Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Responding to the "Haight"-ers

An anonymous reader left the following comment in response to this post (also see Parts 2 and 3), in which I announced that my Christology professor was preparing us to critically engage and respond to the weaknesses and doctrinal errors in Haight's book Jesus Symbol of God:
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.
I would like to say a few things about this. First of all, you really need to read Haight if you are going to respond to my comments on it. That's just the intellectually honest thing to do.

Secondly, I don't see how you can say that a "low Christology in the style of Hans Kung is basically the most credible Christology today." I've never met a low Christology that wasn't weak on the Trinity ad intra, and Jesus' divinity and resurrection. Roger Haight denies that we can know anything about the inner life of the Trinity. That there are Three Persons in One God is utterly ridiculous to him.

Of course, the very title of Haight's book tells you what he thinks about Jesus' divinity, with the definite article conspicuously absent. According to Haight, Jesus is just one of many symbols that mediate the presence of God to us. Haight's theology of symbol is such that he simply cannot and will not say "Jesus IS God." And, since he only believes in an economic trinitarianism, the two natures of Christ are not united in the pre-existent Word. There's no such thing as the "pre-existent Word", just people experiencing God as Logos through their relationship with Christ.

It's all utterly absurd and heretical, and you simply will not find it in any of the official teachings of the Church, no matter how hard you try to reappropriate the language that She uses in Her documents (as Haight has tried to do).

Thirdly, why is it that every time someone criticizes Haight's book we are accused of being "uncritical," as if the proponents of Haight's Christology are the only ones enlightened enough to even engage in dialogue on the subject? I know I don't have a PhD or anything, but I'm still a grad-level theology student. I read the entire book, all 491 pgs, and many of the chapters multiple times. I read three other books in preparation for reading Haight. My paper on his book was considered for this year's Theology Colloquium, and I tutored my fellow students in preparation for the midterm and the final for our class.

Basically, I'm not an idiot. I've done the research, and I find Haight's Christology to be severely lacking. The CDF did too, and last time I checked, Joseph Ratzinger was no slouch. Could it be that the reason the CDF takes the "very conservative" position is b/c it is the only orthodox one? That you would implicitly question the CDF's stance on this matter tells me that Christology is not your only problem.

St. Athanasius, defender of the Catholic faith....pray for us.

Pax Christi,

1 comment:

Christina said...

I have a question about low vs high Christology:

I was once in a debate with someone where I mentioned that Jesus was a man as well as God and was accused of low Christology. In his response I got the impression that high Christology was, in essence, the belief that Jesus was not man (or ignoring that part of him).

I've since been under the impression that low Christology was a focus on Christ's humanity and high Christology a focus on Christ's divinity, at the expense of the other.

I've asked if there was an orthodox middle Christology, but was told that high Christology is the orthodoxy one and I'm most puzzled. Can you shed some light on this?

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