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Damnation and the Trinity in Ratzinger and Balthasar.

Introduction: A Crucial Difference

The formative influence of the thought of Hans Urs von Balthasar on the theology of Joseph Ratzinger is common knowledge. Ratzinger pays tribute to him on more than one occasion. (1) There are two theological novelties that rush to the mind of any student attempting to characterize Balthasar's peculiar thought: (1) his doctrine of Holy Saturday, or the descent of Christ into the hell of the damned, (2) and (2) his quasi-universalist argument in favor of a theological hope for the salvation of all men. There is a third dimension of Balthasar's thought that takes up these two features into a higher plane, as it were: the infinite love of the Trinity itself is ur-kenotic. In other words, central to his theology is the dual claim that the descent of Christ into hell is the most perfect reflection of the self-surrender that constitutes the trinitarian life and that it is most fitting for the triune God to embrace (by first "undergirding") hell in all its New Testament horror (i.e., the "second death" of Rev 20-21), freely surrendering impassibility in the economy of salvation, wherein the Second Person of the Trinity "becomes sin." (3)

Ratzinger also reflects on the painful descent of Christ and its impact upon the reality of damnation, but it remains to be seen to what extent he may agree with the most radical points of Balthasar's theology and how much (or little) influence the trinitarian thought of the latter had upon him. I will assert that even if Ratzinger is likewise reticent to proclaim divine impassibility unqualifiedly, the descent for him, although understood in a very similar way to Balthasar, relates to damnation and the Trinity in a way that is fundamentally different from the way these three elements interact functionally in Balthasar's theology.

Rather than attempt to summarize Balthasar's detailed treatment of each of the terms in this relation and then develop Ratzinger's relationship to that treatment, I will briefly take up in chronological order what in each of their major works directly pertains to damnation and its relationship to the triune God. (4) It will become clear that while Balthasar's eschatological concerns cause his understanding of the triune God to center on the hellish passion of Christ and his "being-dead" on Holy Saturday, Ratzinger understands Christ's vicarious descent on the Cross in terms of the Son's economic "being-for," which proceeds from his own "being-from" the Father (and the two are one in the unifying gift of "being-with" that is the Holy Spirit). Ratzinger's trinitarian thought is therefore an ontology of relation, comprising at once a "negative theology" and a foundation for a more disciplined soteriology and eschatology than is exhibited in Balthasar. This contrast is a significant one that no one, to my knowledge, has exposed as of yet, given that many of Ratzinger's admirers also, if not primarily, consider themselves disciples of Balthasar and therefore do not wish to drive a wedge between the two thinkers. While some may want to turn a blind eye to differences between the two thinkers, it is imperative to recognize Ratzinger's theology for what it really is, namely, something entirely distinct from, even though very influenced by, the theology of his senior theological confrere and close friend, Hans Urs von Balthasar.

Ratzinger's Nuanced Relation to Balthasar's Controversial Theses

Many may not realize that not only did Balthasar's thought on these matters not receive definitive shape until the 1980s with the publication of the final volumes of the Theodramatik, but it is not at all clear that Balthasar's earliest formulations of the significance of Christ's descent preceded Ratzinger's earliest comments on the same, as is commonly assumed by those who emphasize Balthasar's influence on Ratzinger. (5) Therefore, I will turn first to Ratzinger's Introduction to Christianity before I compare its remarks to Balthasar's Mysterium Paschale. Commenting on a thought presented by Jean Danielou, (6) perhaps the source for both Ratzinger and Balthasar on this matter, he says:
   In the last analysis pain is the product and expansion of Jesus
   Christ's being stretched out from being in God right down to the
   hell of "My God, why have you forsaken me?" Anyone who has
   stretched his existence so wide that he is simultaneously immersed
   in God and in the depths of the God-forsaken creature is bound to
   be torn asunder, as it were; such a one is truly "crucified." But
   this process of being torn apart is identical with love; it is its
   realization to the extreme (Jn 13:1) and the concrete expression of
   the breadth it creates. (7)

Alluding to the "dark night" of the mystics as a participation in the suffering inherent to Christ's love, a common connection drawn by Ratzinger, he acknowledges a hell of sorts in the cry of dereliction, but his understanding of it focuses upon the person of Christ, how he is simultaneously in full communion with God's inner life and immersed in the darkness of the human sinfulness he wished to take upon himself in the passion for our sakes. The suffering embraced by Christ is an expression of God's love for us:
   The New Testament is the story of the God who of his own accord
   wished to become, in Christ, the Omega--the last letter--in the
   alphabet of creation. It is the story of the God who is himself the
   act of love, the pure "for," and who therefore necessarily puts on
   the disguise of the smallest worm (Ps 22:6 [21:7]). It is the story
   of the God who identifies himself with his creature and in this
   contineri a minimo, in being grasped and overpowered by the least
   of his creatures, displays that "excess" that identifies him as
   God. (8)

The Cross does not function here as the perfect image of God's own life, but it reveals the love God has for a sinful mankind:
   The truth about man is that he is continually assailing truth; the
   just man crucified is thus a mirror held up to man in which he sees
   himself unadorned. But the Cross does not reveal only man; it also
   reveals God. God is such that he identifies himself with man right
   down into this abyss and that he judges him by saving him. In the
   abyss of human failure is revealed the still more inexhaustible
   abyss of divine love. The Cross is thus truly the center of
   revelation, a revelation that does not reveal any previously
   unknown principles but reveals us to ourselves by revealing us
   before God and God in our midst. (9)

So, the Cross does reveal something about God, but these comments do not indicate anything about the immanent life of God (i.e., the Trinity); rather, it reveals God's loving response to man's rejection of truth, and this revealed love both judges and saves mankind.

Notice that for Ratzinger the descent of God into the "abyss" takes place on the Cross and that it does not function as a launching pad for speculation about the secret recesses of the Trinity itself, even if certainly, the triune God is love itself and the passion of Christ is a response of divine love to human sinfulness. The question remains: what is the relationship between the descent and the hell of the damned? Ratzinger answers this question in the following manner:
   The Old Testament has only one word for hell and death, the word
   sheol; it regards them as ultimately identical. Death is absolute
   loneliness. But the loneliness into which love can no longer
   advance is--hell.... This article [of the Creed] thus asserts that
   Christ strode through the gate of our final loneliness, that in his
   Passion he went down into the abyss of our abandonment. Where no
   voice can reach us any longer, there is he. Hell is thereby
   overcome, or, to be more accurate, death, which was previously
   hell, is hell no longer. Neither is the same any longer because
   there is life in the midst of death, because love dwells in it. Now
   only deliberate self-enclosure is hell or, as the Bible calls it,
   the second death (Rev 20:14, for example). But death is no longer
   the path into icy solitude; the gates of sheol have been opened.

