Not one, just he: Barth on the universal promeity of the gospel

"It happened that in the humble obedience of the Son He took our place, He took to Himself our sins and death in order to make an end of them in His death, and that in so doing He did the right, He became the new and righteous man. It also happened that in His resurrection from the dead He was confirmed and recognized and revealed by God the Father as the One who has done and been that for us and all men. As the One who has done that, in whom God Himself has done that, who lives as the doer of that deed, He is our man, we are in Him, our present is His, the history of man is His history, He is the concrete event of the existence and reality of justified man in whom every man can recognize himself and every other man—recognize himself as truly justified. There is not one for whose sin and death He did not die, whose sin and death He did not remove and obliterate on the cross, for whom He did not positively do the right, whose right He has not established. There is not one to whom this was not addressed as his justification in His resurrection from the dead. There is not one whose man He is not, who is not justified in Him. There is not one who is justified in any other way than in Him—because it is in Him and only in Him that an end, a bonfire, is made of man’s sin and death, because it is in Him and only in Him that man’s sin and death are the old thing which has passed away, because it is in Him and only in Him that the right has been done which is demanded of man, that the right has been established to which man can move forward. Again, there is not one who is not adequately and perfectly and finally justified in Him. There is not one whose sin is not forgiven sin in Him, whose death is not a death which has been put to death in Him. There is not one whose right has not been established and confirmed validly and once and for all in Him. There is not one, therefore, who has first to win and appropriate this right for himself. There is not one who has first to go or still to go in his own virtue and strength this way from there to here, from yesterday to to-morrow, from darkness to light, who has first to accomplish or still to accomplish his own justification, repeating it when it has already taken place in Him. There is not one whose past and future and therefore whose present He does not undertake and guarantee, having long since accepted full responsibility and liability for it, bearing it every hour and into eternity. There is not one whose peace with God has not been made and does not continue in Him. There is not one of whom it is demanded that he should make and maintain this peace for himself, or who is permitted to act as though he himself were the author of it, having to make it himself and to maintain it in his own strength. There is not one for whom He has not done everything in His death and received everything in His resurrection from the dead.

"Not one. That is what faith believes. . . .

"When a man can and must believe, it is not merely a matter of an 'also,' of his attachment as an individual to the general being and activity of the race and the community as determined by Jesus Christ. In all the common life of that outer and inner circle he is still himself. He is uniquely this man and no other. He cannot be repeated or represented. He is incomparable. He is this in his relationship with God and also in his relationship with his fellows. He is this soul of this body, existing in the span of this time of his. He is this sinful man with his own particular pride and in his own special case. For all his common life he is alone in this particularity. It is not simply that he also can and must believe, but that just he can and must believe. And if the being and activity of Jesus Christ Himself is the mystery of the event in which he actually does so, then we must put it even more strongly and precisely: that in this event it takes place that Jesus Christ lives not only 'also' but 'just' as his Mediator and Savior and Lord, and that He shows Himself just to him as this living One. He became a servant just for him. It was just his place that He took, the place which is not the place of any other. In this place He died just for him, for his sin. And, again, in his place He was raised again from the dead. Therefore the Yes which God the Father spoke to Him as His Son in the resurrection is spoken not only also but just to him, this man. In Him it was just his pride, his fall which was overcome. In Him it is just his new right which has been set up, his new life which has appeared. And in Him it is just he who is called to new responsibility, who is newly claimed. It is just he who is not forgotten by Him, not passed over, not allowed to fall, not set aside or abandoned. It is just he—and this is the work of the Holy Spirit—who has been sought out, and reached, and found by Him, just he whom He has associated with Himself and Himself with him. God did not will to be God without being just his God. Jesus did not will to be Jesus without being just his Jesus. The world was not to be reconciled with God without just this man as an isolated individual being a man—this man—reconciled with God. The community was not to be the living body of Christ without just this man being a living member of it. The whole occurrence of salvation was not to take place but just for him, as the judgment executed just on him, the grace addressed in this judgment just to him, just his justification, just his conversion to God. The gift and commission of the community of Jesus Christ is personally just his gift and commission. And all this not merely incidentally, among other things, or only in part for him, but altogether, in its whole length and breadth and height and depth just for him, because Jesus Christ, in whom all this is given to the world and the community, in whom God Himself has sacrificed Himself for it, is Jesus, the Christ, just for him. That this shines out in a sinful man is the mystery, the creative fact, in the event of faith in which he becomes and is a Christian, so that he can and must acknowledge and recognize and confess as such what is proper to him as this subject.

"What do I acknowledge and recognize and confess as this subject? That Jesus Christ Himself is pro me, just for me."

—Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV/1: The Doctrine of Reconciliation, 629–630, 754–755


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