More on Hans urs von Balthasar and Sergei Bulgakov

Two books I am reading right now:  HuvB’s Cosmic Liturgy: The Universe According to Maximus the Confessor and Bulgakov’s The Lam of God.  An underlying problem in both books (and in Christology in general) is how to solve “3rd term aporias.”  In other words, how do find a middle ground between the two natures of Christ (or between God and creation or between the persons of the Trinity) that prevents “autonomy” on one hand and introducing yet a new term on the other.  And Balthasar often uses “Sophia-like” language to solve the problem–and I am in full agreement with him.

Bulgakov became famous (infamous?) for his Sophiology.  Many thought he went pagan.  (While I disaprove of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ heterodoxy, his comment on the condemnations of Bulgakov are telling:  “They responded to Sophia the way the Greeks responded to Paul’s preaching on Anastasis–he is preaching a new goddess!).

At one point in Cosmic Liturgy Balthasar devotes several pages to attacking Bulgakov and Russia with all his might.  It’s weird, actually.  It’s obvious that his knowledge of Bulgakov is from 2nd hand sources. I think he would agree with most of it.  And then he goes on a weird rant on how eastern and Russian mysticism (exemplified by Bulgakov) led to Soviet terror.  I mean, I really don’t have a response to this except to, likewise, hit below belt back at him:  Balthasar is German-ish and wrote in the 1930s and 1940s and he liked Hegel; therefore, Balthasar’s writing led to Hitler!  Two can play at this game.

But to be more fair to Balthasar than he is to Bulgakov, Balthasar’s discussion of “natures” and “Hypostasis” scores big time.



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