November 30, 2010 / Theology
This essay is neither for nor against Glenn Beck. The philosopher Michel Foucault warns us …
May 11, 2009
Truth is something of a lost art. Even a cursory reading of the primary texts of twentieth century philosophy will make us hesitant to talk about truth in any unqualified manner, and all the theology worth bothering about has listened very closely to these critiques. Here and there, however, we do find a theologian who is ready to guide us on a difficult journey, through these important critiques, to a place in which we can take up again the tools and instruments of the lost art of truth.
Hans Urs von Balthasar is among the most dexterous of these guides. His work is far from flawless, and it certainly deserves the kind of critical engagement that it is finally receiving in the academy, but before it is challenged and corrected, his journey into questions of human and divine truth needs to be read and, perhaps, “illuminated.”
Illumination may also be a lost art. The marginalia of the scribes in the monasteries were, on the one hand, attempts to stay awake during the long hours of candle-lit transcription. They were also, though, attempts to open up the ideas, metaphors, and passages discovered in the texts. The illuminative markings in the works of the church fathers amounted to an attempt to follow, and to make followable, the great minds of the Christian tradition in the practice of reading the world through the mystery of Christ.1
In that spirit, the following text is less critique or exposition than, I hope, something of an illumination. I attempt here to follow, and to make followable, one of the real giants of modern theology in his attempt to read the truth of the world through the mystery of Christ. Like the medieval illuminatores, I may get a bit excessive in my doodlings, running away with an idea, before returning to von Balthasar’s text. I can only assure the reader that I write with his books open before me, attempting to explain to myself and to others what it is that I am reading. It’s my marginalia, and I offer it for public consumption.
The work that I’ll be following most closely, if implicitly, is the three-part Theo-Logic.2 I must confess at the outset that I am still very much a student of it, and I find it often difficult to plot. The books feel to me like a cave with three concomitant levels, and when exploring any one level, I’ve learned to expect tunnels to the other two levels in the most unexpected places—indeed, sometimes there are holes in both floor and ceiling. Getting lost in these passages accounts for a good bit of the pleasure I get from reading von Balthasar’s text.
The first of the three volumes of the Theo-Logic is The Truth of the World. The framework here is a quest for truth that brackets the “Christ question,” or the primacy of revelation, and asks about what seems to be true regarding the being of the world itself. It is important to note, however, that von Balthasar carries out this inquiry in a way that leads back at every turn to specific issues of Christ, divinity, and revelation. This is what I mean by the passages and tunnels and holes in the floor. The second volume is The Truth of God. The framing question here is “how does God state truth in the world?” And the answer is thoroughly christological: the Logos becomes flesh and dwells among us as God’s definitive account of truth. The third volume, The Spirit of Truth, asks, “How do we who are in the world come to speak the truth, once we see it manifested by Christ?” My section breaks in this paper will follow this mapping of questions as provided by the three volumes of the Theo-Logic.
As an initial question, though, we might simply ask whether the pursuit of truth is itself even an intellectually respectable task. There is a popular philosophical notion that a relativism of various perspectives is a more humble noetic posture than any appeal to a unifying reason. Von Balthasar, though, poses quite a riddle to proponents of such lofty humility: if being is unveiled in and through time and particularity, doesn’t the suggestion that all particularities must be relative to one another imply a perspective from above, looking down on the paths to truth from a point hovering somewhere in midair? And doesn’t this, then, suggest that the one making this judgment is detached from being, precisely by floating above the particularity in which being always unveils itself? In the end, the humility of the abstract pluralist is the humility of one who says, “If you could only see yourself from the higher perspective at which I stand, you would know how naive you really are.”3
At first airing, however, von Balthasar’s answer to the question of the world’s truth may sound to us something like the lofty humility of the abstract pluralist. My task here will be to investigate the question more deeply. “Truth is symphonic,” he says.
By performing the divine symphony, all the instruments of creation discover why they have been assembled together. Initially they stand or sit next to one another as strangers, in mutual contradiction. Suddenly, as the music begins, they realize how they are integrated. Not in unison, but what is far more beautiful—in symphony.4
Doesn’t this seem to suggest that all the various voices and claims to speak truth in the world can only do so when they play together, like our falsely humble pluralism? Isn’t the audience at this symphony the abstracted observers of all the noise, who can listen and say, “Well, when you hear it all at once, it’s actually quite lovely”?
