Numerous contemporary theologians depict divine glory as overwhelming to or competitive with human agency. In effect, this makes humanity a threat to God’s glory, and causes God’s glory to remain opaque to human inquiry and foreign to human life.
Karl Barth and Hans Urs von Balthasar have avoided this tendency, instead depicting God’s glory as enabling people to participate in glorifying God. Nevertheless both accounts fall short of their initial promise by giving one-dimensional accounts of human obedience to God within largely conventional divine command accounts of ethics. The form of human obedience they present as compatible with divine glory does not actively overwhelm the human, but rather brackets out her agency as inappropriate in the face of divine revelation or command. And so, ironically, on these accounts God’s glory remains opaque to human inquiry and foreign to human life.
This study builds a case for seeing divine glory as intrinsically relational, creating a sociality which allows for a human agency transfigured by God’s glory. Moving beyond Barth and von Balthasar, this work turns to theological exegesis of Scripture to construct an alternative account of divine glory. This glory is worked out in the act of glorifying: first in God, then in divine glorifying of humans, creating a responsive human glorifying of God; and finally in processes of honouring or glorifying among humans. Divine glory is shown to be consistent with a responsive and creative human obedience to God, and shown to constitute human agency which is creaturely and dependent yet not overwhelmed.
There is extraordinary intensity in this engagement with God's glory. Fout is profoundly perceptive in his appreciative and critical account of two of the greatest theologians of the past century, Barth and Von Balthasar. Yet he is also a considerable thinker in his own right, and his lively, attractive account of the glory of God culminates in a gripping final chapter that draws readers into the depths of the Book of Exodus, Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians and the Gospel of John, making clear what they mean for us now.
David F. Ford, University of Cambridge, UK
God's glory is God's perfection, surely expressed in God's creation. Yet much theology highlights the glory of God at the expense of human freedom-the ability to act freely in response to God. In Fully Alive, Jason Fout respectfully addresses such tendencies in Karl Barth and Hans Urs von Balthasar. Through careful theological reading of key Scriptural passages on divine glory, Fout shows that God's glory overflows in ways that free persons for their full responsibility as human persons and societies, and this freedom gives full glory to God. Well researched and carefully written, Fout's book charts a way through the perennial question of the relation of divine and human freedom.
Ellen Wondra, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, USA
In this rich work of fundamental theology, Jason Fout beautifully describes the way that God's glory not only invites, engages, and transforms us but also generates and enriches human relationships. Through patient encounters with those with whom he disagrees, Fout also models something of the dignifying exchanges that he argues accompany God's glory. A deeply convincing and important work.
Craig Hovey, Ashland University, USA
In Fully Alive, Fout considers how the fullness of divine glory might empower a corresponding fullness of human agency. Contesting the terms of “heteronomous” theologies of glory that tend to narrow or bracket human agency, Fout advances a vision of divine glory as a relational overflow, which exercises our creaturely capacities-and specifically, our capacities for interpretation … Fully Alive is well worth the read-not only for its scholarly contributions to a number of fields (including Barth scholarship), but for the suggestive power of Fout's proposal that the glory of God might somehow inhere even in our lingering interpretive questions; glory gives rise to thought, and then gives time, and makes room.
Center for Barth Studies
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