David Bentley Hart on the Prodigal Gift of Being


The following is an excerpt from “The Offering of Names”, first entry in Hart’s recently released collection of essays,  The Hidden and the Manafest – Essays in Theology and Metaphysics:

Every metaphysics, simply said, that does not grasp (or at least adumbrate) the analogy of being is a tower of Babel, attempting to mount up to the supreme principle rather than dwelling in and giving voice to the prodigality of the gift. It is the simple, infinite movement of analogy that constitutes everything that is a being, oscillating between essence and existence and receiving both from beyond itself; and it is the movement of analogy that makes everything that is already the return of the gift thus given, the offering of all things by the Spirit up into the Father’s plenitude of being, in the Son. Ex nihilo in Deum – and there is no other “place.” By this movement, each thing comes to be as pure event, owning no substance, made free from nothingness by the unmerited grace of being other than God, participating in the mystery of God’s power to receive all in giving all things away – the mystery , the mystery, that is, of the truth of the God that is love. If indeed there is a sacrificial logic to metaphysics, as Vattimo and others say (the world and its highest principle sustaining one another in an economy of mutual founding, each in some sense both affirming and negating the other, each bound to the other by the logic of necessity), then the analogy of being that first appears in Western thought in the doctrine of creation is the only true “overcoming of metaphysics,” the end of the myth of sacrifice: creation and salvation are the gifts adding nothing to the being of God, and so nothing of the world needs to be destroyed to give glory and sustenance to the ultimate principle. Instead, our piety is one of rational worship, bloodless sacrifice, thanksgiving for a gift, liturgy, the offering of names.

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