No, nothing of the kind, though we’ll need to take a rather circuitous route to find out why things are not as they seem. That path will take the following turns, along with, again, the volumes of the Theo-Logic: First, what is truth in itself? Second, what did Christ mean by “I am the truth”? And third, how should a Christian use the term?
I. Truth in Itself
Truth, as a fascinating little book by the philosopher-theologian Rob Miner suggests, is something that is made.5 Already this will sound anachronistic to readers of the later Heidegger, who characterized Western metaphysics as the overly active imposition of mechanism and invention onto the cosmos, and pointed the way to a more passive, “pastoral” role for postmodern thought. In fact, though, the Heideggerian critique—as well as the Levinasian and Derridian critiques that followed—supplied us with some bad information. Initially, indeed, activity and invention had a place in the order of things, though I will say below why this was nothing like mechanical imposition. The Greek philosophers, church fathers, and medieval scholastics all had robust accounts of the correspondences between the activity of the soul and the activity of the cosmos of which it was a part. The modern skeptical epistemologies, however, were the reverse of Heidegger’s caricature. The Kantian critiques of theoretical, practical, and aesthetic reason were structured from start to finish as a way of denying the soul’s ability to place meaning in the world. Instead, the world must come to us without our molding or altering it in any way, except insofar as we resituate it within the furniture of our own psyches. The modern rejection of myths, fairy tales, and metaphysical speculation is based in this Kantian assumption (although it also predated Kant in various permutations) that the world is truest when it comes to us without any interference whatsoever.
However, we know now that this never really happens. Before Kant, Descartes pulled the Augustinian subject down off the shelf; dusted it off; purified it of its literary and theological contextualization within an economy of sin, grace, and salvation; and built a world on its shoulders. All of which is in itself an interesting literary exercise, except that Descartes then made the claim to have “received” this system as the unprejudiced idea of a radical skeptic.6 Similarly, Kant’s “reason alone” takes Thomas Aquinas’s adaequatio intellectus et rei, that is, his epistemological theory based in the correspondence of mind and thing, out of the context of a world made from divine ideas and builds from it a system of supposedly pure critique, one fully determined in itself before it enters into contact with the manipulative hands of men and women. But their words are still built, still made. The difference between the premodern and its modern redactions is that without myth and fairy tales, the creative element of truth-telling is lost sight of, and the crafted ontologies can be made to look predetermined. Made to look unmade. The modern nuance is simply that the making of truth was encrypted falsely as pure reception.
Truth is a thing that is made: this may sound like constructivism of the worst kind, which evacuates any coherent theory of meaning and truth with the claim that all meaning and truth is made and therefore no truth is ultimate. In fact, all I am suggesting so far is that no truth is untampered with, and I am leaving open the question of where the raw materials for the tampering originate. The Aristotelian Scholastic tradition recognized this tampering in the theory of the soul, in which the intellectus passibilis (passive intellect) is coordinated with the intellectus agens (active intellect), and meaning is made, literally, by a receptive process that is also and at the same time a creative process.
This means that, in the Middle Ages, one could not claim to know something that he or she simply could not express, as we often assume is possible now. Back then, you knew it only when you could step out into the public realm of language and “make sense.” We still retain a hint of this in our pedagogy, even if it is gone from our philosophy of education—think, for instance, of the use of songs or rhymes to learn words and spelling. My daughter learned to spell red a couple of years ago from a song about the color, the letters, and the things in her world that are red. What happened, in that instance, was that a teacher helped the children make up a song that would integrate the new knowledge of language into their minds. So a creative process corresponds to a receptive one. We do this in math too, when we make up images and patterns to add, subtract, and multiply, even if we never fully acknowledge to ourselves or others what these patterns are. And in learning a foreign language, you don’t actually speak a language fluently until you can speak it creatively, not just repeating phrases you’ve heard, but making jokes, placing the distinct stamp of your own personality on the language.7
This is not to deny that some truths require less tampering than others—in fact, if you tamper too much with some questions or statements, you will create a lie. Still, sense must be made, and the process of understanding the question will necessarily involve a lightning fast relay of synapses that we would find to be quite creative, I suspect, could we slow it down. There is a ratio between receiving and inventing that goes into the process of understanding and so also into expressing truth. The intellect must learn the art of discernment so that the appropriate correspondence between reception and creativity can be achieved.
