Thursday, June 9, 2011
'Beauty of the Infinite' - Review
On top of this mini-revelation are Hart's own theological and philosophical contributions which -- again from my vantage as a member of the laity -- are thorough, brilliant and enlightening. Hart's discourses on the analogia entis (the 'analogy of being'), Trinitarian dogmatics and the aesthetics of Christian truth particularly opened my mind just what it is that fundamentally differentiates Christian thought from other forms of thought, and the radical possibilities that open up as a result.
Specifically, the notion of the supremacy of surfaces and rhetoric (over and against 'essences' and 'dialectic') in Christian thought was something I had never fully grasped and which this text clarified for me. That the 'form' of Christ -- in all his particularity and beauty -- is fundamentally everything that Christianity has to offer. And how contrasting this style of thought to both the reductionist tendencies of modernity, as well as the nihilistic totalizing of postmodernity, reveals how Christian thought can accept that it is a kind of rhetoric, only one without peer.
This elevation of rhetoric -- the rhetoric of the Father as incarnate in Christ -- leads directly into the idea that Being is an expression of the Trinitarian God, as opposed to it being a 'univocal' expression. I had never fully considered the consequences of this. For if Creation is a truthful expression of its Creator then that Creation should express certain characteristics in its very fabric, and a 'univocal' expression of being would be very different from a Trinitarian expression. The Trinity possesses an internal dynamism, a life, an intrinsic grace, and when this conception of God is analogized to Creation, Creation should take on a certain form which also contains an irreducible dynamism.
This is a very inadequate summary of some aspects of Hart's arguments, but hopefully you get the general idea. This understanding of Christian truth was a revelation for me as the implications of this understanding have actually proved to be quite extensive. For anyone with any theological or philosophical training, Beauty of the Infinite is essential reading. For any lay person with a fairly intense intellectual curiosity and dogged persistence, the text can prove extremely rich and rewarding as well.