Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Covenant precedes creation

Much of my own research and writing over the past year has focused on the Barthian theme of the priority of salvation over creation. God's act in Christ "precedes" the creation of the world, and is its foundation. Just this morning, I came across this nice passage:

The history of salvation is not a small event, on a poor planet, in the immensity of the universe. It is not a minimal thing which happens by chance on a lost planet. It is the motive for everything, the motive for creation. Everything is created so that this story can exist – the encounter between God and his creature. In this sense, salvation history, the covenant, precedes creation. During the Hellenistic period, Judaism developed the idea that the Torah would have preceded the creation of the material world. This material world seems to have been created solely to make room for the Torah, for this Word of God that creates the answer and becomes the history of love. The mystery of Christ already is mysteriously revealed here.... One can say that, while material creation is the condition for the history of salvation, the history of the covenant is the true cause of the cosmos.
No, that was not a quote from Karl Barth. It's Benedict XVI, speaking in a recent meditation on Psalm 118 – as cited in the immensely enjoyable new book by Scott W. Hahn, Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI (Brazos Press 2009), p. 23.

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