The Beauty of the Infinite

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 A friend (thanks Alex!) recommended David Bently Hart’s The Beauty of the Infinite (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003) for my reading pleasure.  Hart is an Eastern Orthodox theologian and teacher who has taught at several different American universities and schools.  This book is thick and dense; in fact, it is probably the most difficult book I’ve ever read.  I’m quite sure I missed about 1/2 of what Hart was trying to do.  The writing style is difficult and his interaction with major and minor theologians and philosophers from various countries and eras make it a book for only the most serious students of philosophy and theology. 

To be sure, there is much gold to be mined here.  For example, the opening quote was great (and it is probably the easiest quote in the book).  I’ll end with it.

“Christianity has from its beginning portrayed itself as a gospel of peace, a way of reconciliation (with God, with other creatures), and a new model of human community, offering the ‘peace which passes understanding’ to a world enmeshed in sin and violence.  The earliest confession of Christian faith – kurios christos – meant nothing less radical than that Christ’s peace, having suffered upon the cross the decisive rejection of the powers of this world, had been raised up by God as the true form of human existence; an eschatologically perfect love, now made invulnerable to all the violences of time, and yet also made incomprehensibly present in the midst of history, because God’s final judgment had already befallen the world in the paschal vindication of Jesus of Nazareth.”

“It is only as the offer of this peace within time, as a real and available practice, that the Christian evangel (and, in particular, the claim that Christ has been raised from the dead) has any meaning at all; only if the form of Christ can be lived out in the community of the church is the confession of the church true; only if Christ can be practiced is Jesus Lord.”

shane lems

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