The Incarnation as understood by Balthasar

hans_urs_von_balthasar.gifThere has been recently an excellent blog conference on the person of Hans Ur Von Balthasar, and as a result I would like to take some time here at Kingdom Conversations to talk about Balthasar’s understanding of the incarnation. Balthasar begins his commentary of the incarnation in his book A Theology of History with John 6:38, “It is the will of him who sent me, not my own will, that I have come down from heaven to do.” From this Balthasar deduces that “the meaning of the incarnation, of Jesus’ manhood, is first borne in upon as as a not-doing, a not-fulfilling, a not-carrying out of his own will. The first thing which strikes us is therefore a negative thing; but which serves it is a still more profound positive thing…to do the will of the father” (p. 29).

While we can think of this as a proper relationship between God the Father and God the son, Balthasar notes that Jesus’ “communion with the Father is not merely like that of a human son with the one who has begotten him—simply a communion in their common human nature—but is a communion in the eternally uninterrupted act…in which he receives himself…the entire will of the Father concerning God and the world, and assents to it as his own” (p. 31). In another, “Christ’s mode of time is an expression of the fact that he renounces sovereignty over his own existence. But as a whole and in all its details, that existence is to become a monument to the Father in the world” (p. 51).

Balthasar’s thoughts are also important for the Christian to consider. Have we totally contemplated the idea that our only purpose is to serve God the Father in spirit and in truth—in the very same vein as Jesus Christ served him. We were called, in the likeness of Christ, to also take up our crosses to follow Jesus (Matt 10:38). In America, we often speak of “inalienable rights” like they are the ultimate good, but are they? As we consider how we may conform to Christ through the spirit in order to share communion with the Triune God, have we considered the great personal sacrifice and loss that may occur as a result of our following Christ?

In this easter season I think it is important to consider such things.

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