If this is true for rather simple questions of meaning, it is even more so when the questions become complicated and difficult to frame. Von Balthasar writes, “The deepest questions of truth need decision and taste in order to be seen.”8 When we begin asking questions about the meaning of cosmic events and human relationships, we need a good measure of creativity, because here the intellectus passibilis gives us the forms of the world only through a glass darkly. The rise of magic arts in the Renaissance—astrology, tarot, alchemy—was precisely a reaction against the kind of passive determinism that culminated in Kant’s critiques. Truth offers itself to human beings in forms to be handled with care, and that must be rendered meaningful through schools of manipulation, as Renaissance authors like Pico della Mirandola demonstrated.9 These schools of manipulation often combined the study of scripture and Catholic dogma with the study of the magic arts, and the guiding idea was that human beings, created in the image of God, were bestowed with powers of creativity that freed them, in certain defined ways, from the determining powers of the cosmos. A well-trained person could use the powers of the stars and sacred symbols to achieve certain ends not simply written into the structure of the cosmos.
Ironically, it is these same arts that became the most deterministic of all in late modernity. Von Balthasar points out that a horoscope in the newspaper written for any whose birthdays fall in a certain period ignores all the particularities of the individual person who might read it—from ascending sign through the various situations of life and mood. So we are now utterly passive to the raging forces of the stars and archetypes—horoscopes too, in the end, are all too Kantian. The real trouble with tarot readings and horoscopes, von Balthasar says, is not that they could not possibly tell the truth, it’s rather that we currently lack any discipline of practical-magical theology that would ensure their pastoral application.10
So the thing to note about truth in itself, as it appears in the world, is that it is made—or better yet, it is in the making. The composer of a symphony makes true music. The score is not determined by the instruments, though it is written and called forth with an ear to their range, tone, and particularities. The audience as well must make the music. The listener with an untrained ear can’t speak to the truth of Mozart’s music, because he lacks the skills of crafting the many sounds into a unity, and so there can be no correspondence in his soul with the material vibrations he hears.
You may notice that I’ve made an assumption here. Like von Balthasar, I have not yet distinguished between beauty and truth. We wouldn’t typically use the word true to speak of a beautiful sound. Still, we do in certain settings, and the stretch from the common use of the terms to the technical philosophical use that I am making of them here may not be so great. I should say that my colliding of the terms is different from the famous line in the John Keats poem, “‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—That is all ye know of earth, and all ye need to know.’”11 Keats collapses them reductively, suggesting that the use of the term “truth” is limited to immanent appearances of beauty we encounter. For me, following von Balthasar and Aquinas, these terms collide not because the true is limited by the subjective encounters with beauty, but because they are transcendentals of being. In place of a lengthy discussion of the way that the beautiful, the good, and the true relate to one another in von Balthasar’s oeuvre, I will simply say that truth, beauty, and goodness, are each faithful to being in their own way—ways that are, for our eyes and ears, distinct yet interrelated. That is, they are different, but they are coordinated to one another in the finite world because they coincide in God, who is being itself in all its transcendence and simplicity. So the symphony that is aesthetically the most beautiful ought, ultimately, to be the one that calls us to goodness and that informs us, however implicitly or tacitly, of the truth of the world.
Thus, according to von Balthasar, the proper ratios between reception and active construction can make a truth that is not relative to the maker but is in fact, if those ratios are faithful to truth in its transcendence, true for all of being.
II. Truth in Christ
So given this purported fidelity, we ought to be able to read the world well, interacting with it using all the creativity with which our minds operate, and speak the truth. The trouble is, however, the Christian narrative runs counter to this scenario.
Here’s what I mean. Take the sum of the truth statements from the Gospel of John (the summit of the gospels, for von Balthasar, and the one after which he names his order and publishing house). Christ is “full of grace and truth”; he is “the way, the truth, and the life”; his Spirit “will guide you into all truth” and thus make you free.12 The point of these passages is that truth is what is spoken and lived in Christ. In the context of the prologue about the Logos dwelling among us, we could say that in John’s gospel, Jesus is what God means by truth. He himself is the truth of God.
