Life as an Analogical Concept: Earthly and Eternal

Beáta Tóth

Abstract


 

For Christian theology the fullness of life is God’s life and since God is eternal, the life of God is eternal life. By contrast, earthly life is primarily experienced as ephemeral, as subject to change and decay, and so from our earthly perspective the inanimate world paradoxically appears as more lasting than living beings. Moreover, earthly life itself is not a homogeneous phenomenon since plants, animals and human beings manifest life in significantly different ways. Can one meaningfully apply the term to such disparate forms of earthly life and equally to God? What makes eternal life living? In what sense can one call the vision of God or eternal beatitude life? Can the essence of earthly life be better understood from a theological perspective and, conversely, might our experience of the operation of the animate world shed some light on the nature of God’s eternal life? The essay seeks answers to these questions by visiting key formulations in Thomas Aquinas's and Hans Urs von Balthasar's theology and by trying to spot eventual lacune concerning the notion of (eternal) life in theological thought.


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