Augusto Del Nice How the Demonic Creeps In

Thanks to this excellent article by Michael Hanby in First Things, I’ve discovered the writings of Italian philosopher Augusto Del Noce. Writing primarily in the postwar period, Del Noce had unusual and prescient insight into the political and cultural direction of the West. In his collection of essays, The Crisis of Modernity, he sounds like a contemporary cultural critic despite publishing most of these works over 50 years ago. In predicting the logical consequences of the sexual revolution, he writes,

“Total nudity must be unconditionally accepted and facilitated. Public intercourse must be allowed. Nobody can forbid his/her partner to have other lasting sexual relationships. …Nothing gives the right to criticize homosexual unions. Sexual education must be understood as the removal of all ancestral complexes that lead us to value abstinence.”

Augusto Del Noce perceived where Western culture – both European and American – was going. He understood that sexual expression would become a matter of identity, the realization of which would become a basic human right that would usurp the moral high ground from traditional religion. He also consistently provides, in his essays, a historical contextualization of the development of political and cultural ideas in the twentieth century. This history lesson helps unschooled readers like myself grasp the intellectual roots of the culture in which we now find ourselves.

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What the Book Is About

Obviously, On the Incarnation is about the incarnation of Jesus Christ, whom Athanasius consistently refers to as “the Word of God.” This short book is divided into nine chapters. The first three chapters deal with creation and the fall of humanity into sin, and specifically with the dilemma human sinfulness created for God. What is God supposed to do now that his prize creation, the ones upon whom he placed his image, have disobeyed his single command, thereby inviting sin and death into the world? Athanasius puts the problem this way:

It was unworthy of the goodness of God that creatures made by Him should be brought to nothing through the deceit wrought upon man by the devil; and it was supremely unfitting that the work of God in mankind should disappear, either through their own negligence or through the deceit of evil spirits. - On the Incarnation, p. 32

In other words, God is too good to allow the devil, through his deception, to destroy humanity and make them nothing (in the same way that both evil and darkness are nothing, the absence of goodness and light, respectively). His goodness cannot allow evil to win. What, then, is he to do? 

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What the Book Is About

The Beauty of the Infinite is a treatise on the aesthetics of Christian theology, a defense, as it were, of Christianity’s “rhetoric of peace” over against the rhetorical violence of modernity and postmodernity. The main idea of David Bentley Hart’s masterpiece (and it is, in my opinion, a masterpiece) could be stated like this:

The rhetoric of God is Jesus Christ, offered as pure gift. As gift, Christ is infinite peace. As both gift and the rhetoric of peace, Christ is beauty, the magnificent demonstration of the self-giving love of the Trinity which crosses all boundaries, even the boundary of death.


The Triune God is “the God who ‘others’ himself within himself and contains and surrenders otherness as infinite music, infinite discourse.”
In Hart’s own words, the book demonstrates “that one may speak, within the Christian tradition, of a rhetoric of peace, of a practice of rhetoric that is peaceful, because rhetoric and beauty are both already narrated by Christian thought as peace, obedient to a particular understanding of the infinite: beauty is prior to sublimity [tragic beauty] and infinity surpasses totality [the power of world systems]. Moreover, the concrete form of Christian rhetoric – Christ, the Father’s supreme rhetoric, his Word – appears within the terms of this Christian narrative of the infinite as the very form of peace, the infinite gesture of a love that simply exceeds the gesture of every violence brought against it, the real and visible beauty whose historical and aesthetic particularity invites response and variation and whose effect can inhabit time not simply as negation but as a practicable style of existence.” (413)

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A professor at Wheaton has recently caused a stir by remarking that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Although this professor is not in the Theology department, her statement has landed her on administrative leave. Many have chimed in with their thoughts on what Wheaton, an evangelical Christian university, should or should not do in this case. Thankfully, I am not an administrator at Wheaton (or any college…or in any capacity, for that matter) so I do not know what is appropriate in this matter. However, I would like to write a few words on the question at hand: Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?


Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?
Miroslav Volf, a theologian whom I respect and admire, has written a book called Allah: A Christian Response. I have not read his book, so I will not comment on its content. Scot McKnight, however, has read the book and interacted with it over several posts on his website, one of which can be found here. McKnight summarizes Volf’s assertions this way:

Christians and Muslims agree on six significant theological statements:

1. There is only one God.
2. God is creator.
3. God is radically different.
4. God is good.
5. God commands we love God.
6. God commands we love others.

When Christians and Muslims agree on the above six claims about God, then in their worship of God they refer to the same object” (110-111)

To be sure, these are significant similarities. But are they enough to qualify as being “the same”? (Volf does not take the word same to mean “identical,” but rather to mean “sufficiently similar.”) Does agreement upon these six theological points create sufficiently similar worship between Christians and Muslims?

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The Experience of God by David Bentley Hart

What the Book Is About

In The Experience of God, David Bentley Hart makes a compelling case for classical theism. Drawing from a wide array of sources, including Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Hindu thinkers, Hart weaves together their most basic theological strands into a beautiful tapestry of the divine. With tremendous respect for the past, he reaches back into the Middle Ages and the classical period to to pull together a grand vision of God who is “the unity of infinite being and infinite consciousness, and the reason for the reciprocal transparency of finite being and finite consciousness each to the other, and the ground of all existence and all knowledge.” (p. 324)

As well as Hart makes the case for classical theism, he also builds a powerful case against atheistic materialism and Naturalism. He asserts that “materialism is among the most problematic of philosophical standpoints, the most impoverished in its explanatory range, and among the most willful and (for want of a better word) magical in its logic, even if it has been in fashion for a couple of centuries or more.” (p. 48) There are many reasons for this in Hart’s mind, but perhaps none more potent than the need for a “necessary reality,” or in other words, something that does not depend on anything else for its existence.

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