Defending von Balthasar’s Apology of Holiness

Setting Up the Apology

Introducing Hans Urs von Balthasar

Hans Urs von Balthasar is acknowledged as one of the greatest Roman Catholic theologians of the twentieth century.  His name is familiar to Catholic theologians, but not to their protestant counterparts.  Perhaps one reason for this Swiss theologian’s relative obscurity is the density and difficulty of his work.  As Mark McIntosh of Loyola University puts it: “Von Balthasar’s style is by turns allusive, poetic, combative, oracular, dense and always idiomatic.”[1]  In doing theology, Balthasar drew from immense resources.  The influential catholic theologian Cardinal Henri de Lubac once wrote, “This man is perhaps the most cultivated of his time…Classical antiquity, the great European literatures, the metaphysical tradition, the history of religions, the diverse exploratory adventures of contemporary man and, above all, the sacred sciences, St. Thomas, St. Bonaventure, patrology (all of it)—not to speak just now of the Bible—none of them that is not welcomed and made vital by this great mind.”[2]

Hans Urs von Balthasar draws from these vastly diverse resources when he does theology.  As a result, it is easy to lose one’s way in the corridors of Balthasar’s prodigious thought.  But even though his writing may often overwhelm, one cannot help but feel a sense of respect at the depth from which Balthasar writes.  While my intention in writing this essay is to articulate and defend Balthasar’s “apology of holiness,” which I will begin shortly, I confess a secondary intention as well: I believe that his work is tragically overlooked all-too-often and deserves more attention, especially among protestant thinkers.  When I say that my goal is to articulate and defend, I am not saying that I intend to decisively refute all the potential defeaters that are issued against his apology.  Instead, I hope to show that any would-be-defeaters do not decisively refute Balthasar’s apology.  Because the apology draws from his entire corpus—which is elusive and difficult to categorize—any attempt to dismiss it without reckoning his major themes and arguments is premature.  It is based upon intuitions that deserve further consideration.  Hans Urs von Balthasar’s apology of holiness is coherent and has explanatory power.  None of the objections that I have considered diminish the strength of his argument; while my treatment of objections is by no means exhaustive, I have included what I consider three significant challenges to Balthasar’s apology.

Before articulating the apology, I must first give a brief sketch of some of the major assumptions and themes of Balthasar’s work. Balthasar’s work offers a strong critique to modernist approaches to metaphysics and epistemology.  In this way, he bears a striking resemblance to many postmodern thinkers.  However, Balthasar doesn’t adopt the extreme skepticism of standard postmodernism.  Nor does he reject the idea of meta-narrative.

The culmination of Balthasar’s thought is expressed in his theological trilogy.  In his trilogy, Balthasar sets out to articulate Christian dogmatics in aesthetic, dramatic, and veridical terms, based upon the Platonic properties of being—the beautiful, the good, and the true.  “Balthasar insisted that there can be no reflection on the truth of Christian revelation (Part 3) until it is lived out in committed action (Part 2), which a Christian will never feel called to do without having first perceived revelation in all its inherent beauty (Part 1).”[3]  It is the fundamental property of beauty to elicit a response; and for Balthasar, revelation is primarily a disclosure of the beauty of the Lord.[4]  Beauty compels, and a Christianity without beauty has lost its ability to compel.  Therefore, Balthasar begins his work with his theological aesthetics. 

I believe this approach can be particularly powerful in our postmodern context.  While Balthasar may be more rightly considered pre-modern in his orientation rather than postmodern, he turns modernist assumptions upside down and presents a compelling vision for Christian theology.  Balthasar has much to offer for those who are seeking a profound ally in the contemporary reformulation and orientation of theology for our postmodern era.

Articulating Balthasar’s Apology of Holiness

Now I return to the primary goal of this essay: to articulate and defend Balthasar’s “apology of holiness.”  Balthasar argues that “…the ‘perfect’ Christian is also the perfect proof of Christianity: in the Christian’s existential transparency, Christianity becomes comprehensible both in itself and to the world and itself exhibits a spiritual transparency. The saint is the apology for the Christian religion.”[5]  And to flesh this idea out a bit more, Balthasar writes: “Instead of possessing a ‘proof,’ they ‘are’ a reflection of it in their lives. As they respond to the glory of God and reflect it, it shines forth not only for them but for others. For, according to the Spirit of revelation, the really holy person—in the sense of Leviticus 11:44f.: ‘For I am the Lord you God; consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am holy’—is the best ‘proof’ of the truth of revelation.”[6]  So, Balthasar argues that the non-believer aesthetically perceives the “glory of God” in the life of a holy person.  This serves as the best “proof” for the non-believer.  In order to understand what Balthasar is claiming, we need to walk through the process by which, according to Balthasar, the non-believer comes to faith. By walking through this process, I will show how his apology of holiness consists of two claims.

