Wednesday, 23 August 2006

David Bentley Hart's beautiful theology

Gaunilo’s Island and Gower Street are currently blogging their way through David Bentley Hart’s masterpiece, The Beauty of the Infinite (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003).

I was talking with a friend today about Hart’s The Beauty of the Infinite, and I tried to persuade him that it’s one of the best books ever written by an American theologian. It really is an extraordinary book – profound, searching, beautiful, and often very humorous. In good Eastern Orthodox fashion, Hart is infinitely composed, beautifully serene – there is no Protestant anxiety, none of the darkness of Good Friday, but only the peaceful and radiant glory of the triune God.

In contrast to such light and serenity, Hart likes to shake his head at what he calls the “nihilistic” tendencies of Lutheran theology – e.g. “the ghastly Wagnerian opulence of Jüngel’s cult of Verwesung [decay] and the dark, late romantic coloratura of his unwholesome theological Liebestod [love-death]” (p. 373). If ever a book could persuade you to convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, this would be the one!

Anyway, here’s one of my favourite quotes from the book:

“God is, so to speak, infinite discourse, full of the perfect utterance of his Word and the limitless variety of the Spirit’s ‘reply.’ Here, in the most elementary terms, is Christian metaphysics: God speaks God, and creation occurs within that speaking, as a rhetorical embellishment, a needless ornament” (p. 291).

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