Susan Beckworth writes for Spero News: Hans Urs von Balthasar: unorthodox theologian. It is, as others have said, a shoddy piece of work. Among other observations she makes is that he wrote the dedication for the book, Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism. I haven’t seen the edition she refers to; the only edition translated by Powell I could find has nothing by von Balthasar. She says Basil Pennington “contributed” to it–but all he did was make a couple of comments that are on the cover. Hardly a “contribution.” She quotes something from the webpage of the translator–but what does that have to do with von Balthasar? I will keep looking for this book, because I’m curious about what von Balthasar may say [I found this extract online–and I find it troubling].
She makes this additional charge:
In Hans Urs von Balthasar’s 1950’s published work, Castra Meretix [sic], he states the prostitute is the symbol of the Church, ”The figure of the prostitute is so appropriate for the Church…that it…defines the Church of the New Covenant in her most splendid mystery of salvation.”
Well, first, the author has a typo–the term is Casta meretrix (the “chaste whore”) and von Balthasar is hardly original in this. I found this today and it’s a fascinating read. He looks at the image of the Church as a harlot as used in many patristic and medieval sources. They follow the lead of Hosea, of course, who uses the image of a prostitute as a prophetic warning against Israel’s idolatry. And many folks before the Reformation saw the Church in the harlot of Revelation. But they also find types of the Church in Rahab and Tamar in the Old Testament and in Mary Magdalene in the New–the Church, especially the Gentile Church, is a forgiven harlot; once she followed idols, now she worships Christ. So Beckworth is speaking from ignorance.
Why the excitement about von Balthasar in the first place? It is because he is a theologian who influenced an important group of other theologians (e.g., Ratzinger, Wojtyla, Kasper, etc.).–banned at one time, he was to be elevated as a cardinal by Pope John Paul II, but died two days before the ceremony.
By the way … There’s something else interesting about this article. Robert Sungenis clipped it off the internet and published it on his own page, eliminating the name of the author, the source, and without giving a link.