You are on page 1of 2


rather than its being. Yet, this book notably reckons much more with the
reality of the Spirit than his earlier accounts of the Church, where this
deficiency rendered an ambitious notion of the Church lacking the necessary
depth. And in the postscript, perhaps the true focal point of the book,
Hauerwas defends his work over the last decades against Jeffrey Stout. Here,
he provides a refined retrospective view on the development of his own work,
which will be welcomed both by readers seeking a first introduction, as well as
those better acquainted yet still coming to grips with Hauerwass voluminous
and sometimes puzzling work.


Glory, Grace, and Culture: The Work of Hans Urs Von Balthasar. Edited by
Ed Block, Jr. New York: Paulist Press, 2005. 244 pp. np.

Described as perhaps the most cultivated man of his time, Hans Urs von
Balthasar (1905-1988) was a Swiss theologian with a wide-ranging knowledge
of philosophy, theology, and literature. This book is a collection of eight essays
commenting on Balthasars work. Written predominantly by theologians and
English scholars, these essays focus on the theme of openness between
humans and the divine. They highlight Balthasars contribution to theological
aesthetics through his exploration of the primacy of beauty and the receptivity
that beauty entails (for, like love, beauty requires a response of openness and
surrender). Since undeserved beauty precedes philosophy and theology,
Balthasar gives a high place to literature and art in his writings and these
essays pick up on and respond to this.
David Yeagos essay, Literature in the Drama of Nature and Grace: Hans
Urs von Balthasars Paradigm for a Theology of Culture, is representative of
the articles in the collection. Yeago shows that Balthasar understands the
relationship between nature and grace to parallel that of a drama or work of
literature: The plot [of a drama and of history] is so constructed that it could
have no other satisfying conclusion, and at the same time the conclusion is
altogether surprising and unforeseen (p. 93). In the history of culture, then,
as in a work of literature, events are both surprising (free) and necessary
(determined). The Incarnation (grace), then, is both necessary to and
independent of nature. This idea holds implications for a Christians
involvement with art and literature. Since all of culture is involved in a drama
whose resolution is Christ, Christians must have some engagement with
culture, and, in that engagement, Christianity and culture reciprocally
interpret one another.
Other essays in this collection address such ideas of Balthasars as language
viewed as a sacrament (paralleling the Word made flesh in the Incarnation);

the relationship between biblical revelation and beauty; and Balthasars

objections to the historical-critical method of biblical interpretation, based on
his high view of art (which transcends the author) and on his belief that the
divinely inspired character of the Bible gives it a depth not reducible to the
situation in which it was written.
Marketed as an advanced primer for undergraduate audiences, the
essays are accessible to the lay reader, though occasionally an essay will move
into more technical language, becoming densely philosophical at times. The
essays in this collection are heavy on the literary and aesthetic aspects of
Balthasars work because Balthasars insights into culture are intrinsically
connected to his philosophical ideas. For Balthasar, language and theology are
closely related and give us insight into political questions such as how
Christians ought to interact with culture and society. Rather than relegating
literature to the realm of stories with no transcendent meaning, Balthasar
shows the power that art has to address the foundational questions of human
existence. Political scientists and scholars of religion would do well to attend to
the political and theological import of art and literature that Balthasar extols.


Between Pacifism and Jihad: Just War and Christian Tradition. By J. Daryl
Charles. Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press, 2005. np.

Is the concept of just war an oxymoron? How does war beget peace? With
the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and the current Iraqi war, these
questions have been thrust upon the world. Many Christians answer with a
battle cry which calls for a scorched earth policy of all countries that harbor
democracys enemies. Other Christians believe that vengeance is Gods alone
and thus to retaliate is to sin. J. Daryl Charless book, Between Pacifism and
Jihad provides a middle position between these two opposite approaches.
Charles suggests that there is a mean between the two vices of pacifism on
the one hand and militarism on the other. In its attempt to uphold human
value, pacifists allow atrocities against themselves as well as against third
parties to go unchallenged militarily. Yet militarism commits the vice of
radically placing the value of the state above the individual, thus devaluing the
individual human life. On the one hand, pacifists do not provide an ability to
maintain order or protect the life they so value. On the other hand, the police
state so controls the individual that human dignity is also denied.
Charles argues that the church should not in all cases be counter cultural,
and that the Christian virtue of charity demands justice. Furthermore, he
asserts that peace without justice is not true peace. Justice, in fact, often
requires the use of coercive force. Charles concludes that true peace requires
a level of coercion. This coercion, however, is limited and should be