualistic ontology solves this issue is to create a corresponding form of humanity in eternity as the « humanity in anticipation of its historical actualization », which I consider correct and helpful. But if there is any thing analogical to Christology in the fact that Jonathan is still with the King/his father when David is hiding/separated from them and in exile, then it is extra calvinisticum we will get. Extra calvinisticum is horrendous to both Lutherans and many postliberals, because it teaches that the Logos was also outside (literal meaning of the Latin extra) or beyond the physical body of Christ.

    It is hard for me to say, but it seems traditional Calvinistic Christology is more consistent with the biblical narrative.

 

Anyhow, if you can ponder through at least for a moment how the very being and event of God’s own life is conveyed through the revelation of profound analogy and rich narratives to which we are capable to infer, you cannot help conclude that the gay interpretation of the Jonathan-David union is totally misguided and away from the point.

 

 

[Book Review] The Cambridge Companion to Karl Barth

 

 

edition price bookseller updated
The Cambridge Companion to Karl Barth Paperback
published by Cambridge University Press (2000)

0521585600 • 9780521585606
Paperback, 332 pages
Published October 5th 2000 by Cambridge University Press

To me, this book is quite an achievement and enjoyable to read.

But beginners (and non-professionals) may need some professional guidance to grapple with its advanced content.

For, on the one hand, it assumes basic acquaintanceship with Barth’s work per se and some formal training in the field of systematic theology.
And on the other, the contributors, though all sympathetic to Barth, hold some different perspectives in their approaches.

Painting with a broad stroke, there are four major voices in this book: postliberal, radical orthodox, neo-reformed, and the German tradition.

Personally, I am happy to see that Webster (the most influential Barth scholar in UK) drawing together these Barth interpreters from diverging school of thoughts. But you probably won’t be able to tell and slide through their differences and synthesize their views.)

I recommend ch.1, 10, 14, 15, 18 of this book for beginners that have not completed any single volume of CD themselves. They are accessible and written in good styles.

As for ch.2-9, 11-3, which each takes an aspect of Barth doctrine of theological prolegomena, revelation, Scripture, Trinity, Election, Creation, Christology, Soteriology, Pneumatology, liturgy, and ethics, you will need to be able to contrast Barth against the backdrop of the traditional (evangelical) and liberal understanding of these topics in order to appreciate what Barth is doing. The contributors here do not necessarily help you do this. This is not a problem to me, and some chapters really helped me to set Barth’s CD in order.
But it should be said that the section in this companion is not for any novice who wants to read Barth as their first and primary tutor about how to talk about God systematically.

Apparently, the most seminal and controversial piece in this companion is ch.6 ‘Grace and Being’ by Bruce McCormack, which sparkled a fierce debate over a decade since its publication (on the theological ontology of God’s immanence, aseity, and election).
His chapter is not only important but also very inspirational to read, especially for what is now known as ‘actualistic ontology’ in not just theological but philosophical circles as well.

Personally, I found ch.17 ‘Barth, modernity, postmodernity’ by Graham Ward a very wise inclusion in this companion. For up until now, the solution and inspiration Barth offers for overcoming the epistemological and ethical plight in the secular world are underappreciated by theologians unfamiliar with the larger picture of contemporary critical thinking.
And this is one of the reasons why conservative theology has lost its mic to speak publicly while liberal theology has lost its vowels to speak loudly.

Graham Ward is one among those (along with Stanley Hauerwas, Joseph Magina, Paul Dafydd Jones, Steven Long, Nicholas Adams) who are insightful and capable of bringing out the bearings of Barth’s theology unto this world which has never thought they want or need to think about theology.

In my opinion, these two chapters are for the more ‘advanced’, and they are also the most rewarding chapters to read.
All in all, this book is highly recommended.

[書摘] Karl Barth on the Atonement as penal substitution

Although Barth insists (against Albrecht Ritschl and his followers) that God shows anger against sin and that God’s wrath is something very real and must be reckoned with, Barth denies that this wrath of God is turned away by the reconciliation of Christ . You must wonder why. The reason is that this binds God into an abstract law of necessity and reduces the act of God into a drama between the divine Persons.