Christ has done the impossible of separating death from hell; he suffered the depths of human loneliness and abandonment, but "the second death" replaces the hell that existed prior to his redemptive work--the hell due those who finally reject God's love is not embraced by Christ, but is rather a possibility consequent to his triumph over the hell that is death. (11) However, it is not this simple--there is a tension present in Ratzinger's thought where he appears to say something closer to what Balthasar will claim later:
   This article of the Creed turns our gaze to the depths of human
   existence, which reach down into the valley of death, into the zone
   of untouchable loneliness and rejected love, and thus embrace the
   dimension of hell, carrying it within themselves as one of their
   own possibilities. Hell, existence in the definitive rejection of
   "being for," is not a cosmographical destination but a dimension of
   human nature, the abyss into which it reaches at its lower end. We
   know today better than ever before that everyone's existence
   touches these depths.... Christ, the "new Adam," undertook to bear
   the burden of these depths with us and did not wish to remain
   sublimely unaffected by them; conversely, of course, total
   rejection in all its unfathomability has only now become possible.

Thus, "definitive rejection of 'being for'" is a fundamental dimension of every man's existence and the abyss into which Love descends in the form of Christ's passion, but even though God lets himself be affected by our rejection of his love (our resistance to his grace), it is this divine act of vulnerability that makes "total rejection" (definitive refusal) of God truly possible. Perhaps, he wants to say that prior to Christ man could issue final refusal of God's love and that this refusal, which affects every man as part of the same body of humanity, is born by Christ in the descent, and yet this divine event brings about the reality of still a more profound possibility for self-exclusion from God's love.

Kenoticism in Balthasar's EarlierWork

In any case, Ratzinger's reflections here clearly do not go as far as Balthasar's in Mysterium Paschale, even if Balthasar later undermines this book as "a quickly written work" that did not fully appropriate the mystical insights of Adrienne von Speyr. (13) Rather, the latter serve to radicalize his interpretation of the descent doctrine. Relevant to the topic of the Trinity's involvement in Christ's condemnation and consequent relation to the hell of the damned, Balthasar seems to take a position directly in opposition to that of his friend, Ratzinger:
   The real object of a theology of Holy Saturday does not consist in
   the completed state which follows on the last act in the
   self-surrender of the incarnate Son to his Father--something which
   the structure of every human death, more or less ratified by the
   individual person, would entail. Rather does that object consist in
   something unique, expressed in the "realisation" of all
   Godlessness, of all the sins of the world, now experienced as agony
   and a sinking down into the "second death" or "second chaos,"
   outside of the world ordained from the beginning by God. And so it
   is really God who assumes what is radically contrary to the divine,
   what is eternally reprobated by God, in the form of the supreme
   obedience of the Son towards the Father, and, thereby, in Luther's
   words, sub contrario discloses himself in the very act of his
   self-concealment. (14)

Hence, for Balthasar there is a dialectical struggle between the loving self-surrender of Son to Father, on the one hand, and the "second death" or reprobation that man brings upon himself in rejecting such--the latter is the hell into which Christ descends in order to reveal the solidarity of God with the godless.

The redemptive incarnation for Balthasar is not merely a renunciation of divine immutability, (15) but it, more so, reflects an eternal sacrifice in the triune God:
   The truth which intervenes between [divine immutability and divine
   mutability] concerns the "Lamb slain before the foundation of the
   world" (Apocalypse 13, 8; cf. 5, 6, 9, 12). ... [The "slaying"]
   designates, rather, the eternal aspect of the historic and bloody
   sacrifice of the Cross (Apocalypse 5, 12)--as indeed Paul
   everywhere presupposes. Nevertheless what is indicated here is an
   enduring supratemporal condition of the "Lamb" ... a condition of
   the Son's existence coextensive with all creation and thus
   affecting, in some manner, his divine being. Recent Russian
   theology ... was right to give this aspect a central place ... that
   basic idea of [Bulgakov] which we agreed just now to give a central
   place high on our list of priorities. The ultimate presupposition
   of the Kenosis is the "selflessness" of the Persons (when
   considered as pure relationships) in the inner-Trinitarian life of
   love.... And since the will to undertake the redemptive Kenosis is
   itself indivisibly trinitarian. God the Father and the Holy Spirit
   are for Bulgakov involved in the Kenosis in the most serious sense:
   the Father as he who sends and abandons, the Spirit as he who
   unites only through separation and absence. (16)

The effect of such a position can be no other than precisely a strong presumption in favor of the salvation of all men since the godlessness of those who reject divine mercy is itself taken up into the kenosis of Christ, rendering such rejection a mere moment in the dialectic of love and sin, which itself functions as a most fitting expression of the original kenosis that constitutes the trinitarian life. He expresses the relationship between Trinity and hell when he states, "Christ takes the existential measure of everything that is sheerly contrary to God, of the entire object of the divine eschatological judgment, which here is grasped in that event in which it is 'cast down' (hormemati blethesetai, Apocalypse 18, 21; John 12, 31; Matthew 22, 13). But at the same time, this happening gives the measure of the Father's mission in all its amplitude: the 'exploration' of Hell is an event of the (economic) Trinity." (17) Although here he includes the qualification economic, he reports without rebuke the view of Bulgakov, which he acknowledges as indebted to "a perspective borrowed from the philosophies of Schelling and Hegel," that "the economic Trinity is 'from time immemorial assumed' in the immanent Trinity." (18) This relationship is developed in his later writings, but even here, while expressing reticence about "temptations of a Gnostic or Hegelian sort" in the "sophiological presuppositions" of Bulgakov, (19) he is, nonetheless, not shy about appropriating Russian kenoticism. Here is a glimpse into the kenotic view he adopted of the trinitarian persons:
   Lossky interprets the Kenosis as a revelation of the entire
   Trinity. This permits one to grasp how, on occasion, the thought
   arises, tentatively and obscurely, that when the Creator first made
   man the ideal Image he had in mind was the Incarnate Son as our
   Redeemer. If one takes seriously what has just been said, then the
   event of the Incarnation of the second divine Person does not leave
   the inter-relationship of those Persons unaffected. Human thought
   and human language break down in the presence of this mystery:
   namely, that the eternal relations of Father and Son are focused,
   during the "time" of Christ's earthly wanderings, and in a sense
   which must be taken with full seriousness, in the relations between
   the man Jesus and his heavenly Father, and that the Holy Spirit
   lives as their go-between who, inasmuch as he proceeds from the
   Son, must also be affected by the Son's humanity. (20)

