[06] Theo-dulâ: Where Human Drama Plays in God’s Drama of Salvation

As an encounter of two loves and two freedoms, infinite and finite, the Theo-dulâ brings the dramatic inner life of the Trinity close to the dramatic life of human creatures. It is God’s dramatic inner life characterized by self-emptying and self-giving love that is made available to human participation. This divine drama of love, which issues from the Primal Dulâ of the immanent Trinity where such unique and exuberant love finds its source, radiates in the dramatic life and mission of the God-man Jesus Christ. In Christ’s drama, God’s drama is “fully and fundamentally” revealed.[1] Having culminated in the dramatic event of Jesus’ death and resurrection, God’s drama nonetheless continues to unravel on the world stage until its final consummation, all under the same direction of the Holy Spirit.  However, it is reflected only in a “fragmentary and broken way” in all the dramas, comedies and even tragedies of human existence.

The drama of God, which radiates in the drama of Christ, comprehends and judges every single human drama and leads it toward its redemptive meaning.[2] In this way, the Theo-dulâ makes salvation available to the world: God’s drama assumes the drama of existence being played on the world stage and inserts it into its own drama of love, so that the human drama may play in God’s drama.[3] It offers the world a script inspired by the inner life of God, an alternative to the tragic scripts written by human machinations and delusions.[4]

This then is salvation: the human drama plays in God’s own drama through participation in Christ’s drama. By playing in God’s drama, the human drama is transformed into the salvation drama in Christ. On the one hand, the divine drama is made-present on the world stage through Christ’s drama. On the other hand, our own human drama – our struggles for what is good, our search for identity and meaning, our longing for the joy of living, and our frustration and suffering due to the loss of such joy – are all taken into God’s drama and offered redemptive meaning. The former refers to the divine side of the salvation drama, a sort of theological drama “from above.” Such was von Balthasar’s perspective in his thrilling Theo-drama.[5] The latter highlights the human side of the drama, a Theo-drama “from below” if you will. Such is Garcia-Rivera’s Theo-dramatics.[6]

Confronted with the question of how the human drama – of love and sex, birth and death, labor and rest, passage into adulthood, marriage, and old age – engages and participates in God’s drama, Garcia-Rivera affirms that there is in fact an anthropological correlate to the dramatic inner life of the Trinity. This is the inner life of the human creature created in the image of God and given life by the breath of God. He affirms: “The Trinity’s outer life is not the only window into its inner life, the human inner life is the other window, perhaps its most clear window.” [7] If I may add, the dramatic inner life of God grounds the possibility of the dramatic inner life of human creatures; and divine drama grounds the possibility of all human drama. Garica-Rivera’s Theo-dramatics then seeks to understand what moves people within, what motivates them to act, what energizes them and gives meaning to their life as whole. An understanding of the dramatic dimension of human life can lead us not only to look into God’s dramatic inner life, but also to actually become one with God’s own life; our drama playing in God’s drama.

The Theo-dulâ not only grounds itself in the Theo-drama but also appropriates the sensitivity of Garcia-Rivera’s Theo-dramatics. In it, God’s drama assumes our human drama; and our human drama – with its tragedies and comedies – takes part in the divine saving drama.

[1] “(T)he hidden God is able to reveal himself in him (Jesus) – and not in a fragmentary way either, but fully and fundamentally – without ceasing to be God above all. He is able to become immanent in the world drama without surrendering his transcendence above and beyond it.” TD III, 506.

[2] TD I, 320.

[3] Ibid., 20.

[4] Garcia-Rivera, “Do this in memory of me,” 162.

[5] TD II, 53.

[6] Holding that von Balthasar’s purely Trinitarian Theo-drama really says little about the human side of the drama, Garcia-Rivera attempts to address the human side of the divine-human drama of salvation. Garcia-Rivera, “Do this in memory of me,” 163.

[7] Ibid.