Balthasar argues that it is impossible to have any knowledge of God or verify the truth of revelation apart from actually living within a Christian faith-stance.[7]  The individual outside of this faith-stance (the non-believer) is unable to come to the Christian faith of his or her own accord.  In order to perceive revelation, “eyes are needed that are able to perceive the spiritual form.”[8]  Non-believers are unable to have knowledge of God. As we have seen Balthasar articulate earlier, the non-believer is struck by the reflection of the Glory of the Lord in the life of the holy person, and as the non-believer is attracted by the holiness of the Christian, s/he is drawn into living a similar life.  As this person engages in “Christian experience,” the reality of God begins to take shape.[9] In other words, a person must first participate in Christian experience before one can have knowledge of God.  And at this point, we understand the second sense of “proof” for Balthasar—that the holy life is self-validating. 

So, then, we have two proofs:

Proof One

A holy person is an apology for Christianity, because, through observing how a holy person lives, a non-believer can be attracted by the holiness of the Christian and drawn into living a similar life.  And at this point, they acquire the needed faith-stance to have knowledge of God.

Proof Two

It is through living a holy life that a person can convince him/herself that the Christian faith is correct, and that the God which is believed in is a real God. David Burrell, Professor of Philosophy and Theology at the University of Notre Dame agrees: “So one easily presumes that God must first be shown to exist before we can legitimately engage in those practices associated with belief in God. In fact, however, the situation is quite the reverse. It is those who participate in such practices who come to appreciate how intimately these practices are intertwined with a conviction of the reality of God.”[10]

This double-apology of holiness demonstrates Balthasar’s general methodology: we have beauty leading to goodness leading to truth.  This approach stands against the modernist approach.  Because of this contrary stance, it is to be assumed that there will be many challenges to this argument.

Objections and Challenges to the Apology

Whether or not Hans Urs von Balthasar’s apology of holiness is coherent and has explanatory power depends upon how it stands up to its challengers.  I consider the following issues to be present the biggest challenges to Balthasar’s position: the question of justification of belief, the subjectivity of attraction, and the challenge of religious diversity.  

The Justification of Belief

“However, it might be objected that, in the last resort, von Balthasar’s is a position which, irrespective of what he asserts, in effect denies that human rationality plays any significant role in the decision to adopt, and then to remain within, a faith-stance.  In short, the objector might ask, has he not presented us with a notion of ‘proof’ which is at odds with our conception of rationality?”[11]  Is Balthasar a fideist?

The Subjectivity of Attractiveness

How is one to put any stock in some sort of ambiguous religious attraction?  The non-believer is supposedly attracted by the life of the holy person. If Balthasar argues that this attraction must be followed by faith, and then, only after adopting a Christian faith-stance, one may have knowledge of God, isn’t one left without any means by which one may judge the attraction? How is one to understand this religious attraction? 

Pluralism

Victoria Harrison, lecturer in philosophy at the University of Colorado, levels what is perhaps the most powerful challenge against Balthasar’s apology: “For even though von Balthasar’s philosophical anthropology is specifically Christocentric, there is no reason, in principle, why his insights about human holiness (suitably abstracted from his Christian beliefs) could not be extended to other religions.  Indeed, it is difficult to see how the apologetic value of human holiness is not equally applicable to other religions, and hence how those sharing von Balthasar’s core intention can, on pain of inconsistency, avoid religious pluralism.”[12]  Pluralism is perhaps one the most difficult challenges against traditional orthodox faith in our day.  Can Balthasar’s apology stand up to this challenge?