Hence, not only the descent into hell but every redemptive act of Christ is truly a window into the trinitarian relations, as "the entire Trinity" has willed to be affected by the events of the economic order. (21)

Balthasarian Developments

After Balthasar's piece in Mysterium Salutis and before Ratzinger's Eschatologie, Balthasar published the fourth volume of his Skizzen zur Theologie (in the English, Explorations in Theology), entitled Pneuma und Institution, the concluding section of which treats the descent into hell and eschatological themes together. (22) At points in this work I notice a transition in Balthasar from understanding the descent into hell through Eastern tradition and Christology toward his own trinitarian eschatology that borders on mysticism but does not quite reach the intensity it will later under the cumulative influence of Adrienne von Speyr's life and work. (23) For example, he says: "The experience of the abyss he undergoes is both entirely in him (insofar as he comes to know in himself the full measure of the dead sinner's distance from God) as well as at the same time entirely outside of him, because what he experiences is utterly foreign to him (as the eternal Son of the Father): on Good Friday he is himself entirely alienated from himself." (24) This self-alienation begun on the Cross and culminating in his being dead on Saturday (whether the events of the two days are conceived as temporally distinct or as an existential unit celebrated in two phases) (25) certainly involves an alienation from the Father. After implying that the hell of the damned is itself taken up by Christ's descent, (26) he explains in what way this alienation plays into the relationship between Father and Son:
   The most ultimate ground of all is the Trinitarian difference
   between Father and Son: the Father's surrender of the Son and the
   Son's being surrendered in the unity of the trinitarian agreement.
   The path is one of total self-alienation, for the triad of
   death-Hades-Satan is the summation of everything that resists God's
   way, that cannot be united to God and is, as such rejected by God.
   This path is trod in "obedience" (Phil 2:7-11) to the surrendering
   will of the Father in a willingness that is itself "power" (Jn
   10:18) but which lets itself be available even in the ultimate
   powerlessness of dying and being dead. The perfect self-alienation
   of the experience of hell is the function of the incarnate Christ's
   obedience, and this obedience is once more a function of his free
   love for the Father ... this truly being dead is a function of the
   total surrender of the Son. (27)

The trinitarian move seems to be necessary in order to bolster the claim that Christ's death-descent "undergirds" and is thus capable of destroying from within any creaturely attempt to exclude oneself from the superior freedom of God's infinite love. (28) Hence, he links the Father-Son relationship to the "the farthest reaches of hell." (29) The universalist implications of his position become apparent already at this stage when he says:
   There is, on Holy Saturday, the descent of the dead Jesus into
   hell: that is (speaking very simplistically), his solidarity in
   nontime with those who have been lost to God. For these people,
   their choice is definitive, the choice whereby they have chosen
   their "I" instead of God's selfless love. Into this definitiveness
   (of death) the Son descends ... the sinner who wants to be "damned"
   by God now rediscovers God in his loneliness--but this time he
   rediscovers God in the absolute impotence of love. For now God has
   placed himself in solidarity with those who have damned themselves,
   entering into nontime in a way we could never anticipate ... even
   the battle cry "God is dead"--that self-asserting diktat of the
   sinner who is finished with God--gains a whole new meaning that God
   himself has established. Creaturely freedom is respected but is
   still overtaken by God at the end of the Passion and once more
   undergirded ("inferno profundior," as Pope Gregory the Great put
   it). Only in absolute weakness does God want to give to each
   freedom created by him the gift of a love that breaks out of every
   dungeon and dissolves every constriction: in solidarity, from
   within, with whose [sic] who refuse solidarity. (30)

Here we see an undermining of human freedom. Nevertheless, the structure of this undergirding, that is, how Christ's alienation is already somehow present in the distinction of divine persons, is not fully expressed until the Theodramatik.

Ratzinger on Hell

Before Balthasar presented his more developed soteriology, eschatology, and trinitarian theory, particularly in the Das Endspiel volume of his Theodramatik, Ratzinger published his Eschatologie:Tod und ewiges Leben in 1977. There it is clear that one of the fundamental notions pervading Ratzinger's thought, which is already present in Introduction to Christianity, (31) is that of being as relation (or the transcendentality of relatio). (32) Developing what he acknowledges as Origen's "mythological expression" on "the indestructible relation" that obtains between the lives of men and their intra-historical destination, according to which the joy of the blessed and of Christ is incomplete for as long as members of his body are "missing," Ratzinger reflects on how Christ (and the saints derivatively) fulfills the myth of the Bodhisattva:
   The nature of love is always to be "for" someone. Love cannot,
   then, close itself against others or be without them so long as
   time, and with it suffering, is real. No one has formulated this
   insight more finely than Therese of Lisieux with her idea of heaven
   as the showering down of love towards all. But even in ordinary
   human terms we can say, How could a mother be completely and
   unreservedly happy so long as one of her children is suffering? And
   here we can point once again to Buddhism, with its idea of the
   Bodhisattva, who refuses to enter Nirvana so long as one human
   being remains in hell. By such waiting, he empties hell, accepting
   the salvation which is his due only when hell has become
   uninhabited. Behind this impressive notion of Asian religiosity,
   the Christian sees the true Bodhisattva, Christ, in whom Asia's
   dream became true. The dream is fulfilled in the God who descended
   from heaven into hell, because a heaven above an earth which is
   hell would be no heaven at all. (33)

Hence, love for him is a relational category (and the person is constituted by his capacity to love), (34) which creates a problem when one is faced with the reality of damnation. He wants to indicate that God descended upon earth in order to rescue it from the darkness of rejecting love, where man lives the self-contradiction of "Sheol-existence." (35)

In his treatment of the competing streams of tradition regarding hell, he takes a stand against the proto-Hegelian tendency of Origen to lodge hell into a neat logical system, as if it were a necessary moment in the dialectic of history. (36) Opting instead for the belief in the absoluteness God grants to human freedom (or "God's unconditional respect for the freedom of his creature"), (37) in commenting upon the tendency consequent to Origen to "concede to all the lost some kind of relief from suffering--in comparison, that is, with what they really deserve," (38) his understanding of love leads him to emphasize a key difference between the redemptive work of Christ and the universalist dream of the Bodhisattva:
   What can be given to the creature, however, is love, and with this
   all its neediness can be transformed. The assent to such love need
   not be "created" by man: this is not something which he achieves by
   his own power. And yet the freedom to resist the creation of that
   assent, the freedom not to accept it as one's own, this freedom
   remains. Herein lies the difference between the beautiful dream of
   the Boddhisattva [sic] ... and its realization. The true
   Boddhisattva [sic], Christ, descends into Hell and suffers it in
   all its emptiness; but he does not, for all that, treat man as an
   immature being deprived in the final analysis of any responsibility
   for his own destiny. Heaven reposes upon freedom, and so leaves to
   the damned the right to will their own damnation. The specificity
   of Christianity is shown in this conviction of the greatness of
   man. Human life is fully serious. It is not to be natured by what
   Hegel called the "cunning of the Idea" into an aspect of divine
   planning. The irrevocable takes place, and that includes, then,
   irrevocable destruction. The Christian man or woman must live with
   such seriousness and be aware of it. It is a seriousness which
   takes on tangible form in the Cross of Christ. (39)

