What is the problem, and what is the solution? How do terms “cosmological” and “anthropological” fit in. For, if we cannot verify God’s Sign in terms of the world or in terms of man,...
What is the problem, and what is the solution? How do terms “cosmological” and “anthropological” fit in.
For, if we cannot verify God’s Sign in terms of the world or in terms of man, then what else do we have? … There is no text that offers a “foundation” for God’s text, making it legible and intelligible, or perhaps we should say more legible and more intelligible. It must interpret itself, and this is what it wishes to do. If it should so, then there is one thing we can be sure of from the outset: it will not consist in anything that man could have figured out about the world, about himself, and about God, on his own… (50)
This beautiful analysis of the nature of religion, touching on rationality vs. faith, but dealing most thoroughly with the idea of “God’s love”, is an example of how philosophy tries to bridge the gap between them (rationality and faith). Urs von Balthasar is saying that, unlike mere “literature” or even folklore, the “directions” in the Bible are not subject to a rational “source” or “origin.” He advocates instead, a “Theological aesthetic” which is a key to the essence of the man/God relationship, “And God so loved the world…” It is the overpowering (to him) evidence of our very existence that demonstrates His love for us, and therefore precludes all human “proofs” and evidence-searching, leaving faith as the only real “proof” required. Like any complex theological/epistemological state, his work defies simple paraphrasing. Urs von Balthasar is building on John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux, and several Christian saints such as Thomas Acquinas and Francis de Sales, all of whom considered rational “explanations” of God” (both cosmological—seeing an explanation in the vastness of space, "in terms of the world"—and anthropological, "in terms of man"—thinking that God is available by studying Man as a biological species in history) to be fruitless. So his work is about the problem of Man's desire to know God, and the solution is to acknowledge His love without "understanding Him (Sometimes this kind of inquiry is referred to as "epistomology," the study of "ways of knowing.")