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Dr. Joshua Furnal presents his research in Malta

Date of news: 3 December 2018

In November, Dr. Joshua Furnal gave an invited lecture at an international conference hosted by the Faculty of Theology at the University of Malta. The topic of the conference was ‘Resilience in a Troubled World’, which gathered scholars together from Malta, Italy, USA, Ireland, South Africa, the Netherlands, Spain, Czechia, and Poland. The Templeton Prize Winner, Prof. Tomáš Halík(Charles University) gave a keynote lecture in the Caravaggio chapel of St. John’s co-Cathedral to start the conference.

The title of Dr. Furnal’s paper was ‘Kierkegaard as a Theological Resource for Guardini’s Resilience in his Time and Ours’. In it he argued that Romano Guardini drew upon at least two aspects of Kierkegaard’s theology. First, Kierkegaard’s relentless emphasis on the historical and theological nature of God’s self-revelation in Christ shaped Guardini’s theology of the human person as ‘being before God’. Following Kierkegaard, Guardini says that we are ‘boundary dwellers’ between time and eternity and the tension that we feel in this present moment is instructive and potentially edifying. Second, Kierkegaard’s view of anxiety was also an important resource for Guardini’s theology of melancholy, which Guardini viewed as something that can present itself either as a temptation to despair or as a prompt to place your trust and hope in God. In his own words, Guardini describes melancholy as ‘the call of God’ and ‘the cost of eternity’s birth in the person’. The instructional aspect of what Guardini gleans from Kierkegaard is that despair is a double temptation: it is important to neither yield to the status quo of sense-experience as the absolute, nor to isolate oneself off in a nostalgic withdrawal from the world. For both Guardini and Kierkegaard, the double temptation of despair represents the refusal of responsibility and the denial of freedom. The path towards renewal sits on a knife-edge between faith and the sin of despair (Rom 14:23).

Read more about the Malta Conference

Read more about the Research of Dr. Furnal