May 19, 2008

Clash of the Titans

Riveting, as disputations concerning important issues often are:
It’s another rich issue, featuring, for instance, the sharp exchange between N.T. Wright, the bishop of Durham, and the magazine’s editor in chief, Richard John Neuhaus. Bishop Wright complains:
Errors abound in Neuhaus’ discussion of Surprised by Hope. I do not “heap scorn” on centuries of Christian piety. I do not claim that I am the first person since the New Testament and the early Fathers to take the thoroughly orthodox view that I do; many Orthodox and Reformed theologians of the last centuries have expounded a similar view. And, despite Neuhaus’ suggestion that I think myself superior to the Angelic Doctor, it is substantially Thomas Aquinas’ view of the Resurrection to which I suggest the Church should return. The views I attempt to controvert are, in terms of overall Christian tradition, comparatively modern and mainly Western.
To which Fr. Neuhaus responds:
My chief complaint about Surprised by Hope was and is that, in its admirable advocacy of a recovery of the eschatological, it caricatures and derides centuries of Christian thought and piety, including the thought and piety of almost all Christians today, with respect to their understanding of eternal life. A cosmic and eschatological corrective is needed, but I believe it will only be effective if presented as a development, and not as a severe rupture, in the Church’s faith and life. I, too, trust that this exchange with Bishop Wright will be understood within the context of “robust friendship and indeed fellowship in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

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