1. Covenant – Israel and the Church
To talk about the human future requires that we talk about covenant.
The covenant of God with man comes in the form of one specific covenant, Abraham and his seed forever. Israel is the covenanted community, while the Church participates in this covenant in Christ. These two communities we may acknowledge the covenant of God with man. Each is, I dare to say, for the sake of those outside Israel and outside the Church, so each has to confess that they are elect as witnesses of the covenant of God with man. This distinctive task given to them – foisted on them even – for the sake of the world. The covenant of God with man is knowable only in this way as this covenant with this specific people, and thus not immediately with all but with these specific people.
Each of these communities therefore is required to understand itself as loved, for its own sake, and also as chosen for the purpose of witness to what it does not yet possess. The Church tells usthat man is a covenantal being, that God is with man, and enabled by God, man may be with his fellow man. In this fellowship he is a relational being and so is a distinct individual. Neither individuality nor relationality precedes the other. Man is not fundamentally an isolated being, and not an atom. Each of us is simultaneously one and because we are in various covenants with others, more than one. Each human is fundamental, but some human covenants are subordinate to others. All love and community involve mutual service and subordination that necessarily involves a certain asymmetry. Those outside a particular covenant are not given to one another in the same way as those within that covenant.