Advent with Barth: The New Beginning

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

But how far is it the ex virgine (of the virgin) that points to this penetration and new beginning?

Virgin birth means birth without previous sexual union between man and woman.

Speaking generally, it is what it lacks that distinguishes the birth of Christ, that marks it as the mystery of God, the penetration and new beginning within humanity.

But what is it in this lack that acts as a sign?

Here we cannot consider the quite un-biblical view that sexual life is to be regarded as an evil to be removed, so that the active sign is to be sought in the fact that this removal is here presumed to have taken place.

But if, to be precise, we add that it is not to be excluded here as the origin of the human existence of Jesus Christ, we still do not give a valid account of the ex virgine.

It is not because of the sin actually involved in all sexual life that man is altogether a sinner who continually lives in disobedience by living it out.

He is altogether a sinner from birth, who all through his life lives out the disobedience in which his life is already involved.

And so all sexual life is involved in sin as well, and is itself sin.

Thus the exclusion of this sinful sexual life does not mean the exclusion of sin in the sense of peccatum originale (original sin), and so this exclusion is still as unsuitable as ever to be the sign of the penetration and new beginning in the existence of Jesus Christ, to be the sign of His sinlessness.

from Karl Barth, “The Miracle of Christmas”, Church Dogmatics I.2, page 189-190.

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