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Love, Glory and Beauty in Jonathan Edwards and Hans Urs von Balthasar

IEVINS, JOHN,FRICIS (2019) Love, Glory and Beauty in Jonathan Edwards and Hans Urs von Balthasar. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Christian tradition, rooted in scripture, affirms both that God seeks His own glory, and that God is love. However, these goals appear to be in tension, with seeking one’s own glory seeming self-centred, while love being oriented towards the other.
This thesis explores how Jonathan Edwards resolved this tension in The End of Creation. In this work, Edwards draws on scriptural and philosophical arguments to resolve the question using a concept of theosis. This thesis argues that the general structure of Edwards’ resolution is compelling, but there are weak details in the argument. Many of these weaknesses are rooted in one specific weakness: Edwards’ account relies upon a concept of beauty which is too influenced by natural theology to be consistent with classical Protestantism.
These problems can be addressed by using the ideas of the Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, ironically making Edwards more consistently Protestant. Unlike Edwards, Balthasar develops an understanding of beauty which coheres well with key Protestant loci, notably in its emphasis upon seeing beauty in revelation, perceived through scriptural exegesis and the cross. While Balthasar’s account does allow for a role for natural sources in his account of beauty, it does so in a way which centres on revelation, and thereby coheres well with Protestant thought.
The thesis argues that Balthasar’s account of divine beauty (particularly as found in his Christology and his interpretation of the Trinity) contains ideas of love and glory which help to reconstruct Edwards’ ideas. Tension within Edwards’ understanding of love may be improved by using Balthasar’s aesthetic concept of love, centred on the cross of Christ. This concept of love itself contains a concept of union, which helps to improve Edwards’ understanding of theosis. Due to this reconstruction, Edwards’ theology becomes stronger, and more consistent with his own Protestant principles.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:10 Jun 2019 10:30

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