Theology of Revelation Part 6: David Bentley-Hart on Being as Event
Hopefully you’re not sick of these, I’ve been feeling really intense about studying and doing some academic work, instead of just writing my own personal reflections on ethics. If that’s the kind of work you enjoyed, don’t despair, I’m getting to the point, I promise.
David Bentley-Hart has provided a critique of Barth that makes the argument that “the analogy of being does not analogize God and creatures under the more general category of being, but is the analogization of being in the difference between God and creatures; it is as subversive of the notion of a general and univocal category of being as of the equally ‘totalizing’ notion of ontological equivocity.” –The Beauty of the Infinite, Eerdmans. 2004. (pp. 241-42).
For Bentley-Hart, the analogia entis does not concern my being in itself in the Kantian metaphysical sense. Rather the analogia is the event in which my act of being participates in God’s transcendent act of being and thus receives from above, in the very being of God its own otherness and particularity my being. Rather than a Kantian illsuion of freedom the analogia is my own freedom to be. The analogia entis is my emancipation from the totalising violence of identity (p. 245).
Barth’s work concedes the realm of Reason and the realm of Nature to a Kantian autonomy that must necessarily make Nature an enemy of faith. A Ding an Sich is an enemy to the gospel at all times, but an event, a chronological approach opens the analogy of being to relationality, means the analogy can be part of the both/and rather than the strict either/or that Barth sought to create.
Based on his assumptions Barth is right to reject natural theology; however based on a proper Christocentric metaphysic where nature falls under the purview of eschatological reality the difference between God and the world is retained. Yet, this difference assumes the difference is already in some ways overcome, allowing us the room and freedom to speak about this world as the world that God has claimed and given to u that we might know Him.
Barth’s project undoes millenia of Christian witness, and if sacred tradition especially pneumatically conceived holds true, then this wholesale rejection cannot but be an aberration. The difference between God and original/eschatological creation is rightly reimagined because of the infilling sacramental nature of the eschaton. (His presence shall cover the earth as the waters cover the seas). Sacramental reality is the vision we are offered by the biblical witness and its revelation as such commands the attention of theology as a center when we begin to imagine natural theology.
Theology from above cries out to and reaches to theology from below, the natural is drawn into the inner-Trinitarian life. A proper incarnational metaphysic allows for the claim of Christ on nature as it is to exist, but only because it is being called into the new creation we properly acknowledge as the telos of nature. The Christ is the goal of creation and of nature and as such natural theology has a telos in Him.