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Introduction to Christianity, 2nd Edition (Communio Books) Paperback – October 1, 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

On April 19, 2005, CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER was elected POPE BENEDICT XVI and became the 264th successor to Peter as the "Vicar of Jesus Christ." He may well be the most accomplished theologian to be elected Pope in modern times. Beginning in 1981 he spent over 20 years as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a role often depicted as the "defender of the faith." Cardinal Ratzinger was also President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and of the Preparatory Commission that codified the new "Catechism of the Catholic Church," published in 1994.

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Product Details

  • Series: Communio Books
  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press; Revised edition (October 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586170295
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586170295
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mark Blackburn on April 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
10 years ago when I was considering whether to convert to my wife's faith, a Baptist minister friend singled out this book as one of his own, all-time favorites - the one that best lived up to its title, as an "Introduction to Christianity."

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.
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Format: Paperback
This is my my second review on one of the Pope's books. I read "Salt of the Earth" first and that should really be your starting point as it is very readable, the tone is conversational. BTW, this is the first edition, pick up the 2nd edition at the Ignatius website, the new preface is worth it.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Perhaps given the situation with Cardinal Ratzinger becoming the newly-elected Pope Benedict XVI, no better book could be read as an insight into the general directions of the man than this - a text intended for use as a introductory textbook on Christian theology.

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.
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