Defending the Apology

The first challenge that I will address is that Balthasar’s approach isn’t justified.  In other words, his perspective is basic fideism.  This challenge is leveled directly at the second “proof” that I articulated, namely, that it is through living a holy life that a person can convince him/herself that the Christian faith is correct, and that the God which is believed in is a real God.  There is a great deal of commonality in Balthasar’s approach and that of Reformed Epistemology.  The work of Alvin Plantinga is widely respected, and by showing the compatibility of Balthasar’s and Plantinga’s respective approaches, a solid case for the coherence of Balthasar’s argument can be made.

Balthasar and the Reformed Epistemology of Plantinga

According to Plantinga, “The sensus divinitatis is a disposition to form theistic beliefs in various circumstances, in response to the sorts of conditions or stimuli that trigger the working of this sense of divinity.”[13] In other words, humans were created by God to have an accurate understanding of the things of God. Unfortunately, sin has damaged the sensus divinitatis.  As a result, the ability of an individual to have veridical knowledge of God has been terribly damaged or lost altogether.  Plantinga puts forth his Extended Aquinas/Calvin Model to show how this sensus divinitatis is restored for the Christian and furthermore argues how it meets the criteria for a warranted belief, and therefore can produce knowledge. In this model, God has “proposed and instituted a plan of salvation: the life, atoning suffering and death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the incarnate second person of the trinity. The result for us is the possibility of salvation from sin and renewed relationship with God.”[14]

Notice the similarity between Plantinga’s proposition and Balthasar’s: “If it is a matter of interpreting God’s supernatural revelation in history from the available signs, then the spirit searching for meaning requires a higher light of grace in order to synthesize the signs…The light of grace comes to the aid of this natural inability; it strengthens and deepens the power of sight. It does not provide new clues or compensate for the inadequacy of the ‘scientific’ arguments; rather, it bestows vision and makes the eye proportionate to what is being shown.”[15]  Balthasar bases this new sight on the incarnation and atoning work of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.[16]  In both models, we have a restored vision.  Christians are able to have sensory perception of God because of the restorative and saving work of Christ.

Next, according to Plantinga, God arranged for the production of inspired writings that give a reliable account of this saving activity by God.  Also, God sent the Holy Spirit to work in human hearts and minds, restoring the sensus divinitatis.  Now the regenerate believer is able to have knowledge of Christian truth.[17]  But this work of the Holy Spirit that restores the sensus restores affection as well.  The regenerate person is now able to love God and her neighbor.[18] 

Balthasar’s conclusions are essentially the same: “But once it has been determined that the point in Christ Jesus which explains his life-form does not lie within the purely human sphere and structure, but that everything about him rings true only when one accept his own presupposition of being the Son of God: then the initiation of life into this supernatural form becomes, at the same time, an initiation…within the realm of God’s own reality, and hence it finally becomes the process by which this reality takes shapes in the believer.  However, the rightness of the form to which the believer surrenders and entrusts himself—is confirmed within this existence of self-surrender as being true and correct, and this gives the believer a new form of Christian certitude which can be called ‘Christian experience.’”[19]  In other words, the restored God-perception enables the Christian to become initiated into the realm of God’s reality, where s/he is able to have true knowledge of God.

Balthasar is no fideist.  He recognizes the place for reason.  For him, knowledge of the truth of God comes from perceiving what actually there.  However, we need to see through the eyes of faith.  Faith may be a requirement for seeing truth, but there is still truth to be found.[20]

In order for a belief to be to be considered knowledge, that belief must be “produced by cognitive faculties or processes that are working properly, in an appropriate epistemic environment…according to a design plan that is aimed at truth, and is furthermore successfully aimed at truth.”  [21] Plantinga’s Extended Aquinas/Calvin Model meets these criteria. Here is a summary, by Plantinga of his model and its rationality:

To recount the essential features of the model, the internal instigation of the Holy Spirit working in concord with God’s teaching in Scripture is a cognitive process or belief-producing mechanism that produces in us the beliefs constituting faith, as well as a host of other beliefs.  These beliefs, of course, will seem to the believer to be true: that is part of what it is for them to be beliefs.  They will have the internal features of belief, of seeming to be true; and they can have this to various degrees. Second, according to the model, these beliefs will be justified; they will also have at least two further kinds of virtues.  IN the first place, they are internally rational, in the sense that the believer’s response to the experience she has (given prior belief) is within the range permitted by rationality, that is, by proper function; there is nothing pathological there.  And in the second place, the beliefs in question will have warrant: they will be produced by cognitive processes functioning properly in an appropriate environment according to a design plan successfully aimed at the production of true belief. To be sure, the process in question is not like the ordinary belief-producing mechanisms we have just by virtue of creation; it will be by the special work of the Holy Spirit.[22]

