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Unless You Become Like This Child

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  62 ratings  ·  9 reviews
In one of the last books written before his death, the great theologian provides a moving and profound meditation on the theme of spiritual childhood. Somewhat startlingly, von Balthasar puts forth his conviction that the central mystery of Christianity is our transformation from world-wise, self-sufficient "adults" into abiding children of the Father of Jesus by the grace ...more
Paperback, 75 pages
Published September 1st 1991 by Ignatius Press (first published 1988)
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May 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
Balthasar is contemplating the stories of Jesus holding out a child and telling us that we will not enter his kingdom unless we become like this little child. He describes that ultimatley this is rooted in Jesus very way of life. As a grown man, he never leaves the "bosom of the Father." His identity is inseperable from his being a child in the bosom of the Father. No other philosopher or founder of religion or psychologist have ever lived more authentically and deeply as a child of the Father t ...more
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity
Balthasar's short book takes childhood as a theme and stands it on its head. Typically, modern accounts of psychology and subjectivity focus on progression and development, with the effects of childhood often being snares that prevent our later success. Balthasar instead offers childhood as an exemplar of Christian life, of something we must continuously recover when lost in the world of adults. What makes Balthasar's account special is that he is able to connect this theme to many dimensions of ...more
Daniel Supimpa
Aug 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: spirituality
Von Balthasar does a short but interesting exploration on Jesus' command to become like a child in order to enter the Kingdom of Heavens/God (Matt 18:2-4). His writing style reflects the author's catholic tradition, which, fortunately, sees little divisions between academic and philosophical expertise and attempts of writing with existential and spitirual depth. Particularly interesting to me was his chapter that compares the relationship of simultaneous distance and belonging within the Trinity ...more
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Hans Urs von Baltahasar not only writes about beauty; he writes beautifully. This small volume radiates with simple and profound wisdom. It's an extended meditation on the words of Christ and the example of Christ, who lives his mission eternally as Child, and who invites his disciples to pattern their own disposition to the Father on his own. ...more
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
5 Stars

I'm just getting into von Balthasar's work for the first time. This was my first intentional dive into his work after reading a few of his essays in a separate collection, and I must say, I'm counting him among my favorite theologians after this experience.

In a humble yet profound style, he gently reveals some of the mysteries of Faith to his readers with a simplicity that resonates deeply. His language is approachable and yet quite deep, and his chapters are brief and easily connected to
Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Two things drew me to this book, one its beautiful title, and second the fact that it was written by Hans Urs von Balthasar, the wonderful 20th century Swiss theologian.

This was a nice and short book to read at only 75 pages long. I must admit that the book was a bit sluggish to get through, especially in the first couple of chapters, mainly due to the long sentence structure that von Balthasar uses, in which he crams a lot of info. But once you assimilate his writing style, the book does pick u
May 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
I wish I could give this book more than 2 stars. I'm sure it contains some wonderful thoughts and ideas, but I found so much of the writing so convoluted that any such treasures remained hidden from me. Perhaps the problem is with the translation (from the original German), or perhaps I'm just not up to the task of understanding and appreciating the theology (quite likely). Regardless, however good the book might be for some, sadly it was not for me. ...more
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was an extraordinary little book. Von Balthasar roots the doctrine of spiritual childhood in Jesus, the Eternal Child, who never leaves the bosom of the Father, even when He is accomplishing His very adult mission of redemption on the Cross.
Christopher McCaffery
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of his best short books I think. Goes right to the core of his theological approach.
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Hans Urs von Balthasar was a Swiss theologian and priest who was nominated to be a cardinal of the Catholic Church. He is considered one of the most important theologians of the 20th century.

Born in Lucerne, Switzerland on 12 August 1905, he attended Stella Matutina (Jesuit school) in Feldkirch, Austria. He studied in Vienna, Berlin and Zurich, gaining a doctorate in German literature. He joined t

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41 likes · 25 comments
“It is to the Cross that the Christian is challenged to follow his Master: no path of redemption can make a detour around it.” 71 likes
“To be a child means to owe one's existence to another, and even in our adult life we never quite reach the point where we no longer have to give thanks for being the person we are.” 36 likes
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