Hans urs von Balthasar on the task appointed to the “guardians of thought”:

This is the ultimate truth: that Christians, as guardians of a metaphysics of the whole person in an age which has forgotten both Being and God, are entrusted with the weighty responsibility of leading this metaphysics of wholeness through the same fire [1 Cor. 3, 13]. But metaphysics is not a ware which can be bought and sold ready-made: we must ourselves think…for there is no ‘neutral’ metaphysics. Either one sees the mystery of the ultimate oscillation or one does not, and becomes blind. It is in no way a question of facilitating or sparing oneself thought on the basis of a theology that one already knows, and then of juggling with systems ab extra. This has often been the view of Christians, who have donned and stripped off metaphysics like a form of outer clothing; and this has been the cause of part of the historical tragedy…If they are called to be the guardians of thought, then they will note the extent to which pre-Christian thought in all its complexity preserved an advent-like openness of the coming of something greater than itself by which it could be determined, and how much post-Christian thought, whether it will or not, has been determined by that which is greater than itself. The Christian sees this but does not become arrogant. As a man among men, he is involved with the destiny of all. It would given rise to a false idea which would be difficult to dispel if we were to say that the metaphysician can only ‘ask questions’ of Being whereas the Christian brings read-made answers from revelation, which surpass the act of thinking and destroy it from within…the Bible [does not] primarily exist in order to toss ready answers down to ascending thought (655-6, italics mine).

Lurking within these closing remarks to The Glory of the Lord, Vol 5 is a subtle critique against theologies based upon ‘pure’ or positivist accounts of revelation. Because von Balthasar refuses to regard Being as a formal and empty concept, opting instead to see the radiating doxa of God saturating all existence, there remains an absolute concern for the whole; not as a ready-made totality, but as an “advent-like” openness to the eternally donating Triune God, ultimately revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

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