As with Plantinga’s Extended Aquinas/Calvin Model, Balthasar’s epistemology of the self-validation of faith fits the criteria: it has the internal features of belief, it is internally rational, and it is produced by the proper functioning of cognitive processes (of course, via the work of the Holy Spirit).  I will not, at this time, go into the task of defending Reformed Epistemology.  Plantinga’s reputation is super-human for a reason; he is much better equipped than I am at defending his position.  My hope is that, by showing how Balthasar’s epistemology could indeed be understood as a pre-cursor to Reformed Epistemology, Balthasar’s epistemology, while perhaps less developed, would be firmly bolstered by the arguments of Plantinga.  So, then, the second proof (It is through living a holy life that a person can convince him/herself that the Christian faith is correct, and that the God which is believed in is a real God) is on a solid foundation. 

Defending Proof One of the Apology

If you recall, the first proof in Balthasar’s apology is that A holy person is an apology for Christianity, because, through observing how a holy person lives, a non-believer can be attracted by the holiness of the Christian and drawn into living a similar life.  And at this point, they acquire the needed faith-stance to have knowledge of God.   This naturally raises two issues: how does this attraction work (and how does one judge religious attraction) and what is to keep this “proof” from applying to other religions?  First, attraction will be considered.

Considering Attraction

The place of religious attraction is strongly connected to the internal work of the Holy Spirit, which was briefly discussed earlier.  The ability to see with the eyes of faith is something graced by God, and actualized by the inner working of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, the idea of religious attraction is wholly consistent with Balthasar’s epistemology, and also Reformed Epistemology.  However, it is worth pursuing some sort of criteria by which we might judge the attraction. 

Any religion based upon incarnation must take incarnation seriously.  There is a tendency to view religious feeling and attraction as a sort of disembodies mysticism.  Balthasar would reject such mystical experiences as docetic.  David Burrell agrees; for him, one is attracted to God by seeing the followers of that God living in such a way that is recognizably liberating: “We should not expect to be able even to locate the divinity outside of religious practice, much less provide a way of establishing God’s reality independent of those practices which are designed to offer us access to God. If these practices and the communities they form, however, present a way which is recognizably liberating…then we will be attracted to the God they worship and led to inquire how such a divinity pervades the practices we have come to cherish.”[23]

The attractiveness of the Christian life form is inherent, according to Balthasar.[24] The attraction the individual feels is for Christ—who alone bridges the gap between silent transcendence and creation, thus making it possible for beings to be drawn into Being.  According to Balthasar, an exemplary Christian life makes somewhat concrete the mystery of the hypostatic union.[25]  This is because the authentic saint is “always the one who confuses himself the least with Christ and who, therefore, can most convincingly be transparent to Christ.” [26]Balthasar recognizes that people can and do have attractions and experiences that they mistakenly attribute to God.[27]  However, he considers the form of Christ to be the measure by which we can judge such attractions.  For example, the holy person whose lifestyle we are attracted to is only validly attractive if their lifestyle imitates Jesus.  Jesus is the definition of holiness.  In the life of saints, therefore, there is a pointing to of Jesus, and it is this pointing-to that attracts.

Regarding Pluralism

Pluralism is the most likely defeater for Balthasar’s position.  Not only is pluralism a thorn in the side of most Christian epistemologies, it is particularly the case for Balthasar, since his epistemology has no external logic or arguments.  In fact, the external aesthetic of holiness (that one comes into faith by being drawn into and following the example of a holy person) could actually serve to strengthen the pluralist position. After all, the seemingly universal supply of virtuous people would tend to indicate that there is nothing unique about Christianity.

Plantinga’s Defense

Plantinga disagrees. He looks at three potential pluralist defeaters and stares them down: the probabilistic defeater, the abstract charge of moral arbitrariness, and the concrete charge of moral arbitrariness.  I will look at Plantinga’s rejection of the pluralist argument, and later look at Balthasar’s approach.  In this case, Plantinga and Balthasar take different approaches, and together present a compelling defense against the pluralist attack.

