Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Limits of Political Theology
Cover of Political Science Reviewer 46.1


Hans Urs von Balthasar
Carl Schmitt
political theology

How to Cite

Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Limits of Political Theology. (2022). The Political Science Reviewer, 46(1), 179-208. https://politicalsciencereviewer.wisc.edu/index.php/psr/article/view/699


This article demonstrates how Hans Urs von Balthasar’s theology of love, which he claims is the only “credible” alternative to older theological conceptions whose organizing principles are no longer plausible justifications for belief, cannot operate as a political theology. This impossibility raises questions of credibility for the field of political theology as a whole. To demonstrate this challenge, the article compares Balthasar’s theology to three major concepts of political theology: the friend-enemy distinction, sovereignty, and the totality of the political. The article concludes by arguing that the only possible, credible approaches to political theology would be limited ones—ones which do not claim to combine or identify politics with theology, which do not claim to explain the whole of reality via politics, and which are aware of and content within the proper limits of this methodology.