Years ago, when I was chrismated and became a Byzantine Catholic, a friend of mine sent me a copy of Balthasar’s Presence and Thought: An Essay on the Religious Philosophy of Gregory of Nyssa as a gift to commemorate the event. When I read it, I was not impressed; it did not engage me where I was at.
Only after I read some of Henri de Lubac’s works, such as his Catholicism, would I manage to make my way back to the works of Balthasar, and read Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved? Here, at last, I was able to find a work of Balthasar’s that engaged me. It was personal, speculative, and filled with themes which I, inspired by Alexandrians like St. Clement and Origen, appreciated.
I did not know it at the time, but it would be the start of a long and serious engagement with the works of Hans Urs von Balthasar. I have found much which I appreciate of his work, especially when he writes with his own views instead of exploring the themes of others. This is not to say I accept all he said with an uncritical eye. There is much of his speculation which I think is questionable, but such concerns do not undermine his brilliance nor his importance in contemporary theology. His call towards a restoration of the application of beauty in theology will have a long-lasting impact on theology for years to come.
While Dare We Hope might be the most famous of Balthasar’s eschatological explorations, it was written as an apology for his view, as a simple presentation explaining why we can and should hope that all might be saved without knowing whether or not this would be the case. Many have only read this work, commenting upon Balthasar’s eschatological views knowing only the simple presentation he gave within it. Since his goal was not to explain perdition, but to defend his hope, it is easy to see why the work could lead people to believe Balthasar was a universalist, trying to hide his universalism through theological spin.
I am proud to say my book has now been published by Pickwick Publications at Wipf and Stock: The Eschatological Judgment of Christ: The Hope of Universal Salvation and the Fear of Eternal Perdition in the Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar. It is now available on Wipf and Stock, and should soon be available on Amazon and elsewhere for your consideration.
In my book, I have explored and examined Balthasar’s true eschatological views. Hopefully, it will serve as a corrective, helping to bring Balthasar’s full understanding of salvation and perdition into the open. That way, the strengths and weaknesses of his position can be studied and debated instead of the assumed position which he did not take.
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