On the ground of what Christ has done for us and in accordance with his promise, we are presented before God as subjects of his saving activity, and are initiated into a mutual relation between the act of the Spirit and the response of faith. Faith arises as the gift of the Spirit, while it is through faith that we may continue to receive the Spirit, and it is in the Spirit that God continues to act creatively upon us, uniting us to Christ so that his atoning reconciliation bears fruit in us, and lifting us up to share in the very life and love of God, in the communion of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Baptism is thus not a sacrament of what we do but of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, in whom he has bound himself to us and bound us to himself, before ever we could respond to him. But it is also the sacrament of what God now does in us by his Spirit, uniting us with Christ in his faithfulness and obedience to the Father and making that the ground of our faith. As an act done to us, baptism tells us that it is not upon our act of faith or on our own faithfulness that we rely, but upon Christ alone and his vicarious faithfulness; it also tells us that in the freedom of his Spirit God makes himself present to us and binds us creatively to himself in such marvelous ways that not only is faith called forth from us as our own spontaneous response to the grace of God in Christ, but it is undergirded and supported by Christ and enclosed with his own faithfulness, and thus grounded in the mutual relation between the incarnate Son and the heavenly Father.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
T. F. Torrance on Baptism
The following is the "payoff paragraph" of TFT's essay entitled "The One Baptism Common to Christ and His Church," which can be found in Theology in Reconciliation. If I were granted one wish that I could spend on things of an academic nature, I would use it to find out how Barth would respond this this paragraph. I guess I'll ask once I get to the next life.