January 25, 2011
'God speaks God, and creation occurs within that speaking, as a rhetorical embellishment, a needless ornament' - [luominen kauneutena ja retoriikkana - David Bentley Hart kalvinistien pahennuksena]
'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'.
Hart positively detests Calvin’s picture of God as 'the omnipotent despot … who not only ordains the destiny of souls, but in fact predestines the first sin and so brings the whole drama of creation and redemption to pass (including the eternal perdition of the vast majority of humanity) as a display of his own dread sovereignty'.
If you are not familiar with Hart, you should be. Why? Well consider that his first book [The Beauty of the Infinite, 2003] received the following commendations: “David Hart is already the best living American systematic theologian” – John Milbank; “A remarkable work…This magnificent and demanding volume should establish David Bentley Hart, around the world no less than in North America, as one of his generation’s leading theologians” – Geoffrey Wainwright; “I can think of no more brilliant work by an American theologian in the past ten years” – William Placher.
The Beauty of the Infinite is a splendid extended essay in “theological aesthetics.” David Bentley Hart here meditates on the power of a Christian understanding of beauty and sublimity to rise above the violence — both philosophical and literal — characteristic of the postmodern world.
The book begins by tracing the shifting use and nature of metaphysics in the thought of Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Lyotard, Derrida, Deleuze, Nancy, Levinas, and others. Hart pays special attention to Nietzsche’s famous narrative of the “will to power” — a narrative largely adopted by the world today — and he offers an engaging revision (though not rejection) of the genealogy of nihilism, thereby highlighting the significant “interruption” that Christian thought introduced into the history of metaphysics.
This discussion sets the stage for a retrieval of the classic Christian account of beauty and sublimity, and of the relation of both to the question of being. Written in the form of a dogmatica minora, this main section of the book offers a pointed reading of the Christian story in four moments, or parts: Trinity, creation, salvation, and eschaton. Through a combination of narrative and argument throughout, Hart ends up demonstrating the power of Christian metaphysics not only to withstand the critiques of modern and postmodern thought but also to move well beyond them.
Strikingly original and deeply rewarding, The Beauty of the Infinite is both a constructively critical account of the history of metaphysics and a compelling contribution to it.
D. B. Hartin teologia on haastavaa luettavaa ainakin reformoidun kristinuskon perillisille - kuten nyt tälle Laura Smit'ille, joka on Assistant Professor of Theology at Calvin College - http://www.laurasmit.com/
The Beauty Of The Infinite: The Aesthetics Of Christian Truth
God’s impassibility [apatheia]is the utter fullness of an intimate dynamism, the absolutely complete and replete generation of the Son and procession of the Spirit from the Father, the infinite “drama” of God’s joyous act of self-outpouring – which is his being as God.
Within the plenitude of this motion, no contrary motion can fabricate an interval of negation, because it is the infinite possibility of every creaturely motion or act; no pathos is possible for God because a pathos is, by definition, a finite instance of change visited upon a passive subject, actualizing some potential, whereas God’s love is pure positivity and pure activity.
His love is an infinite peace and so needs no violence to shape it, no death over which to triumph: if it did, it would never be ontological peace but only metaphysical armistice (p. 167).
Creation’s “series,” its [akolouthia] (vide infra), is at an infinite distance from the “order” and “succession” of the divine taxis, but that distance is born of God’s boundlessness: the Trinity’s perfect act of difference also opens the possibility of the “ontico-ontological difference,” as the space of the gift of analogous being, imparted to contingent beings who, then, receive this gift as the movement of an ontic deferral.
God’s transcendence is not absence, that is, but an actual excessiveness; it is, from the side of the contingent, the impossibility of the finite ever coming to contain or exhaust the infinite; the soul must participate in it successively or endlessly traverse it, “outstretched” by a desire without sucrease, an “infinition” of love; but God pervades all things, and all is present to his infinite life. Because the difference between God and creation is not simple metaphysical distinction between reality and appearance, but the analogical distance between two ways of apprehending the infinite – God being the infinite, creatures embracing it in an endless sequence of finite instances – the soul’s ascent to God is not a departure from, but an endless venture into, difference.
The distance between God and creation is not alienation, nor the Platonic chorismos or scale of being, but the original ontological act of distance by which every ontic interval subsists, given to be crossed but not overcome, at once God’s utter transcendence and utter proximity; for while the finite belongs to the infinite, the converse cannot be so, except through an epektasis toward more of the good, which can be possessed only ecstatically; possessed, that is, in dispossession (pp. 193-194).
God’s transcendence is the supereminent fullness of all blessings, which gives analogical expression to itself in creation: God sets it at a distance – and so it is created – but is himself the infinite distance that measures out all its differences within the abundant harmony of trinitarian peace.
As Trinity, his is always somehow a determinate infinity, so that each thing’s determinateness is actually an advance “quantitatively” toward the fullness of the infinite he is; but each thing is also always at that qualitative distance that makes it free, determinate, finite, pleasure, and gift. Indeed, the infinite qualitative difference is, in a sense, an effect of the infinite quantitative distance: not, that is, because God is simply the coincidence of every series (in a pantheistic sense), but because he is the infinite in which every series moves, and lives, and has its being.
For Gregory [of Nyssa], therefore, the always remaining infinity is not simply the interval between created and divine natures (statically conceived), but is the ever new infinity of the ever present God in distance, and the infinite dynamism of one nature being transformed toward another. This is so because divine infinity is that infinity, full of form, that belongs to the Trinity, whose unity is also a differentiating love (p. 210, emphasis added).
[Gregorios Nyssalainen on Hartin ehkä tärkein teologinen lähde ja innoittaja]