Monday, August 3, 2009

Von Balthasar, A Theology of History

Von Balthasar, Hans Urs. A Theology of History. San Francisco: Ignatius, 1994.

A Theology of History examines the relationship between time and eternity and between this particular and the universal in Christ. Following von Balthasar's argument was, in places, a bit difficult for me, but his insights usually make the work worthwhile.

I found the third chapter, "Christ the Norm of History", particularly good (or particularly to my theological taste, anyway). Von Balthasar discusses how the individual historical existence of Christ is universalized through the action of the Holy Spirit under three aspects: in the life of Christ himself, in relating Christ to the Church in every age, particularly through the sacraments, and in creating the missions of the Church and the individual as applications of the life of Christ. While the first and third of these aspects is personal and the second is sacramental, the three are interwoven, for
the personal in Christ can only confront the personal in the individual Christian in union with what appears to be impersonal, the Church and the sacraments. But at the same time everything in the sacramental order has to be embedded in the personal level, as mediation and encounter, as a gesture expressing personal intention, and hence it always communicates personal, historical graces and creates personal, historical situations.(83)

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