Heavenly Participation: The Weaving of a Sacramental Tapestry

By Kilcrease, Jack | Anglican and Episcopal History, September 2015 | Go to article overview

Heavenly Participation: The Weaving of a Sacramental Tapestry


Kilcrease, Jack, Anglican and Episcopal History


Heavenly Participation: The Weaving of a Sacramental Tapestry. By Hans Boersma. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2011, Pp. xii, 224. $ 20.00, paper.)

Hans Boersma is a Dutch evangelical theologian who holds the J. I. Packer chair of theology at Regent College in Vancouver. In light of his admiration for certain twentieth-century trends in Roman Catholic theology (notably the Ntnwelie théologie) and Anglo catholic theology (notably the Radical Orthodoxy movement) he has previous written books critical of contemporary evangelical theology. In this book, Boersma proposes that these two movements have much to offer contemporary evangelicalism. According to our author, prior to the twelfth century a "Platonic-Christian Synthesis" existed within Christendom that maintained a "sacramental ontology." By "sacramental," Boersma refers to the idea (found in many of the patristic theologians) that everything in creation participates in universals found in the intellect of the Triune God. In this sense, all creation analogically manifests the reality of God, without idolizing or objectifying him.

This consensus began to breakdown in the twelfth century as a result of several trends. Mostly notably, Boersma takes over from the Nouvelle théologie's argument that because theologians after the sixteenth century no longer believed that nature was saturated with grace, the idea of an autonomous and independent nature arose. From Radical Orthodoxy, Boersma takes over the historical claim that Dun Scotus' doctrine of the nnivocity of being (the idea that "being" is a predicate that can be predicated of God and creatures in equal measure) and the rejection of the analogy of being (predicates of the divine being are only true analogically when compared to the same predicates in creatures) led to modern rationalism. Likewise, Ockham's rejection of universal made the divine will arbitrary and violent. …

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