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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astoundingly well thought out argument, 4 Oct 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Infallible? an Unresolved Enquiry (Paperback)
As usual, Hans Kung has produced yet another masterpiece, along the lines of his "The Church". Although this work has a very specific aim in mind, namely the discussion of the concept of papal infallibility, by neccessity it touches on several really important ecclesiological themes along the way.
His logic is crystal clear and faultless, without being tedious, and while not light reading, is also not difficult to read.
Highly highly recommended not only for its content, but also for its method.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant analysis of papal infallibility, 12 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Infallible? an Unresolved Enquiry (Paperback)
This is almost the only book ever to have been written analysing the Roman Catholic doctrine of the infallibility of the pope. This fact alone speaks volumes. The author, the Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Kung, is at his most incisive in this book where he sets out clearly and accurately the history and rationale of the doctrine of papal infallibility. His knowledge is vast and his comparisons of official Roman Catholicism with the various theological strands of protestantism are accurate and knowledgeable, in contrast to some conservative Catholic apologetic writing which deliberately simplifies and falsifies basic facts about protestant theology. I used to think that Kung was a Lutheran because most of his views are more characteristic of modern Lutheranism, but the fact is that he is a Catholic by churchmanship, though as he was far too radical in his critique of infallibility and the way it is upheld and in turn upholds conservative Catholic ecclesiology, mariology and the condemnation on artifical birth control, is is not surprising that his licence to teach theology at Tubingen was taken away 9 years after this book was first published. It is very important to realise that this occured in 1979 after being interrogated by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the head of the Roman Inquisition (the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith), the right-hand man of the then new Pope John Paul II. What is most impressive about Kung's writing in this book is that unlike a lot of self-styled liberals both within and outside the Catholic Church he does not deliberately set out to be rude and cynical, and though he states clearly that the reason for the issue of infallibility cropping up again in the late 1960s was its use by Paul VI to defend the ban on artificial birth control in his encyclical Humanae Vitae, he does not sensationalise this subject nor overrepresents it as the liberal media tend to do due to their imagining that sex is the only important thing about the Catholic Church's teaching. Readers only hoping for simplistic sensationalism about the Church will therefore be slightly disappointed. Kung is too serious to descend to those levels, but too radical for self-styled serious conservatives as well. The fact that he is one of the few twentieth-century theologians apart from Bonhoeffer to have become well-known to the general public does not mean that he is second-rate academically. It is very sad that no-one else has attempted a large-scale study of the doctrine of infallibility as it is of enormous practical importance for the Church. Perhaps theologians do not find it very interesting. It is also a very technical subject and has less sensation potential than the Catholic doctrines about the Virgin Mary.
I would recommend the following books to read in conjunction with this book in order to be able to understand modern Catholicism from the theological point of view:
Catholic Thought Since the Enlightenment: a Survey and The Theology of Joseph Ratzinger, both by Fr.Aidan Nichols OP. Also very helpful is the Vatican's official website which has all the documents of Vatican II (1962-1965) and all the documents of the popes from Leo XIII onwards...
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Infallible? an Unresolved Enquiry
Infallible? an Unresolved Enquiry by Hans Kueng (Paperback - 24 Jan 2012)
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