This implies that Jesus is not only the world's first atheist, but by far the most thoroughly committed. After all, he is willing to forego God to the depths of hell, as far and as long as it takes to redeem fallen man -- whose very fallenness revolves around his alienation from God.
This is a point Balthasar emphasizes again and again, not just here, but in many of his works. There is a logic to the naked descent into hell, without which the Incarnation isn't complete. The circle of trinitarian love must expand all the way down and out, into the realm of its very negation.
Just as Light must penetrate the farthest reaches of darkness, Love must conquer hate, Life overcome death, and Truth sound the abyss of lies, "God, in the freedom of his love, makes the decision to descend kenotically all the way into the forsakenness of the world" -- a forsakenness that equates to a kind of auto-abandonment by God, of God, and in God.
People don't give it enough credit for being one of the more radical ideas imaginable.
"[T]he Spirit of Love cannot teach the Cross to the world in any other way than by disclosing the full depths of the guilt the world bears, a guilt that comes to light on the Cross, and is the only thing that makes the Cross intelligible."
I suppose what makes it intelligible is our guilt and God's love, the latter being sufficient to "cover" the former. We can't know just how guilty we are until we appreciate the death and God-forsakenness of the Cross. Nor without it can we begin to understand that from which we have been spared.
Again: wild idea.
We cannot leap over our own shadow (of guilt). Only God can do that. That we may be grafted onto this perfect circle is wilder still.
Yes, but at what price?
"Love desires no recompense other than to be loved in return; and thus God desires nothing in return for his love for us other than our love."
Love Alone is Credible. Incredible! Nothing short of it has sufficient explanatory power:
"Only a philosophy of freedom and love can account for our existence..."
This means that a true Christian must always be a lib- & lovertarian.
We've spoken before of how mere consciousness, or intelligence, or big brains, are insufficient to account for what is most remarkable about man -- that we are irreducibly intersubjectively open systems through which we find ourselves by giving ourselves away:
"One's consciousness, one's self-possession and possession of being, can grow only and precisely to the extent that one breaks out of being in and for oneself in the act of communication, in exchange, and in human and cosmic sympatheia."
This "circularity cannot be eliminated," for "it was conceived and set in motion by God alone..."
A footnote speaks of how, even in our bloodless and demythologized secular world, we can still perceive "the sheltering gaze that love casts upon being and essence," for example, revealing "the true nature of spousal love and the genuine love of children in the hearth of the triune fire of the family," not to mention "genuine friendship, and genuine love of country..."
Love does not come to man 'from the outside' because the human spirit is tied to the senses, but because love exists only between persons, a fact that every philosophy tends to forget. --Balthasar