The probabilistic defeater (posited J.L. Schellenberg) argues that since there are SO MANY religions out there, the odds that yours is right are pretty slim. Plantinga rightly rejects this argument: “If there is a source of warrant for Christian belief that is independent of any it acquires by way of probabilistic relations to other beliefs, then the fact (if it is a fact) that Christian belief isn’t particularly likely with respect to those others doesn’t show anything of much interest. It certainly doesn’t provide a defeater for Christian belief.”[28]

The abstract charge of moral arbitrariness defeater (posited by Wilfred Cantwell Smith) argues that since we hold our beliefs to be true, and others hold their beliefs to be true, for us to conclude that we are somehow privileged, while they are somehow ignorant, is arrogant.  Therefore, “if S knows that others don’t believe p (and, let’s add, knows that he can’t find arguments that will persuade them of p), then S should not believe p.”[29] Plantinga disarms this potential defeater by exposing this view to be self-reverentially inconsistent and arguing that this charge is implausible. To show this he uses the example of lying about one’s colleagues to advance one’s career: “if I try my level best to ascertain the truth here—and it still seems to me sleazy, despicable, wrong to lie about my colleagues to advance my career, could I really be doing something immoral in continuing to believe as before? I can’t see how.”[30] If an individual were to, likewise, examine his or her own religious beliefs in the light of pluralism, and still come out maintaining his or her beliefs, how could this be wrong? Therefore, Plantinga concludes, “I can’t see how the moral charge against exclusivism can be sustained, and if it can’t, this charge does not provide a defeater for Christian belief.”[31]

The concrete charge of moral arbitrariness is posited by Gary Gutting.  He argues that there is a moral problem with the believer who holds to his/her own views when others disagree with him/her but doesn’t have any valid argument for his/her own views.[32] Plantinga once again dismisses the potential defeater: “If something like the extended Aquinas/Calvin model…is in fact correct, then there is a significant difference between the epistemic situation of those who accept Christian belief and those who do not; the objector is therefore assuming, unjustifiable and without argument, that neither that model nor any other according to which there is a source of warranted Christian belief is in fact correct ant that there is no such source for Christian belief.  That assumption has nothing to be said for it; the arbitrariness charge therefore disintegrates.”[33]

Balthasar’s Offense

Plantinga’s arguments are compelling, providing a solid defense against the pluralist attack.  Balthasar, however, takes a more offensive (not in the sense of being rude) approach.  Together, the two approaches complement one another.  To take a more offensive tack, Christianity has a trump-card that no other religion has—the Incarnation.  Millard Erickson, evangelical elder-statesman, writes: “Pluralism seems clearly to be threatened, however, by the traditional doctrine of the incarnation. For as usually understood, that doctrine proclaims that God’s presence and activity in Jesus were radically different from his presence and activity in other human beings. Thus, the way to contact with God must be through faith in Jesus and conversion to Christianity.”[34] And Balthasar’s formulation of Christianity is radically incarnational—so perhaps his epistemology and apology will not only stand up under scrutiny, but present a challenge to other religious beliefs as well.  No doubt, there are many gems of insight in the work of Balthasar.  I will examine three.

The Uniqueness of Christ. Jesus distinguishes himself from all other religious founders by saying that he is the historical form of the eternal God…God in flesh.  Balthasar writes, “Christ…as a historical form, demands faith for himself: this is something which no religious founder or thinker or artist could ever or will ever do as long as he understands himself to be obedient to the eternal Light.”[35] Christ, unlike other religious leaders and founders, does not point to something beyond himself, he points to himself.  Raymond Gawronski, SJ, teacher of theology at Marquette University, comments upon this idea further: “This claim of Jesus, the ‘I am’ claims…is without analogy in all of the history of religion.”[36]  Jesus’ uniqueness doesn’t lend itself to pluralist thinking.  While his uniqueness doesn’t necessarily argue for Christianity directly, it does undermine the assumption of pluralism that all religions have a shared essence.  One is forced to either agree or disagree with Jesus. 

