Sunday, April 17, 2005

Walter Cardinal Kasper

I am "stealing" this from Prior Aelred because I don't have the ready access to this information that I should have, or the time to seek it out and put it here on my own. And it answers a few issues that have been percolating with me, regarding the gap between Christian doctrine and the general perception of Christian doctrine.

As Prior Aelred says, we need some hope for a Christianity for grown ups. These are some steps toward that hope:

• "Faith does not mean a believing-to-be-true of wonderful facts and sets of beliefs that have authoritatively been put before us."

• "Dogmas can certainly be one-sided, superficial, bossy, dumb, and rash."

• Christ "presumably did not call himself either Messiah or Servant of God or Son of God and probably not Son of Man either."

• The dogma that Jesus is "completely man and completely God" is able to be superceded.

• Kasper writes "that we must call the many miracle stories in the Gospels legendary."

• Although Kasper admits Jesus performed healings: "On the other hand, with some probability one need not consider [the] so-called natural miracles as historical."

• The Resurrection of Jesus is "no objectively and neutrally ascertainable historical fact."

• Regarding the oldest account of the Easter event (Mk 16:1-, Kasper comments "that here we are not talking about historical characteristics but [linguistic] means of style which are to get people's attention and create excitement." Other New Testament factual claims about the Easter and Ascension accounts, too, are mere "means of style" for Kasper.

• Statements about the immanent Trinity or about the pre-existence of Christ are, according to Kasper, "not direct statements of faith but theological statements of reflection."

• Kasper also speaks of the "Resurrection of each individual at death." Hence "any talk of life after death is misleading." In addition, any talk of heaven, hell, and purgatory is "a very inappropriate, indeed misleading way of speaking."

• By the "not very fortunate expression 'infallibility of the Church'" is meant "that the Church . . . cannot definitively fall back to the status of synagogue and cannot deny Christ definitively."

• The dogma of the Church's universal mediatorship of salvation, clothed in the words "extra ecclesiam nulla salus" ["no salvation outside the Church"], which is most important for ecumenical conversations, Kasper calls a "most misunderstandable phrase.”

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