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Heavenly Participation: The Weaving of a Sacramental Tapestry Paperback – February 1, 2011
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— Baylor University
"Hans Boersma makes a superb contribution to evangelical theological reflection in this well-designed book, and it goes a long way to drawing us back from the brink of a fashionable evangelical tendency to reductive historicism. His re-situation of the doctrine of the Incarnation in its historic sacramental language and thought opens up the way to a deeper understanding of the truths of faith that evangelicals and Catholics alike seek to comprehend and nurture."
Robert Louis Wilken
— University of Virginia
"Theology at its best, says Hans Boersma, is less interested in comprehending the truth than in participating in it. Skillfully marshalling passages from the church fathers and medieval theologians and drawing judiciously on contemporary evangelical and Catholic thinkers, Boersma shows that theology is not primarily an intellectual enterprise but a spiritual discipline by which one enters into the truth and is mastered by it. Though this 'sacramental tapestry,' as he calls it, is as old as the church, it is refreshing to have it presented anew in this engaging book."
American Theological Inquiry
"Starts a timely conversation about reform within evangelical Christianity."
Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care
"I wholeheartedly suggest this book for seminary classrooms in spiritual formation and to every thinker who is engaging questions of spiritual formation."
"This is a book that is well worth reading as it provides an important background for and corrective to a missing component in contemporary theological reflection."
Reviews in Religion and Theology
"Boersma's book serves as a valuable contribution to the bourgeoning evangelical reflection on the church fathers and medieval theologians."
"The reader will learn much about the development of eucharistic theology as well as the movement of nouvelle théologie."
Catholic Library World
"A brilliant and novel reconsideration of discovering spiritual realities alive in our mundane world."
"A promised sign of evangelical theology seeking to root itself more deeply in the tradition of the Church."
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Top customer reviews
Boersma structures his book around the (neo)Platonic movement of exitus and reditus (the departure from and return to), except exitus now refers to how the church lost the PCs and the reditus on possible steps for regaining it.
It is not Boersma’s goal to defend Platonism as such. Rather, he seeks to combat the "antiheaven rhetoric among Evangelicals" (187).
For Boersma--and for the earlier Tradition--Created realities point beyond themselves (carry extra dimension to them). A Sacramental world not only points to God but participates in him. The signum points to and participates in the res. The end of created being lies beyond itself (30).
The Fathers were able to weave a sacramental tapestry around Christ: Christ contains the heavenly and creaturely universals in which we participate. Our particular humanity depends on the participation of humanity in Christ (51).
Sadly, this garment came unwound in the late middle ages with an increasing extrincisim of the Church. Scripture and Tradition, Eucharist res and Eucharistic signum, were now be defined in opposition to one another. With Occam and Scotus the unwinding became a cutting. No longer was there a higher realm of being in which created being participated. Rather, God and man were subsumed under the generic categor of being.
How do we return (reditus)? Boersma examines the implications of Henri de Lubac and the Nouvelle Theologie. In their works we see a real transubstantiation, but it is when the congregation is changed into the body of Christ. This leads de Lubac to posit a threefold body: the bread, the congregation, Christ. Further, we see that sacramental time is when past, present, and future coincide (124). Chronological time thus opens up to eschatological time. Thus, “eschatological realities are able to enter into time” (125). God inserts mystery into time. Earthly events become sacraments of eschatological mysteries. Time participates in God’s eternity.
The painting, or tapestry rather, was awe-inspiring. Boersma gives a convincing picture of how Platonism can be modified to serve Christianity. One can question, of course, the finer points of his readings on Scotist, but it seems more or less accurate.
Does he answer all the important objections? Probably not. But the book opens a door to investigating things not previously on the radar for most of us.
Supper to woefully unsatisfying. The book places the matter in a more comprehensive context than our standard theologies.