The Theology of the Word.  “No human being ever creates his own language.  He receives it as a gift, even though once received, the gift can be infinitely enriched through human creativity.  But if no human being as such is able to create the word which makes dialogue possible, how is language possible at all?...The human being can only presuppose the word, the bond of communication.  In Balthasar’s opinion, only a theological answer can resolve the question.  Language is possible because man participates in the divine Logos. Language is a gift of the gods.”[37]  To Balthasar, the only way that man can participate in the divine Logos is through the Incarnation. In the hypostatic union, humanity and divinity participated in each other’s nature, thus providing a way for humanity to participate in the communicative bond of the Triune God (Balthasar argues that the Incarnation reaches backwards in time, so the objection that language existed before Jesus isn’t a serious defeater to him).  Therefore, we have a logical claim for the exclusiveness of Christianity.

Jesus, the Concrete-Universal.  Another philosophical dilemma is resolved in the Incarnation: the dichotomy between the universal and the singular.  “Every attempt at synthesis seems to founder on the irreducible tension between the two poles which constitute every finite being.  Whatever is has an essence which, as such, is universal.  The individual being participates in the universality of the essence.  At the same time an essence never exists as such but must always be embodied in a concrete singular.  Within the realm of our creaturely experience we know that this tension remains irresolvable.”[38]  Balthasar argues that only Christianity finds the solution to this problem of philosophy.  Jesus, the Incarnate Logos, is both the Totality (Being itself) and concrete singular.  It is only through this man, Jesus of Nazareth that we can come to know Being, God.  Therefore, we have a logical claim for the exclusiveness of Christianity.

Conclusion

Even with the strength of these arguments, Balthasar would still say that they aren’t proofs of the Christian religion.  He wasn’t against reason, but he didn’t believe that reasons could compel and convince.  Logic can dialogue with the faith, but only the life of the holy person can compel and convince.  “[Balthasar] would hold that no theology can really be an apology for an incarnate religion: the apology for Christianity is its saints, those who hear the Word and bear fruit in the world.  Their hearing of the Word and how they respond sheds new light on dogmas of the faith: they live the dogmas.  Again, to see the Christian message, to understand the secret of Christianity, requires no initiation into or mystical experience: it is sufficient to look at the work of Mother Theresa, and then one sees in the flesh someone who in the world today is letting God ‘say’ with her life that which God was saying in Christ Jesus.”[39]

To state it again: “Jesus has no need of apologetics [of the conventional sort]: he shines through.  He shines upon everyone who comes into the world (Jn 1:9) and does not deliberately look away.  The Church should not pursue any apologetics for herself, but should instead endeavor to make her Lord visible; and since the Church joins the gospel so closely to Jesus, she will succeed in this endeavor only by striving to reach the point where she will herself shine through.”[40]  So here is our challenge.  And with this are we left with a commission.  We must take up the endeavor to “shine through.” Hans Urs von Balthasar’s apology of holiness is quite compelling.  And if we are to take it seriously, we need to embrace holiness.  This is the beauty and challenge of Balthasar’s work—a work that demands more reflection.


Selected Bibliography

 

Balthasar, Hans Urs von. Word and Revelation. New York: Herder and Herder, 1964.

________. The God Question and Modern Man. New York: Seabury Press, 1967.

________. A Theological Anthropology. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1968.

________. Elucidations. London: S. P. C. K., 1975.

________. The von Balthasar Reader. New York: Crossroad, 1982.

________. New Elucidations. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986.

________. Explorations in Theology: Vol. 1, The Word Made Flesh. San Francisco: Ignatius

            Press, 1989.

________. Explorations in Theology: Vol. 4, Spirit and Institution. San Francisco: Ignatius

            Press, 1995.

________. The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics. Vol. 1, Seeing the Form. San

            Francisco New York: Ignatius Press Crossroad Publications, 1983.

________. Theo-Drama: Theological Dramatic Theory. Vol. 2, Dramatis Personae: Man in

            God. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1990.

Chesterton, G. K. The Everlasting Man. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993.

Delaney, C. F. Rationality and Religious Belief. Edited by C. F. Delaney. Notre Dame Studies in

            the Philosophy of Religion. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1979.

Dyrness, William A. Visual Faith Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue. Engaging Culture.

            Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2001.

Erickson, Millard J. The Word Became Flesh. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1991.

Gawronski, Raymond. Word and Silence Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Spiritual Encounter

            Between East and West. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 1995.

