By Stephen Wigley
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Contributor notice: Foreword via Michael Hardt, remark through Roland Boer
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Extra info for Balthasar's Trilogy (Readers Guide)
There follows under the heading of ‘The Light of Faith’, an exploration of the relationship between gnosis and pistis, between knowing and believing, as it is found in the Bible and subsequently in the theology of the great Alexandrine theologians. The thrust of this is to insist that a properly biblical gnosis is not an abstract standing back from the subject matter of faith, but rather a process of participation and engagement which leads to illumination and understanding, so that von Balthasar can posit an underlying unity between seeing (knowing) and believing.
Adrienne von Speyr has brought mysticism back from the clandestine existence into which, increasingly misunderstood, indeed scorned, it had been exiled and silenced by official theology and proclamation, and returned it to the centre of salvation history’ (FG: 89). In this way he might be seen to be reclaiming for Catholic orthodoxy those mystical experiences of Adrienne which were questioned during her lifetime. The second is to do with von Balthasar’s reading of the Bible and in particular his interpretation of aspects of the Easter story as read through the Gospel narratives.
It is not unexpected to find that proclamation and preaching have a much lower priority in the life of the Church than Barth allows in his Church Dogmatics. What is more of a surprise is to find that von Balthasar, for all his commitment to the life and form of the institutional Church, takes a similarly sceptical line to Barth as regards the practice of infant baptism. He regards it as ‘inadequate as a model for the sacramental event’ because ‘the subject involved neither perceives nor understands Christ’s gesture .
Balthasar's Trilogy (Readers Guide) by Stephen Wigley