8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Theology Degree Required !,
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This review is from: Introduction to Christianity (Communio Books) (Paperback)
As another reviewer pointed out , this book's title is a bit of a misnomer. It is not really an introduction to Christianity at all, more of a high brow discussion of the Apostles Creed which anyone unfamiliar with philosophy and theology will most likely find mainly incomprehensible. I studied a little philosophy at university and I have read the Bible, so I was able to follow the gist of the Pope's book, but I do not feel suitably qualified to comment on it critically.After reading this book I emerged quite impressed by the Pontiff's towering intellect and his depth of knowledge.I may be wrong , but in this book the Pope seems to advocate a sort of collectivist approach to faith with little emphasis on the primacy of individual conscience. Faith must be part of a group consciousness he appears to be saying , or else it's not proper faith at all.Believing in Christ should entail us all losing our individuality within a group consciousness , namely his Church. I would disagree with this outlook. For me faith and personal salvation is an individual matter and freedom of conscience and freedom from collectivist mind control is essential for true Christianity to flourish. Once we have "group minds" and the oppression of non-conformists and dissenters, we have satanic persecution on our hands. Of course that is increasingly becoming the reality of life today. I gave this book a 2 star rating solely because I do not think it is a suitable introduction for anyone wanting to find out more about Christianity. It is well written by an extremely intelligent philosopher and should be read by those with a similar academic background.
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Initial post: 3 Sep 2011 15:54:32 BDT
Kevin Smith says:
Hi, I understand your fear here but I think you are mistaken on two levels: One, Cardinal Ratzinger does not argue that we need to enter into some collectivist anonymity. His emphasis throughout is on the personal relationship of the individual believer with the God who is personal. There is no space for anonymity in Cardinal Ratzingers understanding of faith, as is showin in his discussion of the God who manifests His power by being united with even the smallest and least powerful thing, in the Crib and on the Cross.
Secondly, when Cardinal Ratzinger speaks of the Ecclesial Form of Faith, what he speaks of is not any sort of eradication of the individual, but rather a group of persons who believe together. I would argue that this is consonant with both the Pauline and Johannine understanding of the Church: a group of people who believe in unity. Although there are Pauline passages about the individual assent of faith, these are balanced by the Pauline soteriology of the Body of Christ, and the 'New Man', who is not new men, but one whole, unified new man. If we believe things that are radically different or contradictory - a possibility which is implied in the notion of individual conscience being sovereign - then how can we be part of the same body, the same faith, (Eph 4).
Thirdly, I think the mentality of the individual being sovereign and salvation being an individual matter is itself rooted in an understanding which is 'traditional', that is handed on from one to another. the Evangelical understanding of salvation is just as much passed on by a community of conformnity as any other.
Thanks, Kevin Smith, email@example.com
Blessed be Jesus!
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