Double and reciprocal ekstasis in doing theology


In clarifying the notion of doing theology (particularly in relation to aesthetics) Hans Urs von Balthasar suggests,

…no theological perception is possible outside the lux tuae claritatis and outside the grace that allows us to see, a grace which already belongs objectively to rapture and which subjectively may be said at least to initiate man’s transport to God. In theology, there are no ‘bare facts’ which, in the name of an alleged objectivity of detachment, disinterestedness and impartiality, one could establish like any other worldly facts, without oneself being (both objectively and subjectively) gripped so as to participate in the divine nature (participatio divinae naturae). For the object with which we are concerned is man’s participation in God which, from God’s perspective, is actualized as ‘revelation’ (culminating in Christ’s God manhood) and which, from man’s perspective, is actualized as ‘faith’ (culminating in participation in Christ’s God manhood). This double and reciprocal ekstasis—God’s ‘venturing forth’ to man and man’s to God—constitutes the very content of dogmatics, which may thus rightly be presented as a theory of rapture: the admirabile commercium et conubium between God and man in Christ as Head and Body.

If this is true, Balthasar asserts that there is a remaining intrinsic connection between fundamental theology and dogmatic theology. Fundamental theology is not left behind, but

the facts of revelation are perceived initially in the light of grace, and faith grows in such a way that it allows the self-evidence of these factsto continue to unfold according to its own laws and principles. In this manner, through the growth of the mysteries of faith, for which I can provide no evidence of my own, the image in which God initially appeared and illumined me deepens and acquires traits that reveal new and even deeper aspects of its rightness.

Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics I: Seeing the Form (trans. Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis; San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2009), 122.

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