As many of you all know, the Karl Barth Conference is currently going on and it sounds like a great time. WTM has some comments posted about it and hopefully more are to come. In the meantime, for those of us unable to make it out to Princeton, here is an excerpt from the conclusion of Nate Kerr’s paper which was presented yesterday at the conference, entitled “Das Ereignis der Sendung: The Word of God, Apocalyptic Transfiguration, and the ‘Special Visibility’ of the Church”:
Thus, the way properly to consider “the church” and “the world” is not in terms of “inside” and “outside,” of “inclusive” and “exclusive,” but in terms of “in Christ” and “in itself.” We could put it this way: The church is indeed the world where the reign of God is breaking out and is made visible as such. The church is still the world, but it is the world participating in the kenotic, self-giving love of God in Christ. The world is no longer “in itself” but is now itself reconciled to God “in Christ.” A world that is curved in upon itself, that is delusively “in itself,” is “the world” in the negative Johannine sense. So, the church does not exclude the world, but is the world “in Christ.” Also, the church does not include the world, but rather the church happens as the perpetual opening of the world to the coming kingdom of God. The world “in-itself” has been overcome and is a delusionary abstraction; but precisely as such the church cannot think of itself as a reality that exists “in itself” as over-against “the world.” And this is precisely what makes the church the church: it is that community which is given to live unreservedly for and as the world reconciled to God in Christ. And precisely therein is the church obedient to the Word of God and so rendered visible in a way no given world-historical entity, including the empirical church, could ever pretend to be, in-itself.