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Introduction to Christianity, 2nd Edition (Communio Books) Paperback – October 1, 2004
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Original Language: German --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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First drafted in the summer of 1967, this book is based on a series of lectures father Joseph Ratzinger gave to students at Germany's university at Tubingen. As if it were written just this morning, it centers on the timeless communications dilemma faced by any Christian, trying to speak about God to young people in today's world.
Writing the "Introduction to Christianity" 16 years after his ordination, the un-heralded priest from the land of Luther (who would one day have his arm twisted to remain in Rome for 24 years, by his predecessor as Pope) cited a famous story by Kierkegaard, about "the clown and the burning village" - to best sum up the difficulty faced by any Christian attempting to communicate theology to young people.
"According to the story," he wrote, "a travelling circus in Denmark had caught fire. The manager sent the clown, who was already dressed and made-up for the performance, into the neighboring village to fetch help, especially as there was a danger that the fire would spread across the fields of dry stubble and engulf the village itself. So, the clown hurried into the village and requested the inhabitants `come as quickly as possible' and help put the fire out.
"But the villagers took the clown's shouts simply for an excellent piece of advertising, meant to attract as many people as possible to the performance; they applauded the clown and laughed till they cried.Read more ›
This is a book for thinkers. It is not for people who have a simple faith (no less authentic, of course) but rather for people who spend a lot of time in their own minds analyzing and questioning. Former Prefect Ratzinger approaches Christianity unapologetically, as you would expect. He is very well read in psychology, world religions, philosophy, history, and probably everything else. He makes his points eloquently as one who is convicted about Truth.
I am still a little shocked. I expected the man to be a hard line conservative and hold to a very rigid and traditional point of view. He actually doesn't, instead he upholds the role of tradition in the face of modernism. He does not want to go back in time, but wants to move the Church forward using the time-tested truths of Christ in the Gospels. He brings to light the timeless voice of God for this and every generation.
I loved JPII, but I fear this man will be greater. Even though many are already aluding to his soon-to-be short pontificate, he was already well-known and instrumental many years before. He only needs to be here long enough for people to understand what he has already said, and to put a capstone on JP's theology which he heavily influenced. JPII denied his resignation three times, I think he knew the role that this man needed to play in the Church. It was providence and grace at work.
Ratzinger takes the approach for a framework generally from the construction of the ancient Apostles Creed - his first section begins with the 'I believe...' and continues to look at the implications of what faith and belief are in terms of philosophy and biblical witness. Ratzinger is educated in the dominant traditions of philosophy from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when Germany was the centre of such scholarship. Echoes of or reactions to thinkers such as Heidegger, Nietzsche, Husserl and others will be found here, as well as later thinkers in the post-modern area of critical analysis.
However, Ratzinger returns to the creedal foundation of doctrine, and the biblical underpinnings of the creeds as being more important than these philosophical developments (but never abandons the conversation with them). He proposes tentative defintions of faith and belief (one might hear the echo of Paul Tillich here, at least in general form if not in content), and looks at the foundations of dogma in the creeds.
His sections are on Doctrine of God, Christology, and Ecclesiology and Pneumatology; it is significant that he does not use these theological terms, but rather the more accessible God, Jesus Christ, The Church and the Spirit. The faith is meant to be accessible and comprehensible.
Ratzinger then goes line by line through the creeds as his headings, and proceeds to theologically analyse each assertion made.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Don't underestimate how densely packed with information this book is. I definitely found myself spending time trying to get through single paragraphs - and I really liked that! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Rifah R. Huq
I got this book, because Dr. Scott Hahn, thought it was great, even before he converted to Catholicism. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Superbly written, easily understandable and highly profound literary masterpiece. Written over three decades ago, it still resonates the importance of God in all our lives.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is certainly a magnificent introduction to Christianity. The core beliefs of Christians as formulated in its creeds is at the heart of this book. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Alfred Richardson
A little difficult to understand. Took careful reading but most profound. Up to the standards of a great pope who is well loved.Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
Probably one of the greatest books written. For anyone. But its serious. Bring your thinking cap.Published 13 months ago by Brendan Farrell