Hans Urs von Balthasar - Spiritus Creator - Skizzen zur Theologie III

Spiritus Creator. Skizzen zur Theologie III Creator Spirit. Explorations in Theology III

This third volume of Explorations in Theology circles around the theme of the “Holy Spirit”. . . . The Holy Spirit is certainly, on the one hand, the Spirit who holds sway between Christ and the Church . . . but he is also the Creator Spirit who goes forth from the unity of Christ and the Church (as from the eternal unity of Father and Son) and is thereby the opening-up of the unity in love between bride and bridegroom to something new, to the child, to the world of creation, and today this means also (indeed, precisely) to the non-Christian secular world. We experience every day the fact that such an opening-up can also signify danger for men who are sheltered within the Church, if they are suddenly to be confronted, without sufficient preparation, with all the secularity that bursts in broad floods through the opened dams into the Church; and this danger is certainly not decreasing. This is why some of the studies in the present volume have a new character; they seek to concentrate the Christian message, to indicate the center that cannot be abandoned, to make it secure and to give an introduction to it from all sides and from all the points on the periphery, in the school of the Spirit who does not carry out his task in the dispensation of salvation in any other way than by proceeding to interpret the message about the One who became man, was crucified and rose to ever-new generations in a creatively new form, and by schooling these generations in this message.

From the author’s Preface


Movement toward God
The Faith of the Simple Ones
Two Modes of Faith

The Unknown Lying beyond the Word
The Holy Spirit as Love
Improvisation on Spirit and Future
Spirit, Love, Contemplation
The Mass, a Sacrifice of the Church?
The Council of the Holy Spirit
Truth and Life

The Gospel as Norm and Critique of All Spirituality in the Church
Encountering God in Today’s World
Forgetfulness of God and Christians
Immediacy to God
Secular Piety?
Summa Summarum

Tragedy and Christian Faith
Bertolt Brecht: the Question about the Good
Georges Bernanos: Hell and Joy
Reinhold Schneider and the Tragic Christian

Through Closed Doors
On a Poem by Eichendorff
The Farewell Trio
Prayer for the Spirit

It is certainly true that the Church is directed to proclaim the message of Christ to all peoples and all ages (“until the end of the world”), and this means that this must take place in a form that is comprehensible to the peoples and the ages and that takes account of their language and way of thinking and of the contemporary problems in each case. Thus the Church must “keep up with the times”: she cannot proclaim the truth today as if we still lived in the age of Thomas Aquinas or Bellarmine or any other past age one might mention. But the criterion of the vitality of the Church is nevertheless not in the least the criterion of “openness to the time” but the criterion of the analogia fidei, in which the living faith is assigned by God the task of faith that falls to it from kairos to kairos. This is true of the individual, and it is equally true of the Church. The kairos of saints with a particular task ought often to coincide with the kairos of the Church, but the sluggishness of the official dimension allows the saint often only a long time post festum to come into his own, so that no one mounts the chariot on which the Church ought to have ridden. Thus there are often terrible delays in the journeying of the Church, and one can wonder whether it is at all possible to make up the time that has been lost; presumably this is not possible in this aeon. The Church often underestimates her prophetic function: in a manner that is genuinely Greek and somewhat forgetful of the Old Covenant, she equates eschatological with timeless, oriented to eternity, and then compensates with secular, political-social activism for what is lacking. But Jesus always demanded that his disciples should speak out of the Spirit who inspires them with the correct word for every situation. He himself always acted, spoke and judged as he had seen and heard from the Father and as the Father had shown him. It belongs to Christ alone to decide to what extent he wishes to draw from the treasury of the grace won by his suffering to counter and overcome the delays caused by the official hierarchical principle and to what extent Jerusalem will be glorified or put to shame in the judgment in the presence of the peoples.

From “Through Closed Doors”