Genevieve Kineke and Heidi Saxton have published in interesting conversation about Heidi’s article on Alice von Hildebrand’s critique of Christopher West.
I think Heidi goes too far in attributing the controversy to differences in background and the difference between the work of a philosopher and that of and evangelist.
The fact that AVH took such exception to CW describing TOB as “revolutionary” is a good example of the tension between ideas and finding points of connection. She interpreted “revolution” to mean a destruction of past Church teaching—which I do not believe CW believes.
Actually, from a philosophical point of view, I think that AVH has shown West to mean exactly what he says he means. “Revolution,” “theological time bomb” may be the terms of an evangelist, but they have implications in matters of truth. Either the philosophy and the popular message work together or they do not, and then one of them must be false. In any case, whether Heidi wants to believe that West sees TOB as a destruction of earlier Church teaching or not, both AVH, Dawn Eden and others have shown West to be innovating in ways that have no basis in the tradition. Hence when she says the following:
There is room for both schools of thought—so long as each is willing to be led by the Spirit, with humility and openness to change. . .
I have to say that she is ignoring the evidence, humility and openness to change notwithstanding.
I will agree that manner and content will differ to some extent between philosophers and evangelists, but the difference between AVH and West cannot be reduced to that or to differences in background. Put bluntly, West is inventing and AVH is not.
Interestingly, Christina King has attached an irrelevant comment to the discussion in opposition to Dawn Eden, for some reason, trying to distance the Theology of the Body Institute from Christopher West. That is a tough one to sell. I would like to know, how many of the speakers or board members of the Institute have spoken or published a critique of West’s work. On the other hand, how many speakers and organizers at the recent conference have publically defended his teaching?