He does not want to vanquish all hope for the apparently lost or discourage saints from doing penance for the conversion of sinners, so the seriousness of human freedom met on the Cross is taken as a call to participate in Christ's redemption of man from Sheol. Thus, there is a certain tension in his thought between affirming the power of Christ's descent to transform hearts and the freedom of man to reject even this summit of God's love for him:
   The question also arises ... whether in this event [of the Cross]
   we are not in touch with a divine response able to draw freedom
   precisely as freedom to itself. The answer lies hidden in Jesus'
   descent into Sheol, in the night of the soul which he suffered, a
   night which no one can observe except by entering this darkness in
   suffering faith. Thus, in the history of holiness ... "Hell" has
   taken on a completely new meaning and form. For the saints, "Hell"
   is not so much a threat to be hurled at other people but a
   challenge to oneself. It is a challenge to suffer in the dark night
   of faith, to experience communion with Christ in solidarity with
   his descent into the Night. One draws near to the Lord's radiance
   by sharing his darkness. One serves the salvation of the world by
   leaving one's own salvation behind for the sake of others. In such
   piety, nothing of the dreadful reality of Hell is denied. Hell is
   so real that it reaches right into the existence of the saints.
   Hope can take it on, only if one shares in the suffering of Hell's
   night by the side of the One who came to transform our night by his
   suffering. Here hope does not emerge from the neutral logic of a
   system, from rendering humanity innocuous. (40)

Therefore, he admits the power of the Cross to draw freedom to itself, that is, the efficacy of grace offered through the redemptive work of Christ. But he does not consequently imagine the interaction between divine freedom and human freedom in terms of a power-struggle; instead, he points to the participation of those exemplifying hope (the saints) in Christ's triumph over the darkness of sin.

Balthasar and Ratzinger on Divine Suffering

While Ratzinger, even after Mysterium Paschale, does not drag the Trinity into the realm of the damned (a la Christ's descent), (41) he does in the "Afterword to the English Edition" of Eschatology compliment the final volume of Balthasar's Theodramatik, published in 1983, as "a foundational contribution to a deepening of the eschatology theme." (42) In this volume Balthasar's theory of the trinitarian processions in terms of the suffering, death, and descent of Christ becomes fully developed. Perhaps overreacting to the anthropocentric approach of Karl Rahner, (43) his opposition to the latter's identification of economic and immanent trinities, nevertheless, incorporates a qualified passibilist position. (44) For him "'economic' reality is only the expression of something 'immanent' in the Trinity," (45) and yet "The Son has been offering his sacrifice to the Father from the very beginning." (46) Since "the ontic possibility for God's self-emptying in the Incarnation and death of Jesus lies in God's eternal self-emptying in the mutual self-surrender of the Persons of the Trinity," (47) "the Judgment that takes place within the Trinity can be understood only in terms of the suffering love between Father and Son in the Spirit." (48) Hence, Balthasar seeks in the inner life of God a foundation or ground for the privative character of Christ's passion. (49) Since the descent to hell is at the center of Christ's suffering experiences, he goes so far as to say with von Speyr that "the Father allows the Son to experience the most intimate thing that he possesses: his darkness" (50) and with Ferdinand Ulrich that "pain and death are eternally the language of his glory." (51)

For Balthasar the passion, especially the cry of dereliction, provides the believer with a glimpse into the mutual self-giving that constitutes the very life of God and, particularly, reveals the distinction of persons, which flows from divine ek-stasis. He wants to affirm infinite distance between the persons as persons but maintain also their inextricable union as divine (52)--hence the "separation" between the divine persons that is experienced on the Cross becomes a "mode of union." (53) "The distance between the Persons, within the dynamic process of the divine essence, is infinite." (54) Furthermore, concerning their distinction, he says: "The Father was never more distinct, never more earnest, than at this hour of the Cross ... the distinction of the Persons has never been more clearly revealed than in the relationship between the Son who is abandoned and the Father who abandons him." (55) Not only does Christ's experience of abandonment reveal the Father and Son as distinct persons, but there is an actual rupture that occurs in the economic order and that reflects the infinite distance there is between the persons precisely as hypostatically distinct. The suffering of Christ points to something analogous within the trinitarian life: "there is nothing hypothetical about the 'pre-sacrifice' of the Son (and hence of the Trinity)." (56) Hence, "The Son's death is the exemplification of the supreme aliveness of triune love." (57)

Whereas for Balthasar, the generation of the Son occurs because the Father totally surrenders the Godhead, constituting an ur-kenosis in the immanent Trinity, Ratzinger is generally hesitant to speak, as Balthasar does, of any "interweaving of Christ's suffering and the suffering of the Trinity." (58) A notable exception to such apparent reticence are the more modest words in Behold the Pierced One: An Approach to a Spiritual Christology, where he restates Origen's bold idea that "the Father suffers in allowing the Son to suffer, and the Spirit shares in this suffering." (59) Even though he cites Balthasar's Das Ganze in Fragment for interpretation of Origen and Gregory Nazianzen, in the final footnote to this text he clarifies: "This must be made absolutely clear, lest the way be opened for a new Patripassianism, as Jorgen Moltmann seems to be proposing," a charge of which he nevertheless exonerates Balthasar's Zu einer christicher Theologie der Hoffnung (n. 11). He also indicates there his admiration for comments made in an article by Jacques Maritain on divine "com-passion," (60) which in fact provide some of the least radical reflections utilized by Balthasar as a launching pad for his own. (61)

