Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Theology from Hans Urs von Balthasar

Hans Urs von Balthasar was a great 20th century Swiss theologian. He studied under Cardinal Henri de Lubac SJ, a great theologian himself, and highly influential in shaping the 2nd Vatican Council. Although he was not invited to the council Von Balthasar has had a great influence on Pope Benedict XVI. Here is a link to his books.

The following is from Test Everything Hold Fast to What is Good. You can get a taste from this interview of his theology.

An excerpt from a 1986 interview with Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar, by Angelo Scola:

Angela Scola
: Finally, then, the central issue is the missionary task of every Christian which cannot be evaded. But how is the essence of Christianity to be communicated to contemporary men and women?

Hans Urs von Balthasar: Primarily, by confronting them uncompromisingly with the whole Gospel. With the whole Christ, rather than with a charism chosen at random. There is but one answer to the fundamental questions of humanity, and that is the Christian one. We are constantly returning to the same starting point: people need to recognize the incomparable, the unique character of the Gospel, not comparable to anything else in the rest of the world. In the universal history of humanity there does not exist—and never will exist—anything analogous to Christ, a man who, without resumption, speaks and acts with the authority of God. "You have heard it said . .. I, however, am telling you." This "I" has the 'weight of the voice of Yahweh. And it is not only a matter of speaking. The entire existence of Jesus, his working life, his preaching, his death and Resurrection; everything in him is an exegesis of God. If one attempts to carve out a "historical Jesus" apart from his totality, one loses all understanding, just as the disciples understood nothing when confronted with his Passion and Transfiguration.

Angelo Scola: You equate, then, Christ the man with the Word of God?

Hans Urs von Balthasar: There exists no Christ figure in the New Testament which could be isolated from the sacraments, from the magisterial or pastoral Office or from Tradition. There is a great danger nowadays: to dissent Christ into several small parts, single logoi as it were, and then to mediate or that singular aspect, only to lose the vision of the whole. There are certain theologians who close their eyes to the overwhelming apostolic authority of Saint Paul, claiming that he possessed no such authority in the Christian communities; and such folly commands a wide audience. They also claim that in his day their was no hierarchy, no episcopacy, as if that had been necessary, as long as Saint Paul himself was bishop of his communities, together with Titus, Timothy and others, whom one would call auxiliary bishops today. When he sends one of them to Corinth, he impresses on the congregation: "Receive him the way you receive me, with the same reverence." Saint Paul was highly aware of his authority. And for his part, he acknowledges the authority of Saint Peter.
Angelo Scola: In speaking of Christ, you have used two words which struck me: "unique phenomenon". How can we deal with this uniqueness nowadays? After all, this is no private event, for which it would be sufficient to read the Bible by oneself or even with the aid of an experienced exegete.

Hans Urs von Balthasar: You are right. Holy Scripture is not preeminently "a" book, but a witness to the word of God, which was sent forth to us in Christ. This word has been written down, so that we may have something solid to support us. It is, however, not Christ's will that we read him like a book; he himself has written nothing: "My words are spirit and life." During the lifetime of the apostles and immediately afterwards, there existed no "New Testament". The apostles proclaimed the life of Christ, and they did this with their own lives. Saint Paul is not presumptuous when he says: "Observe me, Christ lives in me; imitate Christ the way I imitate him." And further: "You have accepted the word for what it really is: not my word, but the word of Christ." The word of God cannot be simply recited, but requires the testimony of a living Christian, because the Word had become flesh; and hence one has to demonstrate with one's flesh what the word is.

Angelo Scola: But this living model should really be the Church?

Hans Urs von Balthasar: Of course. To the degree in which she realizes the fundamental intention of Jesus: to be a missionary Church

1 comment:

Anders Branderud said...

"Historical J....."!?!

The persons using that contra-historical oxymoron (demonstrated by the eminent late Oxford historian, James Parkes, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue) exposes dependancy upon 4th-century, gentile, Hellenist sources.

While scholars debate the provenance of the original accounts upon which the earliest extant (4th century, even fragments are post-135 C.E.), Roman gentile, Hellenist-redacted versions were based, there is not one fragment, not even one letter of the NT that derives DIRECTLY from the 1st-century Pharisee Jews who followed the Pharisee Ribi Yehoshua.
Historians like Parkes, et al., have demonstrated incontestably that 4th-century Roman Christianity was the 180° polar antithesis of 1st-century Judaism of ALL Pharisee Ribis. The earliest (post-135 C.E.) true Christians were viciously antinomian (ANTI-Torah), claiming to supersede and displace Torah, Judaism and ("spiritual) Israel and Jews. In soberest terms, ORIGINAL Christianity was anti-Torah from the start while DSS (viz., 4Q MMT) and ALL other Judaic documentation PROVE that ALL 1st-century Pharisees were PRO-Torah.

There is a mountain of historical Judaic information Christians have refused to deal with, at: (see, especially, their History Museum pages beginning with "30-99 C.E.").
Original Christianity = ANTI-Torah. Ribi Yehoshua and his Netzarim, like all other Pharisees, were PRO-Torah. Intractable contradiction.

Building a Roman image from Hellenist hearsay accounts, decades after the death of the 1st-century Pharisee Ribi, and after a forcible ouster, by Hellenist Roman gentiles, of his original Jewish followers (135 C.E., documented by Eusebius), based on writings of a Hellenist Jew excised as an apostate by the original Jewish followers (documented by Eusebius) is circular reasoning through gentile-Roman Hellenist lenses.

What the historical Pharisee Ribi taught is found not in the hearsay accounts of post-135 C.E. Hellenist Romans but, rather, in the Judaic descriptions of Pharisees and Pharisee Ribis of the period... in Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT (see Prof. Elisha Qimron), inter alia.

To all Christians: The question is, now that you've been informed, will you follow the authentic historical Pharisee Ribi? Or continue following the post-135 C.E. Roman-redacted antithesis—an idol?