SUMMER 2001. CREATION in CHRIST
Table of Contents
The biblically resonant words "created through him and for him" indicate the once-neglected theological motif that provides the present issue of Communio with its principal theme: Creation in Christ.
Juan A. Martínez Camino opens the discussion of creation in Christ ("‘Through him all things were made’: Creation in Christ") by drawing out some crucial implications of twentieth century theology’s rediscovery that "Jesus Christ is not only the redeemer of the human race, but also the one ‘through whom all things were made.’" This retrieval is the key to a theological conception of creation that, shaped by its systematic reference to a Christ whose mystery rests within that of the Trinity, can offer a persuasive justification of the positivity of creation: "The God who creates in Christ is capable not only of loving the other who stands before him, but also of involving himself in his creation in order to carry it to himself from the farthest point. . .the death of the sinner." If the recovery of the ancient theolegoumenon of creation in Christ is important for theology, it is no less important for the dialogue between faith and modern culture–and, in particular, between theologians and scientists.
Writing in the conviction that "the learned dialogue between theologians and scientists comes to nought. . .if there are no practical measures for perceiving the form of Christ as the form of the world,” Peter Casarella ("Waiting for a Cosmic Christ in an Uncreated World") explores the "sapiential conditions for the possibility of dialogue between the science of theology and the natural sciences." Recognizing the delicacy of attempting to bridge the seeming abyss between a Bonaventurian contemplation of creation in Christ and what he calls the "a-cosmic" world view of modernity, Casarella proposes a sapientia that is able to perceive a "cruci-formity" in what science reveals of natural processes–-a "cruci-formity" that just may be a "trace of [the] creative wisdom" embodied in the crucified Christ, the "hidden center of all things."
Martínez Camino’s concern for intra-theological renewal and Casarella’s concern for dialogue between faith and cosmology converge in David Schindler’s "Creation and Nuptiality: A Reflection on Feminism in Light of Schmemann’s Liturgical Theology." Drawing on Orthodox theologian Alexander Schemann’s vision of a liturgically and nuptially shaped cosmos, Schindler sketches what he calls a "symbolic ontology" that traces the Marian shape of cosmic order: "Creaturely self, precisely as its own individual self . . . is constitutively-also and more profoundly a reference to Another," a reference that discloses, and participates in, the kenotic power that is the Origin itself. Turning to the work of Elizabeth Johnson, Schindler suggests that feminist theology’s laudable concern to rethink the conception of power dominant in a certain theological tradition is ultimately undermined by its failure to come to terms with the inability to do justice to the liturgical, nuptial structure of creaturely autonomy underwriting that tradition’s flawed understanding of power in the first place–an inability that, in Schindler’s view, "most profoundly defines [the West’s] secularism."
Xavier Tiellette, S.J. ("Trinity and Creation") and Silvano Petrosino ("Is Creation a Negation?") confirm, each from a different point of view, that the embedding of creation in Christ and the Trinity sheds light on the primitive structure of creaturely being itself. While Tiellette exhibits the inescapable, albeit somewhat ambiguous, exigency of a christological and trinitarian grounding of the existence of the finite in modern philosophy from Malebranche to Hegel, Petrosino reflects on the positivity of the creative act that, according to Martínez Camino, receives its final justification precisely from such a grounding. The act of creation, Petrosino argues, radically distinguishes the creature from God, giving it a uniqueness within its utter dependence that participates in the uniqueness of the creator: "The separation. . .that is specific to creation . . . in its original meaning is never simply a negation."
The justification of the unicity of the creature within a trinitarian christology suggests the pertinence of the second theme treated, albeit more briefly, in the present number of Communio--the theme of "Catholicity in a Global Age." In "Balthasar, Globalization, and the Problem of the One and the Many," William T. Cavanaugh sets forth a theological reading of globalization as an attempt to resolve the problem of the one and the many through an "aesthetics"--a "way of configuring space"--that "abstracts human relations . . . from their concrete embodiment in the local and the particular." Balthasar’s centering of the one-many relation on the concrete universality of Christ, Cavanaugh argues, points us towards an alternative aesthetics (and dramatics) in which the particular is given its particularity precisely by its incorporation into the universal," the eucharistic body of Christ. "The Christian," then, "is not called to replace one universal system with another, but to attempt to ‘realize’ the universal body of Christ in every particular exchange."
Analogously, Javier Prades ("The Tribe or the Global Village? Fundamental Reflections on Multiculturalism") takes up the problem of the one and the many in response to the widespread critique of ethnic identity as an obstacle to the peaceful coexistence of peoples. Rejecting myopic approaches to multiculturalism that presuppose a typically modern dialectical opposition between the universal and the particular, Prades argues that "the limitations of particularism are not corrected by erasing the particular. . .but by opening particular identity to universality." What is needed, Prades suggests, is an “ethnia sui generis" within all cultures that embodies, as a "proposal to test in freedom," an adequate anthropology that does not seek to eliminate, but to redeem the tension between individual and community, self-being and being for others.
Also in this issue, Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. offers a timely reflection on the criteria by which the Church discerns authentic from unauthentic tradition. After having traced the history of the concept of tradition from the Council of Trent through the Second Vatican Council and the years immediately following it, Cardinal Dulles observes the need for further reflection on the question of distinguishing authentic from unauthentic tradition. "Neither Scripture nor the Magisterium," the Cardinal concludes, "is the sole touchstone by which all doctrines and practices should be understood as being contained in the word of God." Hence the need for the criteria, four in number, which "are to be used in convergence to authenticate valid traditions."
Approaching the question of the transmission of the faith as an artist, Hamilton Reed Armstrong ("The Transmission of Faith through Art") shows in the light of history that "the role of the artist is the same now as it was in the time of the catacombs--to bring man to the vision of God through inspired works of beauty." Critical of the "growing distance between . . . the artist and organized religion"--and of its effects on the Church’s own dealings with the arts--Armstrong offers as a principle of discernment the affirmation that "any artist who eschews the seduction of mere self-expression, and genuinely seeks to portray the beauty of the created order, is in his own way seeking God." Finally, Hans Urs von Balthasar’s "Tribute to Mozart" suggests that Mozart serves Christ in music "by making audible the triumphal hymn of a prelapsarian and resurrected creation, in which suffering and guilt are . . . transfigured present."
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