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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: May 2006

16 - Balthasar and metaphysics

from Part III - Disciplines



According to Hans Urs von Balthasar, 'the Christian is called to be the guardian of metaphysics in our time' (GL5, 656).

Obviously, this tocsin represents a distinctive, even idiosyncratic, conception of metaphysics, one thoroughly incompatible with any of the standard conceptions of metaphysics in Anglo-American philosophy. For Balthasar, metaphysics and Christian theology are distinct activities, each with its own sources and rules; but neither, he believes, can be properly conducted in ignorance of the other. Christian theologians cannot develop an account of biblical revelation which would pretend to be completely unconnected with pre-Christian and non-Christian traditions of metaphysical thinking. On the other hand, the experience of wonder which is central, in his view, in all philosophical traditions, is now almost completely invisible to philosophers who are not themselves practising Christians. In virtue of the biblically grounded awe at the divine glory which is made available to Christians, liturgically and in ascetical practice, it becomes possible to retrieve the 'experience of being' which, historically, philosophers from the beginning have sought to articulate, and with which any serious philosopher today should wish to engage.

In short, the true guardians of the experience of being are those philosophers who have the faith to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

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The Cambridge Companion to Hans Urs von Balthasar
  • Online ISBN: 9781139000024
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