Harrison, Victoria S., “Putnam’s Internalism and von Balthasar’s Epistemology,” International

            Journal for Philosophy of Religion. 44 (1998): 67-92.

Harrison, Victoria S., “Human Holiness as Religious Apologia,” International Journal for

            Philosophy of Religion. 46 (1999): 63-82.

Hastings, Adrian. ed. The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought.  New York: Oxford Press,

            2000. S.v. "Hans Urs von Balthasar," by Edward T. Oakes, SJ.

Helm, Paul. Faith and Understanding. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub., 1997.

McIntosh, Mark Allen. Christology from Within Spirituality and the Incarnation in Hans Urs

von Balthasar. Studies in Spirituality and Theology. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1996.

Nichols, Aidan. The Word Has Been Abroad a Guide Through Balthasar’s Aesthetics.

            Introduction to Hans Urs von Balthasar. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of

            America Press, 1998.

________. Say It is Pentecost a Guide Through Balthasar’s Logic. Washington, D.C.: Catholic

            University of America Press, 2001.

O’Donnell, John. Hans Urs von Balthasar.  Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1992.

O’Hanlon, Gerard F. The Immutability of God in the Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar.

            Cambridge [England] New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Peterson, Michael L., ed. Philosophy of Religion Selected Readings.  New York: Oxford

            University Press, 2001.

Plantinga, Alvin. Warranted Christian Belief. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Scola, Angelo. Hans Urs von Balthasar a Theological Style. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B.

            Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1995.

Schindler, David L. (Ed.). Hans Urs von Balthasar: His Life and Work. San Francisco: Ignatius

Press, 1991.



[1] Mark Allen McIntosh, Christology from Within Spirituality and the Incarnation in Hans Urs von Balthasar. Studies in Spirituality and Theology (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1996).

[2] Henri de Lubac, “A Witness of Christ in the Church: Hans Urs von Balthasar”, in David L. Shindler (Ed.), Hans Urs von Balthasar: His Life and Work, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991), 272.

[3] Adrian Hastings, ed. The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought (New York: Oxford Press, 2000), s.v. "Hans Urs von Balthasar," by Edward T. Oakes, SJ.

[4] Aidan Nichols, The Word Has Been Abroad a Guide Through Balthasar’s Aesthetics. Introduction to Hans Urs von Balthasar (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1998), xiii.

[5] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Seeing the Form: vol. 1 of The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics. (San Francisco New York: Ignatius Press Crossroad Publications, 1983), 229.

[6] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Dramatis Personae: Man in God, vol. 2 of Theo-Drama: Theological Dramatic Theory. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990), 126.

[7] Ibid., 171-176.

[8] Ibid., 24.

[9] Ibid., 255.

[10] David B. Burrell, “Religious Belief and Rationality,” In C. F. Delaney (Ed.), Rationality and Religious Belief, Notre Dame Studies in the Philosophy of Religion (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1979), 100.

[11] Victoria S. Harrison , “Human Holiness as Religious Apologia,” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 46 (1999): 72-73.

[12] Ibid., 78.

[13] Alvin Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 256.

[14] Ibid., 243.

[15] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Seeing the Form, 175-176.

[16] Ibid., 406.

[17] Alvin Plantinga, 243-244.

[18] Ibid., 323.

[19] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Seeing the Form, 224-225.

[20] Victoria S. Harrison , “Putnam’s Internalism and von Balthasar’s Epistemology,” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 44 (1998): 69.

[21] Alvin Plantinga, 256.

[22] Ibid., 284.

[23] David B. Burrell, 106.

[24] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Seeing the Form, 214.

[25] Ibid., 214.

[26] Ibid., 215.

[27] Ibid., 169-170.

[28] Alvin Plantinga, 442.

[29] Ibid., 446.

[30] Ibid., 447.

[31] Ibid., 447.

[32] Ibid., 449.

[33] Ibid., 455.

[34] Millard J. Erickson, The Word Became Flesh (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1991), 291-292.

[35] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Seeing the Form, 168.

[36] Raymond Gawronski, Word and Silence: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Spiritual Encounter Between East and West (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 1995), 105.

[37] John O’Donnell, Hans Urs von Balthasar (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1992), 49.

[38] Ibid., 52.

[39] Raymond Gawronski, 221.

[40] Hans Urs von Balthasar, New Elucidations (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), 19.

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