However, John’s gospel is equally clear that the world can’t read this truth that is Christ. This is the truth that John the Baptist came bearing witness to and which ultimately gets him killed. As the drama of the gospel builds, there’s no question that Jesus is headed in this same direction, and it’s centrally his speaking the truth that is motivating the urge: “As it is, you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God” (Jn. 8:40). The drama climaxes at Pilate’s “What is truth?” (Jn. 18:38). It is a rhetorical question—Jesus has just told him, in so many words, that you only know the answer if you belong to the truth, which Pilate does not. So in John’s gospel, the truth is unrecognizable in the world. Truth spoken in a false world leads to crucifixion. When Jesus Christ came into the world not just speaking the truth but being and enacting the truth, the world knew him not.
According to von Balthasar’s metaphor, the melody was off. We were all playing the score at varying speeds, skipping over rests and codas, playing loudly when pianissimo had been scribbled in lightly with red pencil. We had lost the ear for the other instruments, other sections, the percussion. We were “fiddling about without any plan.”13 We could even say that there was no coherent answer to Pilate’s question, given the unrecognizability of Christ—no one could speak the language of the Logos, no one could make a joke in this foreign language. In John’s gospel, the incarnation itself was not yet true, because it could not be received and made true—even by the disciples.
Curiously though, John seems to suggest that “making it true” is an ambiguous task. There are not enough books in the entire world to record all the significant deeds of the incarnate Logos (Jn. 21:15). What happens, I believe, in John’s gospel is that the whole question of truth shifts from one of encyclopedic volumes and catalogs to one of act. The act of the Way and Truth and Life in Christ, God’s performance of “greater love” (Jn. 15:13).
Von Balthasar also locates the truth of Christ in act. Romance scholars might note the influence of Goethe here, which is never far below the surface in von Balthasar’s work. The action of truth coincides with the drama of the cross. Truth and the cross coincide because, in order for the truth that God makes in Christ to become the truth of the world, the world’s untruth had to be turned back on itself, and not just partially, but in the very depths of its falsehood. A sock wrong-side-out can only be fixed by reaching all the way to the toes and pulling. The death of Christ is, for von Balthasar, the event of the absolute inexpressible truth blazing through the multilayered lies of the world, all the way through to death and damnation, embracing along the way every lie of human speech and every misdirection of a perverse cosmos. In other words, it is a truth reaching all the way to the toes in the deepest depths of the inverted order, and pulling up.
Two things, especially, are accomplished in Christ’s decent into hell. First, it exposes the heights and depths of existence. The passion does not just open up heaven, but it creates new depths of hell, in the way that a scoop in a sand box can only redeem a lost toy by digging a deeper hole. The complacency of Pontius Pilate stands in stark contrast to the intensity of human experience in light of the revelation of God in Christ. Pilate has not only lost the heaven of hope and desire but the hell of anguish and true hatred. Consider, as an illustration of this bipolar exposure, Psalm 137, super flumina babylonis, “By the waters of Babylon we sat and wept,” which we might read typologically as a kind of Holy Saturday Psalm. The intense and violent hatred of the last three verses is a product of the “highest joy” recalled in the first six. Only by these foreign waters (Saturday’s tomb) can the Psalmist reach out longingly for an intimacy so dear and rich (Sunday’s hope) that it could bring to light the true horror of the loss of Jerusalem (Friday’s cross). Like the exile of Judah that reawakens the heights and depths of a faith that had grown satiated with mediocrity, the descent into hell opens up true humanity at its most radical extremes.
Second, Christ’s decent into hell captures the truth of the whole as it descends, and in so doing tells us something significant about how truth is now configured both without and within the Logos. Outside the Logos, nothing is true, because Logos is the secret truth of the world (as John 1 explains). So the death of Christ is not just any death, even a death that puts the Logos in solidarity with the dying. It is rather the first death, the true death, that captures and embraces all the isolated, alienated, dying truths of the world. And all other truths are, in John’s gospel, nothing but isolated, alienated, dying untruths. Nothing can now be true independent of the descent unto death of the divine Logos.
Inside the Logos, both the truth and untruth of all things are exposed. The principal untruth, that life ends in death, is exposed as a lie when death is led captive and subsumed. The principal truth is that all things are made to glorify God. All things, not only you and me, but all creation, which includes the mountains and hills (as Isaiah said), and even the rocks (as Jesus said).
Thus, truth in Christ, or Chrisitan truth, is established by the great upheaval enacted in the descent of the Logos. All distinctions between true and false, sacred and profane, and Jew and Gentile are overturned—the lies that annihilate are themselves annihilated. All truth is slated for resurrection, because all things discover their truth, their part in the symphony, in the death and descent, resurrection and ascent, of the Logos.
