Friday, March 09, 2007

"Haight"-ing God's Son

After I posted my Christology paper on the Council of Chalcedon, several people wanted to know what books I was using for class. This will be a good opportunity to discuss the merits of one of my assigned texts. But first, here is what we're reading: Weinandy's book is an excellent introductory Christology text. Very solid and easy to read, while still being graduate-level material. I haven't read the other two because, well, I'm behind on my reading.

The final book, Jesus: Symbol of God, is what we're working up to. Everything our professor, Fr. Daniel Pattee, TOR, STL, Phd is teaching us and having us read is meant to equip us to be able to critiquely engage this book. Haight's "landmark" work is a best-seller and it epitomizes contemporary (which means "low") Christology. In any place where Christology is being taught, or learned, or talked about in the least, this book is having an impact and if we don't know how to respond then there will be no one left to defend orthodox Christology. I'm serious.

For its part, the CDF has issued a notification, judging that "the book Jesus Symbol of God (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1999), by Father Roger Haight, S.J., contains serious doctrinal errors regarding certain fundamental truths of the faith." The following snippet from the notification lists the fundamental truths that are being denied:
...the book Jesus Symbol of God contains statements contrary to truths of divine and catholic faith that pertain to the first paragraph of the Professio fidei, concerning the pre-existence of the Word, the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, the salvific value of the death of Jesus, the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus and of the Church, and the resurrection of Jesus. The negative critique included also the use of an inappropriate theological method. It was therefore deemed necessary to publish a Notification on the matter.
You can read the rest of the notification here.

Of course, with the utmost predictability, the Board of Directors of the Catholic Theological Society of America issed a statement expressing their "profound distress at the actions taken by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith against the Rev. Roger Haight, S.J." You can read their statement here.

Now, my question to you is this: What do you think of this book? Have you read it? Do you know anyone who has? I can assure you that I will be reading the entire thing very soon. Maybe you should too...

Pax Christi,


  1. Good stuff. I wish I was in your class. I'd love to read Behr.

  2. Sounds like he's trying to turn the Word into a sign with Jesus as signifier and the Father as the signified. If you haven't read Ferdinand de Saussure, you might want to check him out ( He's the precursor of structuralists and poststructuralists (including Derrida et al).

  3. I've posted my comments on Haight's book at

  4. Haight's a garden-variety post-modern liberal. His time is already over. I wouldn't over state the gravity of the harm he can do. If you accept his teaching, you have left behind the Catholic view of Christ. Truth will endure, and his particular mode of thought, subservient as it is to his beloved Postmodern intellectual fuzziness, will perish along with post-modernism, and leave behind nothing but a lot of "spilled ink" to remember it by.


  5. I have not read Haight but I believe that low Christology in the style of Hans Kung is basically the most credible Christology today, and that it can rejoin the essence of Christian orthodoxy. I think that Haight's critics are uncritically applying the categories of St Athanasius and St Cyril and Aquinas in a quite different epistemic context, failing to assess those categories themselves with a view to their adequacy to deal with the human, historical Jesus as understood in contemporary theology and scriptural study.

    As the Sobrino notification shows, the CDF is very likely to be influenced by an atypical coterie of very conservative theologians such as Jean Galot.


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