While Ratzinger is clearly not a strict impassibilist, (62) he speaks of God as revealed in man (with Christ as the exemplar) in terms of being-for, being-from, and being-with. (63) He does subtly link theologia crucis with the revelation of the Trinity, but in a very different way from Balthasar. In the first volume of Jesus of Nazareth, he says both that John the Baptist's "reference to the Lamb of God interprets Jesus' Baptism, his descent into the abyss of death, as a theology of the Cross" (64) and that at Jesus's baptism "together with the Son, we encounter the Father and the Holy Spirit. The mystery of the Trinitarian God is beginning to emerge, even though its depths can be fully revealed only when Jesus' journey is complete." (65) Hence, he sees the entirety of Jesus's life, culminating in his resurrection and ascent, as revelation of the Trinity, but he does not presume to envision the mystery in such detail as it is relayed to Balthasar by the alleged visionary, Adrienne von Speyr. Ratzinger appears to take the interpretation he develops there of the descent through the event of Jesus's baptism from a page in Balthasar's Explorations IV, (66) which depends on Danielou's patristic research. But he skillfully weaves together the "strong man" tradition deriving from Matthew 12:29 and Luke 11: 22, a triumphant interpretation of the descent that Balthasar un dermines, (67) and the Jonah motif, which Balthasar esteems, (68) in his reflections on the descent as represented in the baptism. (69) Jesus as Lamb of God is also "the Servant of God who bears the sins of the world by his vicarious atonement.... 'By the expiatory power of his innocent death he blotted out ... the guilt of all mankind.'" (70) The harmonious balance of Ratzinger's exegesis leaps off the page. (71)

A running theme in both Balthasar's and Ratzinger's understanding of redemption is the replacing of the influential "much-coarsened version of St. Anselm's theology of atonement" (72) in the so-called satisfaction theory with emphasis on the dimension of vicarious representation in Christ's passion. (73) Ratzinger interprets Jesus's mission (action) and identity (being) in terms of pro-existence, a heuristic he attributes to Heinz Schurmann, (74) even while Balthasar attributes it to Norbert Hoffmann. (75) As early as Introduction to Christianity he expresses his reservation regarding Anselm's perspective on the redemption together with his preferred conceptualization of the redemption in terms of being-for. (76) The couplet being-for and being from come to the fore in Ratzinger's conception of how the Christological economy and the immanent life of God relate:
   The event of the crucifixion appears [in Johannine theology] as a
   process of opening, in which the scattered man-monads are drawn
   into the embrace of Jesus Christ, into the wide span of his
   outstretched arms, in order to arrive, in this union, at their
   goal, the goal of humanity. But if this is so, then Christ as the
   man to come is not man for himself but essentially man for others;
   it is precisely his complete openness that makes him the man of the
   future ... the future of man lies in "being for." This
   fundamentally confirms once again what we recognized as the meaning
   of the talk of sonship and, before that, as the meaning of the
   doctrine of three Persons in one God, namely, a reference to the
   dynamic, "actual" existence, which is essentially openness in the
   movement between "from" and "for." And once again it becomes clear
   that Christ is the completely open man, in whom the dividing walls
   of existence are torn down, who is entirely "transition" (Passover,
   "Pasch"). ... After the piercing with a spear that ends his earthly
   life, his existence is completely open; now he is entirely "for";
   now he is truly no longer a single individual but "Adam," from
   whose side Eve, a new mankind, is formed.... The fully opened
   Christ, who completes the transformation of being into reception
   and transmission, is thus visible as what at the deepest level he
   always was: as "Son." (77)

Ratzinger's Trinitarian Theology

One can extrapolate from Ratzinger's reflections here and elsewhere that the notions of being-for, being-from, and being-with offer us a glimpse into the trinitarian life, but he does not push the parallelism so far that each corresponds directly with a divine person, although it is apparent that in the immanent Trinity these are most fittingly appropriated to Father, Son, and Spirit, respectively. As Jesus is literally God-with-us, so the Spirit is the God who dwells within us. But God and being are not simply convertible such that one can then say Christ is being-with-us and the Spirit is being-in-us. He says not only that "Son" means being-from-another, but also that the Son defines himself on earth completely in terms of his Father; thus, he is being-for by mission because he is in himself being-from the Father. (78) Therefore, when a Christian strives to unite himself fully to Christ, he replaces his own individuality with "pure, unreserved being 'from' and 'for.'" (79) Hence, the Incarnate Word also inculcates being-for, being a transparent window into the Father and even an example for men of paternal virtue. But it is the Father who is the very act of self-giving in God. (80) Again, "'Father' is purely a concept of relationship. Only in being for the other is he Father." (81) Moreover, the "completely open being" of Christ's being-from or being-toward, which does not stand on its own, must be "pure relation (not substantiality) and, as pure relation, pure unity." (82)

Finally, speaking of spirit generically but in the context of this trinitarian theology, he prepares the way by means of analogy for the traditional appropriation of unity and love to the third divine person: "pure oneness can only occur in the spirit and embraces the relatedness of love." (83) Earlier he had stated the following regarding the Spirit:
   This new experience [of God as "I" and "You" in the dual nature
   of the God-with-us ("Emmanuel")] is followed finally by
   a third, the experience of the Spirit, the presence of God in
   us, in our inner-most being. And again it turns out that this
   "Spirit" is not simply identical either with the Father or the
   Son, nor is he yet a third thing erected between God and us;
   it is the manner in which God gives himself to us, in which
   he enters into us, so that he is in man yet, in the midst of this
   "indwelling," is infinitely above him. (84)

The Holy Spirit is the continuation in history of God-with-us by dwelling in man insofar as he is a member of Christ's body and therefore a spiritual agent in history. (85) The Church is the created mirror of the Spirit because the Spirit himself is receptive, as the divine exemplar of what it means to listen and to remember. He says the following in The Nature and Mission of Theology: "A further characteristic of the Spirit is listening: he does not speak in his own name, he listens and teaches how to listen. In other words, he does not add anything but rather acts as a guide into the heart of the Word, which becomes light in the act of listening ... the Spirit effects a space of listening and remembering, a 'we.'" (86) The Spirit is, therefore, the principle of communion among men, but only because he is first the communio of Father and Son, the One who unites the two, who reveals their unity.

