Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Balthasar's theology as "quite loony"?

I have not yet embarked on reading von Balthasar's theology, despite his being viewed by some as "the greatest"of the 20th - move aside Karl Barth - century, if not, indeed, one of the greatest of all time. But I recognise that he has been impactive. So for me, and perhaps for you, if you are not yet an expert on this great theologian, this review article by Luke Timothy Johnson (himself no mean scholar and theologian) may be of interest.

SPOILER ALERT: only a portion of Balthasar's theology is described as "quite loony"!


Father Ron Smith said...

"“Balthasar in fragments is important and worth pursuing, for there is much to learn from, to borrow, to develop”—then offers a measured warning. “When one tries to follow Balthasar as a whole, to treat him as one’s theological guide, as a contemporary Church Father, then he in fact becomes dangerous,” she writes. “The one thing in my view that one ought not to learn from him is how to be a theologian.”

This assessment of von Balthasar must surely be true of most of today's 'theologians', whose own ideas are so often more subjective than objective. At least, he seems not to have parrotted the ideas of others of his contemporaries, which are so often based on the work of other scholars than themselves.

'Loony' was probably a title ascribed to the theology of Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees of his day - who had already assumed they knew everything that needed to be known about the God they encountered in the Old Testament.

At least, von Balthasar seemed open to the authenticity of the mystical experience of others than those of his own Roman Catholic tradition. But then again, I suppose the term 'mystical experience' might get short shrift from the university-trained didactic systematic theologians

Bryden Black said...

I would want to severely balance this review of Balthasar's work via that of Edward Oakes, Pattern of Redemption: The Theology of Hans Urs Von Balthasar; and those sundry wholesome summaries by Aidan Nichols. Neither are blind disciples of Balthasar; yet they do seem to be far more positive than KK!! IMHO!