Saint Thomas Aquinas

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hans Urs von Balthasar 'Razing the Bastions' Church Architecture

I just finished reading Hans Urs von Balthasar's work called 'Razing the Bastions' now published by Ignatius Press. I finished it one sitting today, since it is only a 100 pages long. I found many problematic statements and ideas in the book which I want to elaborate on, either in an upcoming written article, or in a future Podcast. For now I wanted to share with you one quote which I found to be a summary of his clouded thinking, which is expressed abundantly throughout the book. It concerns the liturgy and church architecture. As they say, ideas and thoughts have consequences, and bad ideas and thoughts have bad consequences. When you embrace bad philosophy and the muddled thinking of the likes of Hegel, which von Balthasar freely expresses on page 73 of the work, it is no wonder that he could not stand the beautiful architecture that the Church for so long had built to worship and honor God.

After reading the book there is no certainly no doubt that von Balthasar had a brazen distaste for anything medieval. At least that is what is conveyed in this particular work. In one of his rants, which laments the middle ages, he balks heavily at the church buildings of the time as not being conducive to a communal celebration. Many today make the mistake of separating today's liturgical disaster with the theology and philosophy that sustains and gives life to it. Balthasar's insistence on the absorption of the Church into the world, also forces him to lose his focus on man's ultimate end, which is God. We can see that he loses man as merely part of a worldly communal celebration, rather than part of a heavenly and saintly family looking vertical to the worship of God. We have seen this type of thinking with all of the "New Theologians." Community, or horizontal worship trumps the vertical worship of God. Although little is said in the book on liturgy, it is plain that his corrupt line of theological thinking concerning the Church and the world, had also corrupted how he viewed man's relation to the worship of God.

"The church buildings of that time (such a heavy burden for our acts of worship today, since it is impossible or very difficult to realize the liturgy in them as a community celebration) at best allowed only the lay elite into the most sacred precincts, while the people had to remain in the back." Hans Urs von Balthasar 'Razing the Bastions' Ignatius Press (Pages 38 and 39.)


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