Balthasar: unity of objective and subjective truth

“If the Church remains conscious that she has been sent out by Christ, then the only norm to which she may adhere when addressing a new epoch is the Holy Spirit, who is the Lord of all the transpositions of the Christian message. It is therefore not possible for a dogmatically essential difference to exist between a ‘dogmatic’ and a ‘pastoral’ declaration of the Church’s Magisterium. This cannot lie in the distinction between theoretical truth and practical-existential truth, because ... it is no more possible for such a distinction to exist in the Church than it is for such a distincton to exist in the Holy Spirit, who is the objective witness only by being the subjective act of carrying-out, or than it is for such a distinction to exist in Jesus Christ, who is the presentation of the divine, triune truth only in the obedient love that goes unto death, or than in God himself, who is truth precisely to the extent that he is the disclosure of the absolute mutual gift of self.”

—Hans Urs von Balthasar, Creator Spirit: Explorations in Theology III, trans. Brian McNeil, C.R.V. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993), 275.


Shane said…
I liked this quote a lot, but I'll have to spend a lot more time thinking about it. Tell me, who do you think he is responding to here?
D.W. Congdon said…
There are probably a few targets. First, he states on the opposing page that "there is no purely theoretical truth." This is the most obvious target. Balthasar wants to affirm that dogmatics is ethics and believing is doing. We don't have the freedom to divide truth from life, hence the name of the chapter/essay in which this quote appears is "Truth and Life." Second, people often associate Father and Son with the objective side of faith and the Spirit with the subjective side. Balthasar argues that this is far too simplistic. The Spirit is part of the objective reality, just as Father and Son are bearers of a subjective reality. So the other half of Balthasar's argument is that the doctrine of the Trinity must inform our understanding of truth and life.
Halden said…
I think another major thing that's operating in Balthasar's thought here is the close connection he draws between the work of the Spirit and the church's Magisterium. Balthasar's ecclesiology is thoroughly Catholic. Thus, of course we can expect that for him, the work of the Spirit is going to be every bit as objective as the reality of the visible church.