Barth and the Death Contract

In His dying, the dying which awaits us in the near or distant future was already comprehended and completed, so that we can no longer die to ourselves (Rom. 14:2f.), in our own strength and at our own risk, but only in Him, enclosed in His death. We died: the totality of sinful men… (Barth, IV.1, 295).

Christ died our death, and in Christ, we already died. This death–Christ on the cross–is “the one existential fact” facing us. Not our death, but his death, for our death is not our own but we face it as having already been dealt with in Christ. We have already died in Christ.

In Christ–not in our faith in Christ but regardless of our faith–in Christ, our death has been taken away from us. We cannot go to it on our own; we do not face it on our own; nor can it ever be in the hands of anyone else, any other master. The resurrection ends the death contract, for we have already died and the life we now live we live in Christ. The threat of death–the first step in the negotiation of the death contract–is an attack on Christ, who already died and who was raised from the dead, and is therefore a presumptive display of a power that has already been defeated. We work neither to secure all life nor to defeat death but to worship God through our love of one another.

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