Friday, May 22, 2009

Christopher West needs to review 'basic aspects of his theology,' says dean of JP2 Institute

The Knights of Columbus's Headline Bistro Web site has published an op-ed by Dr. David Schindler, president of the John Paul II Institute in Washington, D.C., criticizing some of the teachings of the institute's most famous graduate, Theology of the Body speaker/author Christopher West.

Schindler notes that "West has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Church," but says he nonetheless "needs to subject basic aspects of his theology to renewed reflection."

Listing several examples of West's more outré teachings, Schindler says, " offer these examples not merely because they are vulgar and in bad taste, not to mention sometimes bordering on the just plain silly, but because they indicate a disordered approach to human sexuality."

Among his observations:

[A] style of preaching is not merely a matter of "style"–a difference in personality or taste. It is always-also a matter of theology itself. West often tends to treat resistance to the content of his lectures, for example during the question periods, as matters of resistance to the Holy Spirit (to the Spirit now speaking in and through West's “charism”), urging questioners to pray to overcome the fear induced in them by their bad theological-spiritual formation. Well-balanced persons have spoken of how West makes them feel a sense of guilt, of resistance to the Holy Spirit, if they experience uneasiness about what he is saying.

Pope Benedict XVI’s sacramental “style,” integrated within the objectivity of a larger truth that always first calls ourselves into question even as we preach to others, provides a helpful lesson here.
Read the whole thing.

Note: Last week, I invited West, through his publisher, to respond to Father Angelo Mary Geiger's post about his approach to teaching the theology of the body, but did not receive a response.