He conceives pneumatology as the link between Christology and ecclesiology, as a theology of the Spirit precisely of Christ, according to which the Son is the revelation (logos) of God in history. It is understood that deposit reveals very little about the Holy Spirit in himself. (87) He, nevertheless, speaks in his essay on the "The Holy Spirit as Communion" of self-giving as the very being of the Spirit as well, who as datus opens up the Son as natus to the world as factus. The doctrine of the Spirit provides the link between the economic and immanent dimensions of the Trinity--the Spirit bridges the gap between salvation history and the logos behind creation. (88) The Spirit is the unity of the being-for and being-from of God; He shares in the being-from of the Son and yet communes equally with the Father's being-for (89)--he joins the being-from of the Son to the being-for of the Father in the being-with that is the love of God. (90) Flowing from this identity, the Spirit in history acts as the "wholly other" dimension of God at the core of every religious experience, (91) which provides a kind of portal into eternity, the realm of abiding love. (92) The Church is the gift of God to the world, the very image of the Spirit, who is God as gift. (93) From the crucified Christ the divine power of living and moving in agape flows forth and "enlightenment about what the Holy Spirit is" may only then come. (94)

While the Spirit in his being-with the Father and the Son (and thus is the continuation of the Emmanuel's presence), the being-from of Christ's identity is the reason for his mission of being-for; (95) Christ is a being-for others in time precisely because he is wholly one with the Father from eternity. Hence, Ratzinger affirms that "'Mission' theology is again theology of being as relation and of relation as mode of unity ... through the concept of the mission, being is interpreted as being 'from' and as being 'for.'" (96) Thus, the category (or rather, transcendental) of relatio is revealed to us in the economy of creation and salvation history as a window into the inner life of God as well as into man as his image. (97)

The triadic theme of being-for, being-from, and being-with appears in subtle ways throughout most of Ratzinger's writings, but the relative infrequency of these terms compared with other more common theological expressions does not undermine the almost programmatic function of this profound triad in his work. It plays the role of uniting his anthropology, which conceives the person as essentially relational and thus called to a communio of love, with his understanding of God's revealed being, where Christ is the bridge between the inner-divine exchange and the person as the center of the cosmos. (98) Balthasar, instead, approaches the mystery of God impetuously, extrapolating from the revelation of Christ's descent into hell (begun on the Cross) a sort of topography of God's inner life. Ratzinger shares with Balthasar a similar vision of the profundity and extremity of the descent, (99) but he explicitly limits it to the suffering of Christ on the Cross (culminating in his death) (100) and he does not extrapolate from this event an eschatology or a theology of suffering in the Trinity.


While Balthasar conceptualizes the trinitarian God almost exclusively in terms of kenosis, where the descent of Christ into hell is its economic culmination, Ratzinger opts instead to reflect on the transcendental relationality of divine being, as revealed in the redemptive incarnation as such. As the paschal mystery is, for Balthasar, a perfect reflection of the self-surrender constitutive of the infinitely distinct but united divine hypostases, the divine undergirding of sin and death penetrates even "the second death." Instead of associating the economic Trinity with the hell of the damned a la Christ's descent, Ratzinger's more disciplined approach discerns in every dimension of Christ's life a being-for that points to his being-from the Father, united by the being-with of the Spirit. Therefore, more than Balthasar, Ratzinger reveres the Creator's intractable respect for the radical freedom of the human person to refuse his love definitively. (101)

The trinitarian eschatology of Balthasar, which relies on an overemphatic anti-Pelagian understanding of the grace-freedom dynamic and a brutal interpretation of Holy Saturday, clearly acts to undermine the real possibility of damnation for men. Ratzinger distances himself from Balthasar's sympathies with the Origenist misericordia tradition, while at the same time reflecting deeply on the implications for an objectively redeemed humanity of Christ's descent into Sheol, the utter darkness of human loneliness and angst proper to sin and death. There is certainly a tension, however, between Ratzinger's understanding of the community of man in terms of an all-pervading relatio and the reality of damnation. It is unclear how heaven can be heaven above a hell, how it is tolerable for the elect (and for God!) that some of Christ's body be lost forever. He does not attempt a resolution to this perplexing dilemma, perhaps out of a fear of falling into the trap of over-systematizing the faith by positing the necessity of a hope-filled response to a concealed promise that God's desire for universal salvation cannot be impeded even by a merely finite freedom. He seems, rather, to believe that man is created with the capacity to reject definitively any and all grace that God could offer him or, at least, that God may not offer himself ordinarily in an irresistible fashion. But it remains a mystery for him how precisely this apparent frustration of God's will ought to be understood.


(1.) Most notably, in his memoirs, he says: "meeting Balthasar was for me the beginning of a lifelong friendship I can only be thankful for. Never again have I found anyone with such a comprehensive theological and humanistic education as Balthasar and de Lubac, and I cannot even begin to say how much I owe to my encounter with them" (Milestones, 143).

(2.) He frequently speaks of Christ's descent in terms of the Old Testament Sheol, but his identification of the latter with Gehenna allows him to affirm that although Christ cannot be said to have suffered the New Testament hell proper, his hell encompasses the eschatological "No" and the deepest possible suffering. See Mysterium Paschale, trans. Aidan Nichols (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990), 172-73; Theo-drama Theological Dramatic Theory, vol. 5, The Final Act, trans. Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1998), 199 and 354. Hereafter cited TD.

(3.) For the Cross as revelation of the Trinity, see TD V, 510-11 [G 466-67], 259-60 [G 234-35].

(4.) I therefore exclude minor works, such as Ratzinger's Meditationen zur Karwoche (Freising: Kyrios-Verlag, 1969), in English, The Sabbath of History, trans. John Rock (District of Columbia: TheWilliam G. Congdon Foundation, 2000), which is simply a set of talks he gave on a Bavarian radio station (see Edward T. Oakes, "Pope Benedict XVI on Christ's Descent into Hell," Nova et Vetera 11, no. 1 [2013]: 231-52, at 242). The English edition also includes a preface written by then Cardinal Ratzinger in 1997. What concerns the Holy Saturday doctrine in the original text is summarized by Oakes on 242-43, and the material of the preface on 245-47.

(5.) Balthasar's German essay "Mysterium Paschale" was first published in the collection, Mysterium Salutis: Grundriss heilsgeschichtlicher Dogmatik, Band III: Das Christusereignis, Teil 2, ed. Johannes Feiner and Magnus Lohrer (Einsiedeln: Benziger Verlag, 1969), 133-326; in English translation, Mysterium Paschale: The Mystery of Easter, trans. Aidan Nichols (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990). Ratzinger's Einfuhrung in das Christentum (Introduction to Christianity in the English) was published originally in 1968. Balthasar does briefly reflect on the Holy Saturday doctrine in his Verbum Caro (Skizzen zur Theologie I) in 1960 (in English, Explorations in Theology, vol. 1, The Word Made Flesh [San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1989]). His most significant remark there appears on 263-64. He does not yet bring the Trinity into the discussion; he will do so in the fourth volume of his Explorations. He does treat universalism in the first volume, but he does not explicate any clear relationship between Christ's descent into hell and the prospect of universal hope. He, nevertheless, anticipates here Ratzinger's development of the theme of the "dark night" as the hell embraced by mystics (in solidarity with Christ and sinners); see Explorations 1, 249-50, 268-69.

(6.) He cites Jean Danielou's Essai sur le mystere de l'histoire (Paris, 1953).

(7.) Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, trans. J. R. Foster (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 290.

(8.) Ibid., 291-92.

