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Protestant Metaphysics After Kark Barth and Martin Heidegger (Veritas) Paperback – 19 Apr 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: SCM Press (19 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0334043476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0334043478
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,727,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

In light of this impressive reading of a particularly Protestant metaphysic, the book offers itself as an essential text for anyone interested in plotting the development of Protestant theology, but also the particularities of the interplay between philosophy and theology at a general level. All in all, this book could well be the most important work of creative Protestant metaphysics of recent decades, recommending Timothy Stanley as an exciting new prospect in the Anglo-American theological sphere. (Jon Mackenzie)

About the Author

Dr Timothy Stanley is a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Christianity and Contemporary Culture in the Centre for Religion and Political Culture at the University of Manchester.

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Format: Paperback
Timothy Stanley, Protestant Metaphysics After Karl Barth and Martin Heidegger.

Bridge-building can be risky in process and consequences. Those on opposite sides may not welcome direct exchanges. Timothy Stanley succeeds in building bridges which are needed and so are (or should be) very welcome. Bridges should not be equated with compromise or confusion, especially when encouraging responsible exchanges. Figurative ramifications of bridges and bridge-building attracted both Barth and Heidegger, not forgetting versions of the supreme bridge-builder (pontifex maximus) of Rome. Stanley, however, does not pontificate.

Stanley's bridges stretch between three main sites, triangularly: between a lively (plurivocal) movement in current Christian theology, labelled Radical Orthodoxy; one of the most controversial and elusive of recent philosophers, Martin Heidegger; and one of the boldest Christian theologians of the same century - Karl Barth. Some of the radically orthodox have tended to be suspicious of Protestantism in general and Barth in particular, while seeming to some, including Timothy Stanley and Stanley Hauerwas, to protest too strongly about their radically orthodox difference. Heidegger, brought up a Roman Catholic, was influenced by (amongst others) Paul and Luther, and sounds at times somewhat like them and Barth in his radical denunciation of `metaphysics' and avowals of separation between faith and philosophy. Barth, a radical Reformed and reforming Protestant, says little explicitly about Heidegger. However, Barth is clearly interested in Heidegger. Moreover, Barth, differently yet similarly, aims to acknowledge being and time, and act and being, as woven together in the living God.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timothy Stanley: Protestant Metaphysics After Karl Barth and Martin Heidegger 24 May 2010
By Ian Mcpherson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Timothy Stanley, Protestant Metaphysics After Karl Barth and Martin Heidegger.

Bridge-building can be risky in process and consequences. Those on opposite sides may not welcome direct exchanges. Timothy Stanley succeeds in building bridges which are needed and so are (or should be) very welcome. Bridges should not be equated with compromise or confusion, especially when encouraging responsible exchanges. Figurative ramifications of bridges and bridge-building attracted both Barth and Heidegger, not forgetting versions of the supreme bridge-builder (pontifex maximus) of Rome. Stanley, however, does not pontificate.

Stanley's bridges stretch between three main sites, triangularly: between a lively (plurivocal) movement in current Christian theology, labelled Radical Orthodoxy; one of the most controversial and elusive of recent philosophers, Martin Heidegger; and one of the boldest Christian theologians of the same century - Karl Barth. Some of the radically orthodox have tended to be suspicious of Protestantism in general and Barth in particular, while seeming to some, including Timothy Stanley and Stanley Hauerwas, to protest too strongly about their radically orthodox difference. Heidegger, brought up a Roman Catholic, was influenced by (amongst others) Paul and Luther, and sounds at times somewhat like them and Barth in his radical denunciation of `metaphysics' and avowals of separation between faith and philosophy. Barth, a radical Reformed and reforming Protestant, says little explicitly about Heidegger. However, Barth is clearly interested in Heidegger. Moreover, Barth, differently yet similarly, aims to acknowledge being and time, and act and being, as woven together in the living God. For Barth, the Holy One, who reveals and shares his mystery in Christ, calls for and gives ecumenical hope that all may live and move and have their being as participants in the triune God.

Most of this book explores Barth's theological and Christological ontology, suggesting judiciously some similarities to, and differences from, Heidegger, as well as Radical Orthodoxy. Perhaps consideration of Heidegger serves as a catalyst for reconsidering relations between the other two. Barth and Heidegger seem somewhat more similar to each other in their earlier years, when Barth's explosive second-edition commentary on Paul's Epistle to the Romans was highly influential, and when diverse thinkers associated with Barth were labelled as dialectical theologians. The young Heidegger was, for a time, connected with these circles, not least because of a shared affinity for the young Luther.

At that time Barth stressed what he called the otherness of God over against the world (creation) apparently dominated by sinful humanity. Critics have alleged this account of God's otherness over against the world's otherness wavers too close to a metaphysical or theological dualism, with redemption (as reversal) swerving towards some version of monism or pantheism. Some recall Hegel's criticism of `the bad infinite' which, despite its apparent otherness, is nevertheless dependent on, or inter-dependent with, the finite beings which it supposedly transcends. Whether the younger Barth really fell into this double-bind of dualism versus pantheism, or simply explored it with an empathy not credibly turning into Christian constancy, need not be settled here, as Stanley recognises.

What Stanley does, however, is suggest, with an opening gambit or teacher's tactical move, that Heidegger and Barth at this stage shared the same cluster of problems, this being close to what Heidegger meant by the ontological difference between being and beings. Stanley also makes good use of evidence that the younger Barth and Heidegger were similarly preoccupied by Luther's theology of the cross, and that Luther's ambiguous account of the hidden God lends some support to dualism. Stanley also shows how Luther does not fit the allegedly Protestant and anti-ontological stereotypes on which Radical Orthodoxy has tended to rely.

Stanley introduces enough Heidegger to help readers unfamiliar with him to make sufficient sense of Heidegger's ontological difference and associated critique of onto-theology for betraying this difference, issuing in critique of many versions of theology for collusion with metaphysics, philosophical theology and ontology.. As Stanley explains, in the wake of these aspects of Heidegger, many others currently stress what they see as a need for God without being, or faith without any metaphysical philosophy. Surprisingly, some of those labelled as radically orthodox, and some of those labelled as Barthians, have tended to read Barth as a whole in such ways. Probably because Stanley is so engaged in explaining why such readings of Barth amount to caricatures, he seems not to have space to develop his account of the later Heidegger. For Heidegger may well have modified his earlier attempts to articulate the ontological difference, as implied for example by Julian Young in chapter one of his book on the later Heidegger, and in explaining Heidegger's later meditations on the fourfold.

Instead, Stanley unfolds an importantly coherent re-reading of Barth's development, focussing on his Anselm book and Church Dogmatics. Stanley's re-reading makes impressive use of Eberhard Busch's essay on Barth's great theme, `God is God', while critically and constructively reviewing relevant controversies, including Balthasar and McCormack on analogy and dialectic, and Hunsinger and McCormack on God's election. All this shows how the living, triune God differs differently from the `divinities' of dualism and pantheism. Rather than attempting too much in this book, Stanley promises us his next book will develop further what all this implies for the being of the church. Perhaps such development may include engagement with John Zizioulas and William Desmond, amongst others? Overall, this is a book of rich and rare promise, as well as attractive achievements. I recommend you try these bridges and improve your bridge-building.

Longer reviews will include my equally positive contribution for the International Journal of Systematic Theology (2011).
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