-Wir sein pettler. Hoc est verum.--"We are beggars. This is true."--Martin Luther-

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Christ, the Mediator of Creation

Gerhard Ebeling writes:

"We have now so to speak two high tension fields: the regnum mundi itself, of which we have said that it is a self-contradiction, and the relationship between regnum mundi and regnum Christi, which we have seen to be a twofold relation and as such to be grounded in the self-contradiction of the regnum mundi. But what is the nature of this grounding link between the two fields of tension? One would expect a simple equation in the sense of the two relations of contradiction and agreement between the two kingdoms being related to the two sides of the self-contradiction in the regnum mundi. That is how it is, too, if the self-contradiction of the regnum mundi is rightly grasped, viz. as a contradiction between the creatureliness of the world and the autocratic behaviour of a world that denies its being created. What we are designating as the self-contradiction of the creature, is thus primarily contradiction between creature and Creator. The creature which denies the Creator, thereby denies itself, although-- indeed precisely because-- it is concerned to assert itself against God. The structure of self-contradiction, it is true, seems to belong to the regnum mundi on its own, without regard to its relation to God, yet it is altogether only in view of the relation to God that it can be grasped as self-contradiction. The designation of self-contradiction thus includes the assertion that the relation to God is not something which is tacked on to the reality of the world, but is the very thing which is truly the reality of the world. If, however, the regnum Christi is nothing else but the coming of the regnum Dei, then the relation of disagreement between the regnum mundi and regnum Christi is in the end the outbreak of the contradiction between the fallen creature and the Creator. And the relation of agreement between the regnum mundi and regnum Christi is the dawning of agreement between creature and Creator." "The Necessity of the Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms" in Word and Faith, trans. James W. Leitch, 386-406 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1963), 398-399.

Though a little convoluted, what this means is that the self-contradiction of the world when related to God is a relation of disagreement in that it is in open rebellion against him. But in Christ there is a relation of agreement in that Christ reconciles the world to himself; Christ is "the dawning of agreement between creature and Creator." This talk takes on a creation-wide scope and a scope that encompasses all of history.

This is really the way that scripture talks of the work of Christ. We see in the protoevangelion in Genesis 3 the history that God had planned for mankind. It is a history that is based on the promise of reconciliation, and this only through Christ. Ours is a Heilsgeschichte, a salvation history.

Man has taken this history and made it his realm of self-justification. This, not necessarily before God, but maybe more primarily before the world. It is the task of answering: "Why am I here?" Ebeling tells us that without Christ this is both a self-contradiction-- the creation who denies its being created-- and a contradiction of God through open rebellion.

Therefore, in Christ is wrapped up the whole of creation and all of history. The world and history do not exist in order for us to find our identity in ourselves but to find our identity in Christ. This Christological and Christo-centric view of the world and history is evident throughout the gospel of John and his epistles and Revelation.We have the extremely revealing and graphic opening: "In the beginning was the Word." John tells us that Christ was there at creation, that all things were created through him, and that in him was life (v. 3-4). Having life "in him" is not merely some metaphysical abstraction, but is truly the basis of our life; Christ is the basis of our life.

Therefore Christ is not merely the mediator of our vertical relationship with the Father, but also of our horizontal relationship to the world. It is only through the eyes of Christ that we can see the world properly. Through Christ, the world and history are no longer the realm of self-creation but the realm of reciprocal love, love that finds its basis in and flows out of Christ. We see this new perspective of creation in 2 Corinthians:

"For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself ." (5:14-18)

Paul explicitly tells us that because of the love expressed through Christ we no longer live for ourselves but for Christ. Because of this we do not see creation (world and history) according to the flesh but through the eyes of Christ. This is why Paul can call us a new creation, our entire lives have found a new basis. As Ebeling puts it, it is "the dawning of agreement between creature and Creator."

Oswald Bayer writes: "The work of Jesus Christ is to restore creation, to validate again its original purpose, the will of God in creation...In this, Jesus Christ is the 'mediator of creation,' through whom all that now is was made." Living By Faith, 62.

Luther tells us that we are now "in the dawn of the life to come, for we have begun to recapture our knowledge of the creatures that we lost with Adam's fall. We can see creatures properly now...Beginning with the grace of God, however, we can know God's wonderful works and miracles even from the little flowers, when we consider the divine omnipotence and the divine goodness. We thus laud and praise and thank God. For we see in his creatures the power of his Word, how mighty it is. He spoke and it came to be." WA TR 1:574, 8-19

The Apology likewise writes: "But Christ was given for this very purpose: that on account of him the forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit, who produces in us a new and eternal life and also eternal righteousness, may be given to us." Kolb/Wengert Art. 4, Par. 132

It is quite amazing but the reception of faith in Christ is the culmination of the very purposes of time and creation, it is the dawning of a new age, "the dawn of the life to come."

All questions of identity are therefore inextricably linked to the regnum Christi, whether through a relation of disagreement through the self-contradiction of the regnum mundi, or through a relation of agreement through the reconciliation found through faith in Christ.

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