(9.) Ibid., 293.

(10.) Ibid., 301.

(11.) In Spe Salvi (no. 37), Pope Benedict, similarly, reflects on the "hell" into which Christ descends not in terms of damnation proper, but in terms of dark human experiences and the mystical expressions of the psalmist.

(12.) Introduction to Christianity, 311-12.

(13.) See his Theologik II, 315m; Steffen Losel, "A plain account of Christian salvation? Balthasar on sacrifice, solidarity, and substitution," Pro Ecclesia 13, no. 2 (Spring 2004): 141-71, at 150n54.

(14.) Mysterium Paschale, 51-52.

(15.) Balthasar holds divine immutability in principle (see TD II, 278 [G 253] and TD V, 222 [G 200]), but the "Greek" notion (as he says) has little effect on his understanding of divine impassibility--God, in his estimation, wills to become passible (see TD V, 234 [G 211]) and suffers not merely in the human nature of Christ (as his ur-kenotic theory of the Trinity makes clear); see his ambivalent statements about immutability in TD II, 280 and 293 [G 255 and 266-67] (as well as MP, 34 [G 152]). See also Gerald O'Hanlon, The Immutability of God in the Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

(16.) Mysterium Paschale, 34-35.

(17.) Ibid., 174-75.

(18.) Ibid., 35.

(19.) Ibid.

(20.) Ibid., 30. See also Edward T. Oakes, Patterns of Redemption (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 1997), 243.

(21.) His justification for such a move is both scriptural and methodological. He interprets Philippians 2 , on grammatical grounds, to be indicating a self-emptying that takes place in God himself, not simply in Christ Jesus (see 23-24). And he opposes Karl Rahner's "anthropocentric tendency" by turning to "the Trinitarian background of the Cross" (140).

(22.) See Explorations in Theology, vol. 4, Spirit and Institution, trans. Edward T. Oakes (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995), Part Three. The original German text was published in 1974.

(23.) Even though he met her early on in his career, her visions, which he helped put into writing, had an increasing influence on his own thought after her death in 1967.

(24.) Explorations in Theology IV, 409. See also 413.

(25.) There are occasional indications in Balthasar that he does not conceive the events of "Holy Saturday" as temporally distinct from his suffering on the Cross, and there are occasions where he seems to envision the descent as a continuance of the passion after the "moment" of his death. At times in Explorations IV he seems to relegate his suffering proper to Friday (e.g., see 406), while Mysterium Paschale (his "quickly written work") seems to assert a distinction between the passion of Friday and its continuation on Saturday (e.g., see 164).

(26.) See Explorations IV, 410.

(27.) Ibid., 410-11.

(28.) Ibid., 422.

(29.) Ibid., 412.

(30.) Ibid., 422.

(31.) Invoking Augustine's De Trinitate (5, 5, 6), he states: "relatio, stands beside the substance as an equally primordial form of being" (Introduction to Christianity, 182).

(32.) "A being is the more itself the more it is open, the more it is in relationship" (Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life, trans. Michael Waldstein [Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1988], 155).

(33.) Eschatology, 188.

(34.) Ibid., 259.

(35.) Ibid., 156-57.

(36.) In Explorations in Theology I, Balthasar likewise remarks on Origen's tendency to systematize, but he accuses Augustine of the same kind of error on the opposite side of the issue (see 267-68), which is a theme developed in his DareWe Hope 'That All Men be Saved'? (trans. David Kipp and Lothar Krauth [San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988], c. 3), and ultimately leans toward the Origenist perspective. Unfortunately, Karen Kilby in her Balthasar: A (very) Critical Introduction (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012), although indeed very critical, accepts Balthasar's treatment of the prospect for universal salvation as an exemplary instance of the dramatic perspective he wishes to inculcate (see 63-70). Oddly enough, she shows herself, at the same time, sympathetic toward much of Alyssa Pitstick's critique of Balthasar's doctrine of the descent in her Light in Darkness: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Catholic Doctrine of Christ's Descent into Hell (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007); see Kilby, Balthasar, 11-12 and 121-122n68.

(37.) He seems to indicate his option against universalist hope on 215-16.

(38.) Eschatology, 216.

(39.) Ibid., 216-17.

(40.) Ibid., 217-18.

(41.) Balthasar, on the other hand, even in his Theo-logic, vol. 2, Truth of God, describes hell with Adrienne von Speyr as a "trinitarian event" (352). Matthew Levering, citing this passage in his Predestination: Biblical and Theological Paths (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), comments: "Far from cutting off persons from God's presence, then, hell places persons inescapably at the heart of the Trinity" (165-66).

(42.) Eschatology, 262. He says the "concern" for the "aspects of eschatology" manifest in Balthasar's "profound analysis of the essence of Christian hope, of the pain of God, of judgment and the consummation" "could well release the subject [of eschatology] from a narrowly anthropological concept of its own task" (262). This comment, written in 1987, need only be taken as an endorsement of the trinitarian approach to eschatology as an effective tool against the anthropological approach of theologians like Karl Rahner; it does not imply that he accepts everything said about these themes in the work or that he agrees with Balthasar's trinitarian theory itself.

(43.) His polemic with Rahner on this point is already seen in Mysterium Paschale, 140, 147n106.

(44.) Rahner's view on divine immutability can be seen in Theological Investigations, vol. 1 (Baltimore: Helicon, 1961), 330; see also J. Norman King and Barry L. Whitney, "Rahner and Hartshorne on Divine Immutability," International Philosophical Quarterly 22, no. 3 (1982): 195-209. The dispute between the two is perhaps most vivid in Karl Rahner in Dialogue: Conversations and Interviews, 1965-1982, ed. Paul Imhof and Hubert Biallowons, trans. Harvey D. Egan (NewYork: Crossroad, 1986), 126-27.

(45.) TD V, 258 [G 233].

(46.) Ibid., V, 510 [G 467]. This is a quote from Adrienne von Speyr's Kath. Briefe, vol. 2. He says in the introductory note to the volume that "I quote her to show the fundamental consonance between her views and mine on many of the eschatological topics discussed here" (13). I have not found one place where he expresses disagreement with her.

(47.) Ibid., V, 243 [G 220]. This is an approving quote from H. Schurmann's Jesu ureigner Tod (Herder, 1975).

(48.) Ibid. V, 278 [G 252].

(49.) For development of this point, see Antoine Birot, "'God in Christ, Reconciled the World to Himself': Redemption in Balthasar," Communio 24, no. 2 (Summer 1997): 259-85, at 281-82.

(50.) TD V, 267 [G 242].

(51.) Ibid., V, 246 [G 222].

