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Balthasar, Hans Urs von

Balthasar, Hans Urs von (1905–88). Roman Catholic theologian. In 1969, he was appointed to the International Theological Commission, and in 1988 was nominated to be a cardinal but died before this could be put into effect. As a philosophical theologian, von Balthasar emphasized the necessary openness of human nature to exploration and creativity. In his Herrlichkeit: Eine theologische Asthetik (Eng. tr., The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics, 1982, 1984, 1986), he insisted on the importance of the form which is more than the sum of its parts: to perceive the beauty of an object or of a harmony is to grasp the wholeness of it which is never exhausted. Thus God reveals himself, not simply in truth and goodness, but as beauty. Here is the perfected form of love, which is so urgent in its self-giving that it draws the one who contemplates it into a corresponding act of unreserved giving. On this basis, von Balthasar completed his massive trilogy with his Theodramatik (1973, 1976, 1978) and Theologik (1985, 1985, 1987): because God has dramatically expressed his love and displayed his glory in his Son, so we can know that he has spoken a definitive word of truth.

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