Transcendence or incarnation in Christology. Gustave Thils, the Founder of the Revue Theologique de Louvain


  • Gianluigi Paquale


philosophy of history; theology of history; delay of the Parousia; Gustave Thils; Revue Théologique de Louvain; fundamental Christology; Late Modern Age


In the present time, which is between the post-modernism
and late-modernism, the question of the fate of history is
becoming ever more urgent, to that extent that today many ask
whether it is possible to raise philosophy and theology of history
to the level of science, which is at the same time increasingly
uncertain considering the content of what essentially history is.
The aim of this article is to thoroughly analyze and show that
the issue is not entirely new, but it is both in philosophical and
theological reflexion of the 20th century, which is evident in the
analysis of all the works of a famous Belgian theologian Gustave
Thils, who was, among other things, the founder and first editor
of the well-known journal Revue Théologique de Louvain. The
article deals with three interesting theses of Gustave Thils, which
are the synthesis of his research and speak about the fact that
history continues to exist although Christ’s incarnated history is
divided into two: ante and post Christum natum (before and after
Chris’s birth). Reading Thils, the first thesis (the incarnative)
states that history continues to the extent it refers to the world
reality, which Jesus Christ deals with too. The second thesis,
the eschatological one, confirms the opposite, i.e. the necessity
of entering into the time of flashes of eternity, allowing historical
processes, “at a certain distance”, to better interpret spiritual
meaning. In the third thesis Thils unambiguously declares
that the content of history is a permanent impulse that comes
from the Holy Spirit, coming from the outside, and, therefore
ensures that history exists and that it can be theologically and
philosophically contemplated. Thils stands for neither the first
nor the second thesis, but, using a balanced dialectics between
transcendence and immanence (incarnation), he certainly contributes to the restoration of Christology as such. Therefore, the
main thesis is this: Jesus Christ has become incarnate in history
though history is bound to disappear.

Additional Files