ETERNAL LIFE?: Life After Death as a Medical, Philosophical, and Theological Problem by Ham KÃœng

ETERNAL LIFE?: Life After Death as a Medical, Philosophical, and Theological Problem

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The KÃœng Formula--liberal-ecumenical Catholicism + encyclopedic range + un-pedantic clarity--applied more or less successfully to the Four Last Things: death, judgment, heaven, hell. As in Does God Exist? (1980) and his other books, KÃœng walks a narrow line between orthodoxy and accommodation to secular humanism: Yes, an intelligent person still has every fight to believe in eternal life, but the atheist (Feuerbach, Freud, Sartre) can disbelieve it just as reasonably and responsibly. The resurrection of Jesus was a real, but not a historical, event. One can affirm a personal God without a personal devil, heaven without hell--and to argue otherwise is to fall into a ""stupid dualistic systematization."" The traditional Christian focus on the world to come has its own legitimacy, but Christians must heed Nietzsche's injunction to be true to the earth. The moment of death is in God's hands, but in ours too, and ""assisted dying,"" active or passive, may be perfectly ethical. Faith has to have an eschatological dimension (the Marxist dream of a terrestrial paradise is doomed), but it can be explored only in the darkness of hope, since the Bible provides little except mythic images to satisfy our curiosity. And so on. KÃœng displays his usual careful common sense--e.g., he welcomes the beyond-the-fringe testimonies gathered by Raymond Moody, but denies that they prove anything. As always he's trying to show that religion can survive and profit from its critics' hardest shots, so long as it doesn't dodge them. He's not a graceful writer nor shy about repeating himself; but for the average, left-leaning, educated reader KÃœng offers a very respectable brand of Christian apologetics.

Pub Date: Feb. 17th, 1983
Publisher: Doubleday