Ignatius Press removes review of Ralph Martin book from website because it criticizes von Balthasar

Want to read the review of Ralph Martin’s book Will Many Be Saved? that David Paul Deavel published in Catholic World Report? You can’t—at least, not on CWR’s website. Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius Press, which owns CWR, took down the review in an act that he himself admits is “blatant censorship.”

The reason? Because Martin’s book, and Deavel’s review, include trenchant criticisms of the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar—who is published by Ignatius Press.

Brumley writes:

If you’re looking for the review, “Vatican II and the ‘Bad News’ of the Gospel”, it has been removed. This is blatant censorship by me, Mark Brumley, President of Ignatius Press. Except, of course, that Catholic World Report is published by Ignatius Press to further the mission of Ignatius Press. I think that gives me some leeway in deciding whether a particular article furthers the mission or perhaps in some ways undercuts that mission. Because I’m not infallible, I can be wrong. But right or wrong, I am acting here.

He goes on to criticize Deavel’s account of Balthasar’s views as inadequate and inaccurate, and says CWR is considering replacing the review with “a forum on the subject of Vatican II and salvation.”

[In light of correspondence with Dr. Deavel, I have removed the link to a Freezepage of his review and have removed the quotation from his review. See "UPDATE #2" below.]

UPDATE: Mark Brumley responds in the comments section of this post:

We can’t manage to try to have a wider, fuller discussion among Catholics without accusations and overstatement. We have to make this into a fight, with paragraphs “too hot to handle”, etc. By the way, where did I say the review was removed because of trenchant criticism of Balthasar’s theology? That’s a conclusion drawn regarding my motives. Perhaps I thought the review’s criticisms were inadequate or inaccurate, and that’s why they were removed? In other words, what I said. But we can’t accept that. Perhaps I thought, for good or ill, the criticisms should be part of a wider discussion. Again, which is what I actually said. Would that be too generous a thing to consider? Oh well.

UPDATE #2, 4/3/13, 6:26 p.m.: After reading Mark Brumley’s comment on this blog and his additional remarks on the CWR site, I contacted Dr. David Paul Deavel to ask if he would like me to remove the link to his review. He responded that he did not consider my linking to his review to be unethical. Nonetheless, he suggested  I remove the link in the interest of peace, and he assured me  he will get his say in the symposium that Catholic World Report is holding on Martin’s book. Hence, in the interest of peace and with the assurance that justice will be done, I have removed the link and the quotation from his review.

  • Scott W

    Thanks Dawn!

  • antonio

    “Martin’s brief against him shows, however, that on his professed “theological hope” for universal salvation (best glimpsed in his book Dare We Hope That All Be Saved?), Balthasar has a tendency to ignore and occasionally mischaracterize his sources. Martin offers devastating critiques of Balthasar’s use of Scripture, the Fathers, and indeed logic. Balthasar quotes scriptural passages without even their immediate context, adduces witnesses who do not say what they purportedly say (e.g., Maximus the Confessor’s supposed embrace of universalism), and claims that one cannot love people sincerely if one believes that anyone could possibly reject God—the last a strange claim indeed given his view that the saints stand high as theological authorities. Finally, he seems to back up his positions with rather extravagant extra-biblical speculations about conversions in hell. ”

    Martin then accuses Balthasar of uncritical readings of scripture and tradition, but one can accuse Deavel as well of uncritically accepting all that Martin says on Balthasar. Martin hardly makes a dent on Balthasar’s readings; a chapter is not enough to dismiss Balthasar’s positions, given the thousands of pages he has written on the subject and on its network of relationships with other theological topics. [Ad hominem removed. Please do not leave ad hominems if you wish to continue commenting. - Dawn]

  • http://www.catholicworldreport.com Mark Brumley

    We can’t manage to try to have a wider, fuller discussion among Catholics without accusations and overstatement. We have to make this into a fight, with paragraphs “too hot to handle”, etc. By the way, where did I say the review was removed because of trenchant criticism of Balthasar’s theology? That’s a conclusion drawn regarding my motives. Perhaps I thought the review’s criticisms were inadequate or inaccurate, and that’s why they were removed? In other words, what I said. But we can’t accept that. Perhaps I thought, for good or ill, the criticisms should be part of a wider discussion. Again, which is what I actually said. Would that be too generous a thing to consider? Oh well.

