Hans Urs Von Balthasar, along with men like Jean Danielou, Henri de Lubac and others, is one of the more prominent representatives of the “new theology” wing of the Roman Catholic Church. He is famous for a great number of publications, not the least of which is his important work on Karl Barth, to say nothing of a more recent book about Martin Buber, George Bermanos and Karl Barth. Von Balthasar leaves no doubt about his love and respect for the Roman Catholic Church. But there is also no doubt that his sober and even critical views of Roman tradition stem from his profound study of the Bible and his contact with Reformed theology and his fellow Baselian Dr. Barth.

Like other figures in the “new theology” movement, he feels that the development of Roman theology, especially since Trent, has been crippled by an attitude of reaction. This reactionary stance has, in Von Balthasar’s thinking kept Roman theology from seeing the fullness of the Catholic faith. He seeks, in his own way, to develop a consistent Christocentric theological viewpoint. It is this that has kept the door open for a rich personal and theological dialogue between Von Balthasar and Barth.

Barth, as everyone knows, has kept up a steady criticism of the Roman church, particularly for its serious sympathy with the natural man, natural theology, natural law, etc. But Von Balthasar wants to show that at heart Rome is not concerned with natural man and natural law as things in themselves, but from a basically Christological concern. We may say that when one genuinely seeks to do this, as in the case of Von Balthasar, he is bound to view any static theological tradition in a critical light and is equally bound to bring everything into ...

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