Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Friday, July 20, 2012

God's Glory Appears: Loving God in Neighbor

VON BALTHASAR LINKS LOVE OF GOD and love of neighbor to such an extent that any love of neighbor is implicitly a love of God. This aspect of von Balthasar's thought seems to be another naturalization or Christian charity arising from his rejection of traditional formulae regarding nature/supernature and nature/grace. Von Balthasar "does not make an explicit vertical reference to God a necessary condition of every act of Christian love."  Steck, 114. Therefore, the love of neighbor is a form of worship of God.  One must suppose he thinks that service of neighbor is equivalent to the Mass.

This linkage between love of God and love of neighbor distinguishes Christian love from mere humanitarianism; however, the specific Christian contribution seems extrinsic inasmuch as it results from the Christian's awareness that there is such a link.  As we saw in our last posting, von Balthasar appears to believe that any "struggle against injustice and to bring about justice in the world"--which presumably includes an act of love of neighbor--is ipso facto linked with "the God of revelation and of love and grace, whether he knows it or not."

The love of neighbor almost takes a precedence over the love of God.  Like Karl Rahner, von Balthasar seems to immanentize the love of God by equalizing it with love of neighbor.  This equivalency results in a sort of confusion of genera.  Oppression of neighbor is equated with idolatry; they are "interchangeable terms."  GL6.316.  Though perhaps von Balthasars is less eager than Rahner to raise the love of neighbor to primacy, there is a sort of auto-religious link between love of neighbor and love of God.  There is therefore a "synthesis of the two commandments," the result of the "economy of salvation," something that has not "always and everywhere been the case," but something that is the result of Christ's mission.

"Christ has given 'endless value to the human 'Thou,'" and this assumption of humanity into the Son of God through the incarnation "makes it possible for Christians to love God in loving neighbor."  Steck, 114-15 (quoting GL7.441)

Relative to Rahner, von Balthasar appears to resist a wholesale conflation between love of God and love of neighbor.  "[T]his love for God for the neighbor occurs as Christians come to see in the neighbor the God whom they have met in Jesus Christ.  Thus, 'the reflective religious act' [of the love of God] cannot be secondary because it is this act that effects subjectively what God has accomplished objectively in Christ: the unity of love of God and neighbor."  Steck, 115.

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