Born in 1927 in Germany as Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI has been head of the Roman Catholic Church since April 2005. A prolific author, theologian and university professor, Ratzinger served as an "expert" at the Second Vatican Council, and was tapped in 1977 by Pope Paul VI to lead the German Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. In 1981, Pope John Paul II called him to Rome to head the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he served until his papal election.
Faith and the Future is a small but powerful book that concisely introduces the contemporary reader to the best and, I'd argue, most socially- and politically-relevant of his thought in the 21st century. Here he especially examines the relationship between faith and hope, and what faith is (or should be) for the Christian today in the fallen world.
I would especially recommend this book to be read along with Pope Benedict's encyclical Spe Salvi as well as his older book, The Yes of Jesus Christ. But all in all, this is a must-read for Catholics and Christians alike seeking a deeper understanding of the relevance of faith for modern life.
An excerpt: "We are now in a position to say that this faith is essentially related to the future, that it is a promise. It signifies the superordination of the future over the present, and the readiness to sacrifice the present for the sake of the future. It signifies life lived in the spirit of trust. It signifies the certainty that it is God who guarantees man his future. Thus it signifies a breaking out of the calculable, everyday world to make contact with what is eternal; it signifies man's interest in eternal things and in the Eternal. It signifies the bold realization that man can have dealings with the Eternal, and is not confined within a petty meanness of heart, that will not look beyond its immediate surroundings nor give itself credit for the greatness which sees that there might be more to human life than bread for tomorrow and money for the day after tomorrow."
"Faith and the Future" brings together a series of radio addresses given by then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
I want to share one quote from the book because I think it serves as an excellent summary of the main thesis of the book:
"...I maintain that reflection upon history, properly understood, embraces both looking back into the past and, with that as the starting point, reflecting on the possibilities and tasks of the future, which can only become clear if we survey a fairly long stretch of the road and do not naively shut ourselves up in the present. Looking back into the past does not yield a prediction of the future, but it limits our illusion of complete uniqueness and shows us that while exactly the same did not happen before, something very similar did."
In the first chapter of the book "Faith and Knowledge", Pope Benedict XVI largely raises and acknowledges already asked questions of the faith. He doesn't really try to answer them in this chapter, but it's very helpful in that he asks a number of questions which I had never considered. I think it also demonstrates that great sense of care, thoroughness, and thoughtfulness of Pope Benedict XVI as a theologian and scholar.
The second chapter is titled "Faith and Existence" and it was extremely helpful in the treatment of Abraham as a model of faith for today. I don't want to give any spoilers, but I found this portion the book to be the most helpful and exciting to read.
The third chapter, "Faith and Philosophy", is largely a treatment of the major issues of philosophy that have shaped how we approach the faith.Read more ›
My fear was that Faith and the Future would be relatively dated. But Joseph Ratzinger's 1970 work clearly shows the dictatorship of relativism was not just a fancy term he coined in 2005; quashing it has been his lifelong goal, especially after the 1968 revolution, of which this work is a refutation. Again and again Ratzinger does not shy from taking on man's rejection of God and here is one of his best. It is Ratzinger unleashed. There was a moment at its outset that he paints a scene so terrifyingly convincing against God it looks for a moment there is no way he is going to get out of his own corner. But it's a testament to Ratzinger the writer that he so deftly handles such a setup. "In no way is the adventure of human life to be mastered. It is the very toughness of this adventure that makes it beautiful." And: "The city of man is beginning to strike terror into our hearts -- it could become the tombstone of humanity." Finally: "The road to the moon is easier to find than the road to man himself." Written two years after the July 1968 moon landing, Ratzinger was predicting an era of unraveling; a prophet who would live through his own prophecy, Ratzinger would continue due battle with secularism through the end of his pontificate. A must for students of the Prophet from Bavaria.
This is a so so book, but one that has been deceptively and cleverly marketed. Unfortunately thats bad news to the unsuspecting book buyer who assumes this is a 2009 publication. Most probably, this 1970 book was resurrected as a title in english reprint because it was intended to ride the coat tails of the hugely successful 2008 'Jesus of Nazareth' by Pope Benedict. But it is a fairly lackluster book.
This book derives from a series of Radio Talks in 1969/70. It deals philosophically with the issue of Faith, with the last chapter being titled 'What Will the Church Look Like in 2000?' which relates to the title of the book. Predominantly the book deals with contemporary 'modern' philosophers from the last 100+ years and how current philosophical trends which predominate have almost destroyed philosophy as it deals with faith and even God. Or alternatively, how philosophical trends/thoughts have almost destroyed faith in our society. The book significantly deals with the persons, quotes, conclusions and criticisms of those prominent within Philosophy and would sound quite droning for the general reader, as I found it. On the other hand I normally find books on the philosophies of 'Modernism' and 'Liberalism' to be quite interesting, but this book didn't do it for me.
This is a so so book as what it contains could have been properly digested down to a magazine length article with a near equivalent buildup and conclusion, at least for the general reader. The conclusion or last chapter 'What Will the Church Look Like in 2000?' elucidates of a smaller church and saints being necessary.Read more ›