Even though Jesus Christ is our Substitute who stands in our place and bears the full penalty of our sin, Barth is hesitant to call this a real punishment (with reference to Isa 53). He states:

But we must not make this [the concept of punishment] a main concept as in some of the older presentations of the doctrine of the atonement (especially those which follow Anselm of Canterbury), either in the sense that by His [Christ’s] suffering our punishment we are spared from suffering it ourselves, or that in so doing He “satisfied” or offered satisfaction to the wrath of God. The latter thought is quite foreign to the New Testament.(CD IV/1:253)

For Barth the concept of satisfaction is « quite foreign” to the New Testament. Though the concept needs not be completely rejected, for him « satisfaction » can only mean that

which suffices for the reconciliation of the world with God has been made (satis fecit) and can be grasped only as something which has in fact happened, and not as something which had to happen by reason of some upper half of the event; not, then, in any theory of satisfaction, but only as we see and grasp the satis-facere which has, in fact, been achieved. (CD IV/1:276)

Barth is adamant that we cannot force what has divinely taken place into a preconceived abstract concept (whether it means ‘legal justice’, ’emotional satisfaction’, or whatever); rather, we can only begin to understand the meaning of God’s act by grappling with the Christ event itself.

For Barth « substitution » has already taken place in the man Jesus Christ before the creation of humanity (supralapsarianism). In his view God’s wrath never precedes man’s confrontation with the gospel, and Christ’s death has not been made necessary by historical sin.

Then if this concept of punishment was to be retained (as it should), it must be bestowed an ‘idealistic sense’ according to which the God-man Jesus took humanity’s place from eternity as an “eternal reprobate from God”.

However, to avoid the feminist’s charge against substitutionary atonement as a ‘monstrous child abuse’, our theological construction must be deep down Trinitarian lest we ‘individualize’ the Father and the Son as if the superior one was abusing the inferior person’s will.

In response to this, Bruce McCormack has Barth’s Trinitarian view on the atonement excellently put:

The problem is that death, however it is conceived, is a human experience. How then could the death of Jesus Christ be an event between God and God, between, that is, an eternal father and an eternal Son who is understood along the lines of a Logos simpliciter [that is, the Divine Logos apart from his identity as the human-incarnated Jesus]? So the logic of penal substitution is not that the Father does something to his « eternal Son » (as the charge of « cosmic » child abuse would suggest). An action of the eternal Father upon the eternal Son (seen in abstraction from the assumed humanity) would require a degree of individuation between the two such that the « separation » needed for an action of the one upon the other becomes unthinkable.


This is a human experience of the Logos. Therefore, it is an event between the eternal Father and the Logos as human. The « object » of the action is, therefore, the Logos as human. What happens in the outpouring of the wrath of God by the Father upon Jesus Christ is that the human experience of the « penalty of death » that humans have merited through their sinfulness is taken into the very life of God himself.

But then we still have to consider the logic of the « subject. » The subject who delivers Jesus Christ up to death is not the Father alone. For the Trinitarian axiom opera trinitas ad extra sunt indivisa means that if one does it [economically], they all do it. So it is the triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) who gives himself over to this experience. And that also means, then, that the Father is not doing something to someone other than himself. The triune God pours his wrath out upon himself in and through the human nature that he has made his own in his second mode of his being — that is the ontological significance of penal substitution. The triune God takes this human experience into his own life; he « drinks it to the dregs. » And in doing so, he vanquishes its power over us. That, I would submit, is the meaning of penal substitution when seen against the background of a well-ordered Christology and a well-ordered doctrine of the Trinity. [all emphasis mine]

—Bruce L. McCormack, ‘The Ontological Presuppositions of Barth’s Doctrine of the Atonement’ in The Glory of the Atonement: Biblical, Theological & Practical Perspectives, Charles E. Hill and Frank A. James III eds. (Intervarsity: MI, 2004), 366