On Being a Christian


Hans Kung here assesses the impact of other world religions, humanism, science, technology, and political revolutions; and sifting through the theological controversies within the Christian community itself, he affirms the vitality and uniqueness of Christianity by tracing it back to its roots -- the reality of the historical Christ.

But more than history or theology, On Being a Christian reexamines what it means to be a Christian today: the role of Christian ethics in a social ...

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Hans Kung here assesses the impact of other world religions, humanism, science, technology, and political revolutions; and sifting through the theological controversies within the Christian community itself, he affirms the vitality and uniqueness of Christianity by tracing it back to its roots -- the reality of the historical Christ.

But more than history or theology, On Being a Christian reexamines what it means to be a Christian today: the role of Christian ethics in a social and political context, the relationship between Christians and Jews, the organization of a community of believers, and practical suggestions for dealing with personal crises of faith. This image Books edition will reach even larger segments of the population for whom the book was written.

A landmark work, for both scholars and educated laity, On Being a Christian has become a small "Summa" of the Christian faith. "This is not another gospel," Kung contends, "but the same ancient gospel rediscovered for today!"

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780334025177
  • Publisher: Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
  • Publication date: 3/28/2012
  • Pages: 722
  • Sales rank: 1,501,524
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Hans Kung is a prominent Catholic Theologian, respected by thinkers of all denominations. He is well known around the world and has been Professor of Dogmatic and Ecumenical Studies at the University of Tubingen, Germany, as well as Visiting Professor at Chicago University and at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He holds honorary degrees from several American universities and has lectured at various universities in Europe, America, and Asia.

