Harrowing Of Hell
July 17, 2021

Parish Reading: Keller & Von Balthazar

Hope in the Time of Fear (Timothy Keller)
I invite you to join me in reading this book over the summer. Timothy Keller is the Senior Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. He comes out of the Reformed tradition and, as such, carries with him a theological perspective that is just a little bit different than ours within the Anglican tradition. Simply stated, grace and atonement are the dominant theological frames. That said, it remains accessible and thought-provoking. Keller makes the case that the only thing that is going to heal this world is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. His logic is not without sturdy foundation. There is one section that does, however, in my opinion, miss the mark. It is his reflection on human sexuality, which falls between the pages 147-152. I recommend you just skip those pages. Other than that, there is good insight in this book. My hope is that we can discuss it at our first meeting this fall September 12, between the 8:45 and 11:00 am services. 
Prayer (Hans Urs von Balthazar)
“Body and soul were created for the sake of daily obedience to God; this is the origin of the aura of nobility which clings to human nature. Humanity was created to be a hearer of the word, and it is in responding to the word that they attain their true dignity.” (Prayer, page 22)
Hans Urs von Balthasar was a Jesuit priest who left the order to engage the Kingdom of God from a different point of view. He lived a monastic type of life within a community called the Order of Saint John in Switzerland. From his new station, he began to write volumes of theology, with his magnum opus being the seven-volume series called The Glory of the Lord.
The book of his that most resonates with me is a simple one called Prayer.  It is a small book, but it is a dense book. Von Balthasar weaves a vision of contemplation with lines of scripture in a way that brings the Bible to life. In fact, it is best to read Prayer with a Bible at your side. 
I imagine that we will be reading Prayer throughout the coming year. In fact, I am considering turning it into a book study or minyan, with elements of worship attached, as a way of “walking down the stairs” into the silent depths of our soul. In this sense, Prayer is more of a workbook for practicing seeing the reality of the Kingdom of God live. I invite you to join me in studying this text.