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Light in Darkness: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Catholic Doctrine of Christ's Descent into Hell [Paperback]

By Alyssa Lyra Pitstick (Author)
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Item description for Light in Darkness: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Catholic Doctrine of Christ's Descent into Hell by Alyssa Lyra Pitstick...

A reaffirmation of historic Catholic teaching on Holy Saturday.

Publishers Description
He descended into hell. Hans Urs von Balthasar, one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth century, placed this affirmation of the Nicene Creed at the heart of his reflection on the world-altering events of Holy Week, asserting that this identification of God with the human experience is at the "absolute center" of the Christian faith. Yet is such a descent to suffering really the essence of Catholic belief about the mystery of Holy Saturday? Alyssa Lyra Pitstick's Light in Darkness -- the first comprehensive treatment of Balthasar's theology of Holy Saturday -- draws on the multiple yet unified resources of authoritative Catholic teaching on Christ's descent to challenge Balthasar's conclusions. Pitstick conducts a thorough investigation of Balthasar's position that Christ suffered in his descent into hell and asks whether that is compatible with traditional teaching about Christ. Light in Darkness is a thorough argument for the existence and authority of a traditional Catholic doctrine of Christ's descent as manifested in creeds, statements of popes and councils, Scripture, and art from Eastern and Western traditions. Pitstick's carefully argued, contrarian work is sure to spur debate across the theological spectrum.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pages   458
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.17" Width: 6.38" Height: 1.06"
Weight:   1.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2007
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802840396  
ISBN13  9780802840394  

Availability  0 units.

More About Alyssa Lyra Pitstick

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Lyra Pitstick holds a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome. Her book "Light in Darkness: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Catholic Doctrine of Christ s Descent into Hell "won a John Templeton Award for Theological Promise."

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Roman Catholicism
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Catholic
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Roman Catholic

Reviews - What do customers think about Light in Darkness: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Catholic Doctrine of Christ's Descent into Hell?

HVB's hangups on Hell  Mar 18, 2007
HvB was a master stylist of rhetoric and literature, and a brilliant theologian. He came to the fore at a time when liberals were dismantling the orthodox foundations of Vatican II's ambiguously-spun final decrees. Cleaving to tradtion as he did, he became a lifeline to a rising generation of seminarians seeking to be true to Catholicism. Along with DeLubac and Congar, he managed to champion Biblical fidelity while also fostering forward-looking theological explorations.

In many ways von Balthasar was a Catholic counterpart to that great if strange Protestant watershed figure Karl Barth. And like Barth, despite essential soundess on most points, he could not escape being a child of his age and hoping towards a theology of Universalism. This tendency was stoked by his passionate vision of God's all-conquering love on the cross. In a sense he became a reverse Calvinist: if Jesus' mission did not result in the successful application of that love to every soul intended, how could it be termed a success? The logic of limited atonement was transposed and became the 'theo-logic' of an all-encompassing atonement.

Which of course is hopeful thinking at best, skewed exegsis and heresy at worst. Pitstick gives a good, succinct autopsy of the problems. Many HvB defenders have railed unsuccessfully (see the edgy arguments at the First Things website), but impressive endorsements for Pitstick come from heavyweight HvB afficionados and RC literati including Neuhaus, Nichols, Saward, and Thomas Howard... all of which makes you respect these men that much more. She is a precise and unornamental prose writer, and certainly not one you'd term 'irenic' by any stretch, but I'd wager Pitstick's ripples will be felt for years. Given the clergy's ongoing avoidance of Hell as theological subject matter, her surgical dissection is a saluatory one.

CS Lewis' literary inspiration George MacDonald harbored similar fancies about damnation, but like HvB managed to compose a crackerjack corpus despite such novelties. It all points to a healthy reminder: there is no such thing as the infallible theologian. For a counterpoint to Pitstick and tour of HvBs strengths, check out for starters his "Three Garlands," "Primer for Unsettled Laymen," "Anxiety," and "Prayer." Edward T. Oake's primer on the guy's theology is a necessary clarifier given HvB's staggeringly prolific output. And not to be forgotten is the tributes to HvB from the ultimate fans, JP II and B XVI, at the Vatican website.

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