  • http://twitter.com/MrsKrishan Clare Krishan

    Dawn, my first comment (pre-chiral) is stuck in the spam filter “freezer” – I think it may add something to the discussion, particularly in light of your update, please consider “thawing” it out for public consumption if you agree? Cheerio!

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  • Bill bannon

    I would caution people on Rahner… that he is often criticized sans quotations as in the above quote and when you actually read him, it is unthinkable that he really said we must stop telling people the bad news period. He could have said that stressing the bad news like hell more than the good news like God’s loving help is not the proportions found in Christ. I once saw a Catholic leader ascribe an acceptance of polygamy to Rahner with no quotes and much later I came across the passage in Rahner and it involved working slowly in the mission setting pastorally with centuries old defective beliefs like polygamy rather than denounce same as soon as one sets up a mission on day one. What was counsel against abruptness became heretical belief in polygamy.
    Rahner also writes in a prolix German style that often corrects impressions he left hanging in the air two pages back. That also makes even short quotes from him misleading but usually as above, there are no words of Rahner cited…short or long.

    • http://commonsensecatholicism.blogspot.com Kevin

      Well if Rahner is getting a bad shake, isn’t it up to the person saying so to document why this is such?

      • Bill bannon

        Kevin,
        No….the accuser Martin has the responsibility to cite sources when he makes an accusation like this one: ” Balthasar and Rahner and many of their followers believed that the Church’s missions would be successful only if we could stop telling people the bad news.”
        If the accuser, Martin, in a published book, does not have to cite sources, then he, Martin, could make ten accusations against Rahner and you, Kevin, would have to believe each one according to your model until you could research the thousands of pages Rahner wrote to disprove the unsourced accusations. It took me a long while to undo the polygamy accusation against him simply by finally coincidentally coming across the real polygamy comment. The accuser knows, unless he is guessing, where the passage is….you the reader do not have that advantage. There are two Rahner books in this room; together they are 1100 pages and they are a small part of his writing.

        • Bill bannon

          Kevin,
          Here’s Ralph Martin: ” ” Balthasar and Rahner and many of their followers believed that the Church’s missions would be successful only if we could stop telling people the bad news.”

          Here’s Karl Rahner ” Our Christian Faith”/ “Eternal Damnation” Page 119-122
          ” Eschatological preaching today is certainly in danger of dying out; too little is said about eternity, about the way our history of freedom becomes final, or about God’s judgement.”

          So Ralph Martin was being inaccurate vis a vis Rahner…( maybe there’s a club).. Rahner goes on to say that he is against heaven and hell being presented impersonally as simply two possibles because God makes the Heaven possibility not more probable but stronger through His love even if whole towns reject that stronger love as in the case of His hometown where Christ could only cure several
          people ( Mark6:5).

          • Dawn Eden

            Bill, you’re quoting Deavel, not Martin.

          • Bill bannon

            Dawn,
            Sorry for mixing Martin with Deavel but Martin does the same thing on page 126 of his book:
            ” “It seems that Rahner in his overall theological work on this topic has reached the point that Newman says we can never legitimately reach—where the words of the gospel have become reversed—and the many headed towards destruction have now become the few, and the few headed to salvation have now become the many.”
            But Rahner like Balthasar is hoping for that and says one cannot know that for sure. Martin misses the fact that most people are ON THE ROAD to destruction but that need not be the figure that perishes due to God’s grace in cases of death bed repentance…ala the good thief. My position is not Rahner’s. I’m sure with Augustine and Chrysostom that Judas is in he’ll. Rahner, John Paul, and Benedict were not ( JPII…”Crossing the Threshold of Hope” page 186/Benedict Pope
            Benedict, General Audience Oct.18,2006).

          • Bill bannon

            Just a brief addition. Final destination is clearly not obscurely the theme of the parable of the five wise virgins and the five foolish virgins. But that gives us 50% saved and 50% lost…the exact proportions of the crucifixion thieves wherein one is saved and the other seems not to be though certitude about him is not clear but nothing hopeful said by Christ to him is not a great sign since Christ could have left us with that and did not. Ergo it is odd that the gates and roads passage gets the lion’s share of human attention….when the ten virgins passage is clearly about exact numbers
            though literally 50% 50% is not an exact answer either but it should temper the gates and road passage for those who take that passage to be about the gate to hell rather than the gate that leads to the broad road of sin which is still the way of the wayfarer…old age is a difficult human period that can correct by its punishments multitudes who traveled the broad road to destruction when younger. That may be the main function of old age.

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