III. The Spirit of Truth
But this truth is not laid fully bare, is it? What, precisely, do the “descension” and ascension do to the manifold truths of the world? Are we any clearer after John’s account of the resurrection about how the truth of Athens relates to the events in Jerusalem? Do we have a clear grid for relating other religious traditions of the world to the Logos? What about the truths of the mathematical and scientific disciplines? Where does the flaming meteorite that is the descending Logos encounter them, and what do they look like afterward?
Obviously, much still remains ambiguous. Recall two passages from John, and you’ll see what von Balthasar is up to and why, after writing a book on the truth of the world and a second book on the truth of God revealed as Christ, he had to write a third book called The Spirit of Truth:
This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (Jn. 21:24-25)
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (Jn. 16:13)
Christ is the truth, and yet the Spirit must actively lead us into a discovery of this truth, since it is far too vast ever to be fully cataloged. Von Balthasar writes, “In Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for us God has actually entered into the center of our nature and personhood, but it is in the outpouring of the divine Spirit into our hearts that this objectively given reality comes alive, subjectively, for us and for God in us.”14
Just as truth is not simply a passive reception, a theoria, but also a corresponding creativity, a poeisis, Christian truth is not simply an absorption of the Christ event, but a constant engagement of new falsehoods and partial truths that require a remaking of the Logos. Such an obedient inventing of truth requires a discerning ear that is attuned to the one unique incarnate Logos himself.
Christians speak the truth not just in knowing Christ but in knowing him crucified, that is, in dragging the world with them through the waters of baptism. This is the inventive act in which the Spirit is leading us, through cross and hell, into all truth. We are the new Adam, to extend Paul’s theology of recapitulation. We rename the world as Adam once named the animals. This is not simply a matter of voluntarist determination—of making it up—but of listening, discerning, and redistributing all of being’s perfections, much like a conductor who draws sounds from an instrument that the musician operating it didn’t know were possible.
This “ear to the world” explains why von Balthasar begins with a volume on “the truth of the world” and says that “in order to be a serious theologian, one must also, indeed, first, be a philosopher.”15 No conductor who is not intimate with the sounds and potentialities of each instrument in the orchestra has any business raising the baton. The parallel axiom, by the way, is equally true, and shows why the capstone of the entire work is a book on the Holy Spirit: in order to be a serious philosopher, one must finally be a theologian.
The gospel story is not simply about a counter melody that enters the chaos of isolated fiddling and catches on, but rather a true melody that descends into this cacophony and exposes it for both its hideousness and its beauty. (And the ugliness is, after all, only recognizably ugly because it retains hints of the beauty). The subtly intoned yet true melody plays under the surface and allows the musicians slowly and faithfully to catch it up, creatively retrieving it in order to return to the surface with a new and restored beauty.
I’ve often wished that there existed a study of the effects of the theologies and metaphysics of late Scholasticism, Lutheranism, and Tridentinism on the great musical masters of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Such a work might set out with the working suspicion that for all their musical and even theological genius, Bach and Mozart were limited by the limited Logos of their age. The premodern notion of a truth that is given up to the risks of human construction, in active correspondence with the transcendent Logos, had already passed out of memory, and it seems likely that the ratios of the European composers must somehow be effected by this cultural amnesia. If one is looking for a truly Balthasarian composition, in which redemption is suggested by a passage through the brokenness of structure and rhythm at the very depths of instrumental possibility, Coltraine’s Love Supreme might come the closest of any musical endeavor.
So the Spirit gathers the orchestra (the church) into the new descent and ascent of the score. But how does the new score (Christ) match up to, salvage, or restore the old score (world)? This is the task of the church to discern, the “all truth” that the Spirit leads us into. But the church can’t see it from above, by looking down on the world and seeing the whole completed score. Truth is not simply a completed score, but the action of playing it back to God the way it was written.16 Only by following Christ into the cacophony, by descending into hell ourselves, by actively engaging in the redemption of fallen melody, can the church be alive with the resurrective power of the Spirit. Because the church descends into hell with Christ in order to enact and discover the world’s truth, truth knows no limit. It knows boundaries to be sure—the bounds of the Logos, expressed in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. But this Logos is infinite, and the world does not contain enough library shelving to contain a catalog of the potential ways of creatively expressing this particular truth. Thus, the true music of the world is an integrated, unified, endlessly reinventing performance of the limitless heights and depths of divine truth.
