Blog Template Theology of the Body: Volfisms

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Yale theologian Miroslav Volf gave a three-hour lecture at the Episcopal Church of St. Michael's and All Angels this morning in Dallas. Miroslav is suave and famous these days, but we do not hold that against him; if any one holds to the standards of the good, the true, and the beautiful as criteria for contemporary Christian theology, Volf's work is where you go.

(I get to have cocktails with Professor Volf and Fr. WB+ in a few hours, so I am blessed among grad students today)

I was particularly struck, as I always am, by Volf's treatment of forgiveness. Drawing from his last (and Archbishop-endorsed) title, Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace, Volf reminded us of the following beautiful principles: that Christian forgiveness is most purely a gift to the offender, not merely the therapeutic remedy that the victim permits to himself; that as a gift, forgiveness is an act that can be neither demanded nor commanded, but must always be the free (and often laborious) act that affirms our fundamental nature as creatures who were formed from nothing by the sheer freedom of God's own generosity; that the loss of pride and injury in the act of forgiveness enriches the self, and constitutes the forgiver's primal act of self-forgetfulness, by which God alone will remember him.

And finally this: we say so easily that God is love. What would it mean for the Church to understand that in this statement, we hear that God is generosity?...