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Mercy, what is mercy?
on 23 February 2015
It is without doubt an interesting work, but the central argument of mercy as God's fundamental and defining argument is unconvincing and it leaves a rather large theological hole as one might imagine.
Card. Kasper critiques the traditional metaphysical concepts of God while making his own metaphysical claims based on his reading of the biblical text. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this of course, but here again I found the argumentation unconvincing and indeed unsystematic, at times love and mercy seemed interchangeable words signifying the same concept, at other times they seemed distinct concepts, I expected more clarity and consistency from a german dogmatic theologian.
For me the crux of the matter is this: If mercy is a fundamental attribute of God, then from all eternity God needed someone to 'mercify' as it were. Mercy of course implies someone in need of forgiveness for sin/wrongs committed. Neither the Son, nor Spirit needed forgiveness nor mercy if they are(as we believe) eternally perfect, so then either God needed to made creation sinful because he needed to be merciful or mercy is an attribute which derives from his Love and justice, important yes(and gratefully received) but not fundamental. For me it is on this issue this book stands or falls! And ad far as I can see, it does not address these issues in any meaningful way. By this I am truly disappointed.
I have no problem following the millennial tradition as it currently stands, that mercy flows from God's Love (and Justice), but to change this conception the burden of proof lies with the good Cardinal and here he fails to adequately outline his ideas. I look forward to reading the revised expanded edition when it is published and I hope it will contain a more robust and systematic delineation of his thought.