Round two

Round two July 28, 2022

David Bentley Hart is fun to tangle with. When you disagree with him, you get treated to sesquipedalian name-calling. You also learn new things about yourself. In my case, I have discovered that I am, as he puts it so delicately, “truculent,” “incompetent,” “slovenly,” and “rhetorically violent.”

But in defending his book Tradition and Apocalypse against my “ludicrously inaccurate” review, David Bentley Hart only confirms my accuracy. When he insists that his book “is a defense of tradition” against my charge that he declares the Christian tradition bankrupt, we are tempted to ask which tradition he thinks he is defending. For it is a strange defense of Christian tradition to say that until the apocalypse it is “nothing more than an impenetrable enigma,” that the “Jesus of history” and the “Christ of faith” have no “convincing synthesis,” that the so-called “intrinsic unity” of Christian tradition “is an illusion—or even perhaps a lie,” that “the dogmatic content of tradition . . . appears to be full of odd disjunctions and contradictions,” and that “perhaps, of course, the entire tale is an illusion at the end of the day, a fable Christians have told themselves over the centuries in order to carry themselves through the dark places of this world.”

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