Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Love, Revelation, Christ . . . . Torah?

As may be clear if one wanders around this blog, I have a variety of interests. In fact, my changing interests often drive me crazy, as I move from topic to topic, tradition to tradition. Just yesterday I found an article by professor Antonio Lopez from the John Paul II Institute. I have been interested in his classes and also over the summer purchased his book entitled, Spirit's Gift: The Metaphysical Insight of Claude Bruaire.

The article was entitled
ETERNAL HAPPENING: GOD AS AN EVENT OF LOVE. I was very excited to read it, because it was focused on the work of Hans Urs von Balthasar, one of my favorite authors, while also mentioning Martin Heidegger (another favorite).

Here is the opening paragraph from Father Lopez's article:

In order to ponder anew the mystery of love, without which man’s “life remains senseless” and “incomprehensible,” I would like to appeal in this essay to Balthasar’s understanding of God as an “eternal happening.” This insight attempts to bring together what the Triune God reveals of himself in Jesus Christ: he reveals himself as love (1 Jn 4:16), and as a love that is both an eternal being (esse) and an eternal event (Ereignis, Geschehen). In Christ, man has come to learn that love is not a transient emotion, but rather the mystery that encompasses all of being: from the moment when there was nothing but God (Gn 1:1) to the present instant in which man lives out his existence (2 Cor 5:14–15). The essence of being is love. Everything and everyone finds its proper place within this eternal mystery. At the same time, the Incarnate Word has disclosed that the mystery of love that constitutes us (Jn 1:3; Col 1:15–20) is pure gift of himself. Divine love is an ever-new gift of himself to himself (Hingabe) and an undeserved gift of himself to us (Eph 2:4; Rom 8:32). God is an event of love.
While I was excited about this opening, I later felt that Fr. Lopez makes the same move that von Balthasar often does in the sense that after beautifully describing God as love and discussing many of the philosophical issues surrounding it (with far more expertise than I ever could), he then states that the only way we can know this about God is through Jesus Christ (God's speaking about God's self).

Here is a paragraph in which he does that:

To be able to say something about God’s eventful nature without claiming first to hollow out its mystery and then to explain it away, all by the sole means of the fragile tool of human logic, it is necessary to approach the divine mystery by way of the access the divine mystery itself grants: that is, by way of the only mediator between God and humankind, Jesus Christ (1 Tm 2:5–6). There can be no speech about God apart from what the person of Christ reveals of God. What theology manages to express about the godhead, then, will be adequate only if it is rooted in his self-manifestation and not in conceptual logic.
While I understand the distinction with Eastern traditons, such as Buddhism that does not have a belief in a revelatory Creator God and with atheistic systems like Marxism or even purely negative theologies, I am not sure how Father Lopez and my beloved von Balthasar can make this leap to say that Christ is the only revelatory communication from God. What about Judaism and Islam (which I know very little about)?

Isn't the Torah (and all that that word includes: Written Torah - Torah she-bi-khtav and Oral Torah - Torah she-be-`al peh) the revelation of God's love for us? I think the leap to Jesus is fine for one who is already a believer, but as one who struggles with his faith, and one who finds much wisdom within Judaism and philosophy itself, this leap to Jesus seems too fast and too easy. Thereby, undermining the arguments.

I would love to hear others' thoughts.

1 comment:

GSK+ said...

We face so many questions here.
It seems to me that both the polytheistic & nontheistic "ways" are more matters of Experience than of Revelation -- one's own experience, one's use of others' experience, etc.
Further, the Experiential & the Revealed religions manage find ways around the exclusivist issue you raise here, most of the time.
Revealing involves a Revealer.
Torah is both what is revealed and how that revelation is to be owned.
Poor St Paul had such trouble with his Gentiles who thought that believing in Torah was a condition of salvation as opposed to being salvation itself. Gentiles sought a cause where Jews celebrated a result. For Paul, Christ is to Gentiles as Torah is to Jews. No replacing, no repressing.
A problem emerges later (and is still very much with us) when it became apparent that not all Gentiles are or ever would be Christians. Especially that set which sees itself in continuity with Israel & the Church, but in the form of their dis/re-placement. Islam.
It seems that a great "revelation" of our lifetimes is that neither Jerusalem nor Rome nor Mecca can claim to be the only place from which salvation flows.
The world cannot afford it. Nor can The Religions. Nor we seekers.