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Monday, June 27, 2011


Charles E Flynn

Note the reference to von Balthasar in Beauty Has Pride of Place, By Bevil Bramwell, OMI.


Good post, carl. And I chuckled when I went to comment and saw the first commentator's mention of Bramwell who first introduced me to von balthasar and the like. Your use of "slander" in the post is appropriate, and one I have used many a time. People seem to think you can't slander "dead theologians", as I like to say. You can, and it is a too often accepted norm. -jn

Lauri Friesen

I, too, find von Balthasar difficult to comprehend but my spirit sings and soars when I read what he has to tell me. So, I ignore the critics (whose writings do not inspire such a response) and my own befuddlement to savour what I can understand.


Nice piece.

For those who think HvB was too liberal, it is very interesting that Rev George Kelly said HvB told him that Kelly's criticisms of Raymond Brown were the most important piece of work he had done (!).

As for the Hell stuff, I think a part of the problem was the overly defensive temperament that came thru in "Dare We Hope..."

Makes me want to read some of "Glory..."


Thanks for the link, Carl (anything about my beloved Father von Balthasar is always greatly appreciated).


Hans Urs von Balthasar, along with Ratzinger, was the greatest theologian in the last century. I am very thankful for Ignatius Press for having published his works. And although Balthasar is a genius, I think that von Speyr is way better than him. Her profundity is stunning. No wonder why Balthasar loved her.

His work definitely takes time, but I do think that the problem is not so much with time, but that people would rather read other non essential things than read his works. And other than John Paul Institute in Washington, I don't think anyone has really immersed themselves to his thinking.

I would personally recommend Love Alone is Credible, The Threefold Garland, and vol. 1 of Glory to get started with Balthasar.

Charles E Flynn

I had read Adrienne von Speyr's "Confession" in the original English translation, which was sufficiently defective that Ignatius Press published a better translation. I hardly remembered the book, when I was specifically told by a priest, a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, that I should read some of her works. She can be daunting at times, because she has a tone and style, even in translation, that can come across as, "I'm sorry, but you have completely misunderstood the meaning and purpose of everything. Keep reading, remain open to the Holy Spirit, and things will become clearer."

Adrienne von Speyr can destroy your worldview in a single sentence, but she always replaces it with an upgrade.


Obviously his work on Beauty and Glory is phenomenal, but this does not mean there were not problems elsewhere. His work on the "Paschal Mystery" (as he understood it) is problematic. His work in "Dare We Hope" goes well beyond the problematic. DWH flies in the face of what every saint, pope, and council has said on this topic and seems to deny the plain sense of Scripture regarding the fate of Judas.


I find the objections to Balthasar with regards to the Paschal Mystery and Dare we Hope very weak so far. This is not to say that Balthasar's views are not controversial, but it seems to me that quoting a bunch of passages from the Scriptures and the Magisterium in an apologetic-style way is very weak. As Griffiths has shown, even the Magisterium does not say anything on Holy Saturday that would exclude what Balthasar said. With regards to DWH, it does not fly in the face of what every saint, pope, etc said. That would be ridiculous. The Eastern Fathers go way beyond what Balthasar said, in fact. One of the best patristic scholars in the world, Ilaria Ramelli, is working on universal salvation. It should be a good read. As for Scriptures, it all depends on what "aionos" mean. And I don't even know if we can get a conclusive answer to that.

But a way to understand and critique Balthasar would be going at it from the point of view of love: what does love entail? Does it mean to suffer? Would not then suffering be part of the atonement, rather than just obedience? What would a theory of atonement that does not include suffering say to me? Does love involve an element of surprise?

Those are the questions that must be dealt with. Otherwise the discussion just becomes sterile and we're back at high school apologetics.

Charles E Flynn

I hope to see Adrienne von Speyr's work on Holy Saturday published in English by Ignatius Press.

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