As a final word, I offer again the lines quoted above, which have provided the guiding metaphor for this attempt to learn the world with von Balthasar. And I offer them in hopes that they will now be in a better position to illuminate new paths of exploration for fellow pilgrims and wayfarers in search of truth:
By performing the divine symphony, all the instruments of creation discover why they have been assembled together. Initially they stand or sit next to one another as strangers, in mutual contradiction. Suddenly, as the music begins, they realize how they are integrated. Not in unison, but what is far more beautiful—in symphony.
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1. See Peter M. Candler Jr., Theology, Rhetoric, Manuduction, or Reading Scripture Together on the Path to God (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006). The students in the von Balthasar seminar I taught at Seminary of the Southwest, and especially Joe Behen, helped give shape to the thoughts I present here. I am especially grateful to Pete Candler for the invitation to present this paper at a Traditio seminar at Baylor University, and to Pete, Michael Hanby, Rob Miner, Doug Harrison, and the other professors and students whose engagement with it that afternoon has influenced its final form. The nods to all four of these scholars, also friends of mine, that you will notice in the text and footnotes were not intended to be the shameless pandering that it may now seem, but rather a way of connecting my stream of ideas with the complex patterns of intellection that would, I knew, already be at work in the minds of the teachers and students with whom I spoke. In retrospect, it may have been shameless pandering. I am equally indebted to the editorial staff of The Other Journal for improving the language and clarity of this paper and assisting me in the transition from a spoken address to a written essay.
2. Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theo-Logic: Theological Logical Theory, Volume I, Truth of the World, trans. Adrian J. Walker (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2000); Volume II, Truth of God, trans. Adrian J. Walker (Ignatius, 2004); Volume III, The Spirit of Truth, trans. Graham Harrison (Ignatius, 2005).
3. The sense of this paragraph is taken from von Balthasar, Theo-Logic I, 50. The words in quotation marks are a hypothetical response, not a direct quote from von Balthasar.
4. Hans Urs von Balthasar, Truth is Symphonic: Aspects of Christian Pluralism, trans. Graham Harrison (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1987), 9.
5. Rob Miner, Truth in the Making: Knowledge and Creation in Modern Philosophy and Theology (New York, NY: Routledge, 2003).
6. See Michael Hanby, Augustine and Modernity (New York, NY: Routledge, 2003).
7. I owe the line about making jokes to Alan Gregory, though I think he owes it to a line somewhere in John Milbank’s Theology and Social Theory. Still, though, I owe it to Alan Gregory because I didn’t realize its significance until he used it in a new context with me in a conversation we were having—which illustrates the point perfectly.
8. Von Balthasar, Theo-Logic I, 29.
9. See “New Learning and New Ignorance,” C. S. Lewis’s brilliant introduction to his English Literature in the Sixteenth Century Excluding Drama (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1944), 1-65.
10. This is taken from his “Afterword” to the anonymous volume Meditations on the Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism, trans. Robert Powell (New York, NY: Tarcher, 2002). Doug Harrison brought this book to my attention.
11. John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” lines 49-50, in The Best Poems of the English Language, ed. Harold Bloom (New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2004), 466.
12. Jn. 1:14; 14:6; 16:13. All scripture references are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise noted.
13. Von Balthasar, Truth is Symphonic, 8.
14. Ibid., 66-67.
15. Von Balthasar, Theo-Logic I, 8.
16. “If truth could be like this, then it would have already ceased being truth. It would have become finite, and this would suggest the possibility of attaining a standpoint that comprehended truth from above, a standpoint, then, that was beyond truth.” Von Balthasar, Theo-Logic I, 50.
Anthony D. Baker
Anthony D. Baker teaches classes in both historical theology and constructive theology as a faculty member of Seminary of the Southwest. He is currently working on a book that explores theological themes in the works of Shakespeare, and he is the author of Diagonal Advance: Perfection in Christian Theology, as well as articles in Modern Theology, Political Theology, Journal of Anglican Studies, Anglican Theological Review, Heythrop Journal, and other journals and collections. Baker is the theologian-in-residence at Saint Julian of Norwich Episcopal Church in Round Rock, Texas, where he and his three children attend.