"Nature itself becomes the theatre of grace"
"Neither the work of the Son nor that of the Holy Spirit is understandable if we fail to recognize the miraculous element which accompanies these events, or if we try to conjure away the miracle as such. Again this does not mean that God ceases to be true to Himself, the Creator and Lord of this world. But how can the divine work take place, in which God causes His preserving grace to triumph over man's opposition, without a perception by man of the divine opposition as such? How can grace meet him as grace if it simply decks itself out as nature, if nature as such is grace? Grace is the secret behind nature, the hidden meaning of nature. When grace is revealed, nature does not cease to exist. How can it, when God does not cease to be its Creator? But there is in nature more than nature. Nature itself becomes the theatre of grace, and grace is manifested as lordship over nature, and therefore in freedom over against it. And again God is not less but more glorious for us in miracle than elsewhere. Again miracle is simply the revelation of the divine glory otherwise hidden from us, on the strength of which we can believe and honour Him elsewhere as Creator and Lord. Miracle must not be reduced to the level of God's other and general being and action in the world. Its miraculous nature must not be denied. It must be maintained -- even for the sake of the general truth. For it is miracle alone which opens for us the door to the secret that the Creator's saving opposition to us does not confront us only at individual points and moments, but throughout the whole range of our spatio-temporal existence." CD II.1, p. 509 (section 31.2)Sittler, anyone? I ran across this reference in Matt Rose, Ethics with Barth, and was immediately reminded of another theologian of my acquaintance who says that nature is the theater of grace. Rose's footnote isn't right on the standard page numbering, but Google Books is excellent for tracking down citations that aren't where you've been told they were.
Both Joseph Sittler and Karl Barth before him are using this phrase to answer the question of the relationship between nature and grace -- I need to dig into Essays on Nature and Grace and look for congruencies of thought here. This phrase becomes a key article of Sittler's thought. The phrase isn't new, by any means, but it's not exactly common, either. The thought lines up with Aquinas' treatment of nature and grace, as well. But it struck me to see this phrase in Barth's "hand" as an answer to the problem.
(That's all -- nothing more, for now.)