Thursday, August 5, 2010

Redeeming the time

In his Doctrine of Creation, Karl Barth has an interesting discussion of the significance of time in creation. As is often the case, he has a Christological interpretation. Here is an excerpt:
In the death of Jesus Christ the old has passed, but only in such a way that He Himself and His death and the whole witness of the Old Testament concerning Himself and His death are not just past but are still present and future. And in the resurrection of the same Jesus Christ something new has appeared, but in such a way that He Himself and His resurrection and the whole witness of the New Testament concerning Himself as the Resurrected are not only future but are also present and past.
He does not extinguish time; He is "the first and the last and (so) he that liveth" ( Rev. 117). He normalises time. He heals its wounds. He fulfils and makes it real. And so He returns it to us in order that we might have it again as "our time," the time of the grace addressed to us, even when we had lost it as "our" time, the time of the sin committed by us. He thus invites us in faith in Him to become contemporaries of genuine time, so that in Him and by Him we, too, have real time. Really to have time is to live in Him and with Him, in virtue of His death and resurrection in the present which is the turning point in which the sin and servitude and condemnation and death of man (and with it also "our" lost time) lie behind us as the past...

Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics 3.1 Doctrine of Creation, p. 74
Such a perspective should affect how we read the "days" in Genesis and the "thousand years" in Revelation. Real time (i.e. the time of greatest significance) is not defined by atomic clocks, fashion fads, or the passing of governments, but rather by the Resurrection and Return of Jesus.

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