(52.) See, for example, TD V, 513, 517-18 [G 469, 473-74].

(53.) See TD V, 257 [G 232].

(54.) Ibid., V, 245 [G 221].

(55.) Ibid., V, 517 [G 473].

(56.) Ibid., V, 510 [G 467].

(57.) Ibid., V, 327 [G 298].

(58.) Ibid., V, 245 [G 221].

(59.) These words first appeared in a paper he delivered on the mystery of Easter to the Sacred Heart Congress in Toulouse, 1981, collected in the volume, Schauen auf den Durchbohrten (Einsiedeln: Johannes Verlag, 1984), translated by Graham Harrison as Behold the Pierced One: An Approach to a Spiritual Christology (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), at 57. See also 58.

(60.) See "Quelques reflexions sur le savoir theologique" RevueThomiste 69 (1969): 5-27.

(61.) See TD V, 242.

(62.) He certainly does not fall prey to the notion that impassibility is Greek and therefore subject to dismissal, as may be charged of Balthasar: "Historic Christianity rests on a fusion of the biblical inheritance with Greek thought" (Eschatology, 247). His nuanced (and brief) treatment of this question does contrast the "God of the philosophers" and the "God of faith," but it also emphasizes the unity of the two in historical Christian revelation (see Introduction to Christianity, 118-19, 145, 147-48). Compare this to TD V, 213, 217f, 235.

(63.) He says, "Man is God's image precisely insofar as being 'from,' 'with,' and 'for' constitute the fundamental anthropological pattern" ("Truth and Freedom," Communio 23, no. 1 [Spring, 1996]: 16-35, at 16). It will become clear how this triadic structure of man reflects God's own life.

(64.) Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, trans. Adrian J. Walker (New York: DoubleDay, 2007), 22.

(65.) Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth I, 23.

(66.) Balthasar, Explorations, see 406.

(67.) For his take on the "strong man" perspective of Christ as "chaining" and "robbing" Satan, see 407.

(68.) See Explorations IV, 412-13n29. Apparently he thinks the Jonahan hermeneutic to be superior to the "strong man" interpretation since he portrays it as unfortunate that it became a "minor."

(69.) See especially, Jesus of Nazareth I, 18-19.

(70.) Jesus of Nazareth I, 21-22. He points there to Joachim Jeremias's observation that the Hebrew word talia probably used by John the Baptist at Christ's baptism can mean "lamb," "boy," or "servant."

(71.) See Jesus of Nazareth I, 17, 20.

(72.) Introduction to Christianity, 281.

(73.) Ratzinger early on wrote a compelling article propounding this model of redemption, which extends to the Church's role in the world as the "little flock" and "light to the nations," and includes an alternative to Rahner's notorious notion of "anonymous Christianity," entitled "Stellvertretung" in Handbuchtheologischer Grundbegriffe, ed. Heinrich Fries, 2 vols. (Munich: Kosel Verlag, 1962-1963), 2:566-75 [in English, "Vicarious Representation," trans. Jared Wicks, Letter & Spirit 7 (2011): 209-20]. Still in his late work, Jesus of Nazareth II, he seems to favor the model of redemption as vicarious representation (shared by Balthasar) over the Anselmic satisfaction model on 232.

(74.) See Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Vol. 2, HolyWeek: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, trans. Vatican Secretariat of State (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011), 174.

(75.) See TD V, 244 [G 220].

(76.) See Introduction to Christianity, 233.

(77.) Ibid., 240-41.

(78.) Ibid., 186-87.

(79.) Ibid., 187.

(80.) Ibid., 184.

(81.) Ibid., 183.

(82.) Ibid., 187.

(83.) Ibid., 188.

(84.) Ibid., 164.

(85.) See Ibid., 332-35. He also develops this point in his essay, "The Holy Spirit as Communion: On the relationship between pneumatology and spirituality in the writings of Augustine" in Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith: The Church as Communion, trans. Henry Taylor, ed. Stephan Horn and Vinzenz Pfnur (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005).

(86.) Joseph Ratzinger, The Nature and Mission of Theology: Essays to Orient Theology in Today's Debates, trans. Adrian Walker (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995), 55.

(87.) See Introduction to Christianity, 331 ff.

(88.) See Pilgrim Fellowship, 48-49.

(89.) See Jesus of Nazareth II, 98.

(90.) See Pilgrim Fellowship, 41.

(91.) Ibid., 43.

(92.) Ibid., 45.

(93.) Ibid., especially 51 and also 49.

(94.) Ibid., 46-47.

95. This connection is not entirely clear in his later work, where a focus on the "pro-existence" or "being-for" of Christ seems to elevate the economic dimension to identity with the immanent dimension of the Son's divine being. See Jesus of Nazareth II, 134 and 88. But it may be that he simply wants to maintain the inseparability of processio and missio (see 97-98). See also Introduction to Christianity, 165.

(96.) Introduction to Christianity, 188-89.

(97.) For Ratzinger's understanding of relatio in terms of Augustine's trinitarian theology, itself also a theological anthropology: see Introduction to Christianity, 182-84. Notwithstanding his inapt characterization of "accidents" in Aristotle, he clearly wants to elevate relatio, on the basis of God's ontological identity as mutually subsisting relations, to the point of having equal status with substance, sitting alongside each other, as it were, distinct in creatures but neither subordinate to the other. In support of this transcendental relatio, he could have also quoted from Augustine, De Trinitate 7, 2 (see The Trinity [second edition], trans. Edmund Hill [Hyde Park: New City Press, 2012], 220).

(98.) Hence, even in his liturgical theology the theme makes an appearance: see The Spirit of the Liturgy, trans. John Saward (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000), 59 and 212.

(99.) In his early work, Ratzinger interprets Christ's passion, like Balthasar, in terms of two traditionally minimized scriptural passages, 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13 (see Introduction to Christianity, 342). In his much later work, Jesus of Nazareth, Ratzinger emphasizes Christ's death on the Cross as the culmination of his kenosis, even appearing to discourage an understanding of the descent into hell that would separate it temporally from his suffering on Friday: see Jesus of Nazareth 1, 95 and 99.

(100.) See, for example, Introduction to Christianity, 290, 293, 297-98, 300-01.

(101.) Hence, in Spe Salvi, nos. 45-46, he says that some are in fact beyond the point of conversion, lost in egoism, even if the number of lost is less than the number destined for purgatory. If one admits the existence of an irreversible egoism that does in fact culminate in damnation, then he cannot have a theological hope for the salvation of all men, which runs contrary to the fundamental argument of Balthasar's DareWe Hope.
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Author:Brotherton, Joshua R.
Publication:Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture
Date:Jun 22, 2015
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