Barth on the Future Resurrection

This beautiful quote on our future resurrection as a sharing in God’s eternal life comes from late in the Church Dogmatics:

Since, then, God alone can be its future, the life of a creature after death cannot in any sense or circumstances be anything other than its life from God and for God, i.e., the life which is not its own but is given to it by God. God alone is above death and after it. He alone has immortality (I Tim. 616). If a creature is to have immortal life, i.e., the life which defies and overcomes death, which leaves it behind, which is no longer threatened by it, then in no circumstances can this be simply its autonomous continuation in life. It can be only its new life from God and with God. It can be only the eternal life which is given to it by God after the manner of His own life. Its corruptible and mortal, therefore, must as such, as that which it was between birth and death, put on the incorruptibility and immortality which are proper only to God (I Cor. 1553). Its present form is not, then, dissolved or done away with or destroyed, which would mean death, or a future without God. It is taken up into the new form which is not proper to it in its creatureliness but is given to it as that of God its Creator. The past state upon which it enters with death, and which is manifest in death, is thus taken from it by the fact that God, who was its only but true future even in its corruptibility before death and its corruption in death, is present to it in death itself. As what it was before death, it may thus be present and live eternally even after death in the power of His presence, i.e., not of itself, but in the power of the presence of God. (CD IV/3, 310-11)

In this sense, the question of the ‘mortality’ or ‘immortality’ of Adam before the fall, or of Christ’s humanity, is an abstract and meaningless question. We live only as we receive life from God, only as he upholds the universe by the Word of his power (Heb 1:3). God is the life of the creature, its “only but true future even in its corruptibility before death”. It is only as we given life and breath and everything else from God himself that we continue to live, and only ultimately as we are transformed and brought to share in God’s own life that we will one day, after the resurrection, have life forever. This resurrection life will be a “new life from God and with God. It can be only the eternal life which is given to it by God after the manner of his own life.”

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