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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations 15
Translator's Foreword 17
Those for whom this book is written 19
A. The Horizon 23
I. The Challenge of Modern Humanisms 25
1. Turning to man 26
Secular world 26
Opening out of the Churches 28
2. Christianity for sale? 31
Has Christianity lost its soul? 31
No return 35
3. No abandonment of hope 37
Humanity through technological evolution? 38
Humanity through politico-social revolution? 43
Between nostalgia and reformism 51
II. The Other Dimension 57
1. Approach to God 57
Transcendence? 57
The future of religion 60
Proofs of God? 64
More than pure reason 68
2. The reality of God 69
The hypothesis 70
Reality 73
Ambiguity of the concept of God 79
The task of theology 83
III. The Challenge of the World Religions 89
1. Salvation outside the Church 89
Revalued religions 89
Wealth of the religions 91
2. Bewildering consequences 97
Anonymous Christianity? 97
Superior ignorance? 99
3. Challenge on both sides 100
No leveling down 100
Helpful diagnosis 104
4. Not exclusiveness, but uniqueness 110
Christian existence as critical catalyst 110
Common quest for truth 112
B. The Distinction 117
I. What Is Special to Christianity? 119
1. The Christ 119
Dangerous memory 119
Taking concepts at their face value 122
2. Which Christ? 126
The Christ of piety? 126
The Christ of dogma? 129
The Christ of the enthusiasts? 133
The Christ of literature? 138
II. The Real Christ 145
1. Not a myth 145
In time and place 146
Uncertainties 149
2. The documents 150
More than a biography 150
Committed testimonies 153
3. History and faith's certainty 155
Counterquestions about Jesus 156
Justifiable faith 161
Historical criticism--an aid to faith? 163
III. Christianity and Judaism 166
1. The sufferings of the past 166
Jesus the Jew 167
A history of blood and tears 168
2. Future possibilities 169
Increasing understanding 169
Diseussion about Jesus? 172
C. The Program 175
I. The Social Context 177
1. Establishment? 177
The religio-political system 177
Neither priest nor theologian 178
Not with the rulers 179
Radical change 180
2. Revolution? 183
The revolutionary movement 183
Hope of a liberator 185
Not a social revolutionary 187
Non-violent revolution 189
3. Emigration? 192
Apolitical radicalism 192
Monasticism 193
Not a religious 195
Not for the elite, but for all 200
4. Compromise? 201
The devout 202
Moral compromise 204
Not a pious legalist 206
Against self-righteousness 209
Provocative on all sides 211
II. God's Cause 214
1. The Center 214
God's kingdom 214
Apocalyptic horizon 216
Demythologizing inevitable 218
Between present and future 220
God is ahead 223
2. Miracles? 226
Concealing embarrassment 226
What really happened 229
What was transmitted 231
Christian science 233
Indications, not proofs 236
3. The supreme norm 238
No natural law 238
No revealed law 240
God's will instead of legalism 241
The meaning of the Sermon on the Mount 244
III. Man's Cause 249
1. Humanization of man 249
The changed awareness 249
What God wills 251
Relativized traditions, institutions, hierarchs 252
2. Action 255
Both God and man 255
The person who needs me here and now 256
Even enemies 258
True radicalism 262
3. Solidarity 265
Partisan for the handicapped 266
Which poor? 267
The moral failures 271
The law of grace 273
IV. The Conflict 278
1. The decision 278
Those who were for him 278
A Church? 283
Without office or dignity 286
The advocate 291
2. The debate on God 295
Not a new God 295
The God with a human face 300
The God with qualities 304
Revolution in the understanding of God 309
Not an obvious form of address 314
3. The end 318
In face of death 319
A last meal 322
Stages 325
Why? 334
In vain? 339
V. The New Life 343
1. The beginning 343
Introduction 343
Clarifications 348
The ultimate reality 356
Legends? 361
Origin of faith 370
2. The criterion 381
Justified 381
Honorific titles 384
Representation 389
The definitive standard 392
3. The ultimate distinction 396
Revaluation 396
Beyond fanaticism and rigidity 399
By faith alone 402
No other cause 406
VI. Interpretations 411
1. Discriminating interpretation 411
Limits to demythologization 412
Truth is not simply facticity 415
Narrative presentation and critical reflection 416
2. Interpretations of death 419
No uniform theory 419
Slain for us 421
Sacrifice? 424
God and suffering 428
3. Interpretations of the origin 436
Become man 436
Deification or humanization? 440
True God and true man 444
Born of a woman 450
Mary 457
VII. Community of Faith 463
1. Inspired and inspiring word 463
Inspiration? 463
Word of God? 466
2. The one Spirit 468
Unholy and holy Spirit 468
Trinity 472
3. The pluriform Church 478
Assembly, congregation, Church 478
Community in liberty, equality, fraternity 481
Charisms, offices, ministries 484
The diverse constitutions 488
A Petrine ministry? 494
4. The great mandate 502
Catholic-Protestant 502
Provisional Church 504
Serving Church 505
Guilty Church 507
Determined Church 508
D. Practice 511
I. The Practice of the Church 514
1. Decision for faith 514
A personal decision 514
Criticism of the Church 517
2. Decision for the Church 521
Why stay? 522
Practical suggestions 525
Against discouragement 527
Why can we hope? 529
II. Being Human and Being Christian 530
1. Norms of the human 530
Human autonomy 531
Man's theonomy 534
The unconditioned in the conditioned 536
Uncertainty of norms 539
2. The criterion for deciding what is Christian 540
Specifically Christian norms? 541
Concrete person instead of abstract principle 544
The distinctive Christian element in ethics 549
The basic model 551
III. Being Christian as Being Radically Human 554
1. Social relevance 554
No political short cuts 555
Social consequences 558
Commitment to liberation 562
No uncritical identifications 565
2. Coping with the negative side 570
Misused cross 571
Misunderstood cross 573
Understood cross 576
3. Liberated for freedom 581
Justification or social justice? 581
What is not ultimately important 583
What is ultimately important 586
4. Suggestions 590
Freedom in the legal order 590
Freedom in the struggle for power 593
Freedom from the pressure of consumption 595
Freedom to serve 598
Human existence transfigured in Christian existence 601
Basic Theological Literature 603
Section A 607
Section B 620
Section C 630
Section D 678
Index 688
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