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Introduction to Christianity (Communio Books) Paperback – 1 Dec 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press; Revised edition edition (1 Dec. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586170295
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586170295
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 240,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, was for over two decades The Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope John Paul II. He is the author of Spirit of the Liturgy, Salt of the Earth, Introduction to Christianity, God and the World, Milestones, Called to Communion, God Is Near Us, and many other works published by Ignatius Press.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
The title "Introduction to Christianity" is a misnomer. This is not an introduction for those unfamiliar with Christianity. It is a study of the biblical, philosophical and rational beliefs which make up the Christian faith.

This book begins with a study of faith in the world today, followed by the form of faith offered by the Church. He presents the tenets of the Apostles Creed, line by line. In so doing he draws on the Bible, the writings of theologians and literary figures throughout the ages as well as his own reflections. He explains the meanings of the portions of the Creed. The reader is introduced to differing interpretations of some of the clauses. An example of this is the theology of the Incarnation, meaning that God becoming man is the most important fact, versus the theology of the Cross, which emphasizes the actions of Jesus. His Holiness examines difficulties, real and apparent, in the texts and concepts about them. For some he is able to provide guidance to what he regards as the correct conclusion, for others he just leaves the difficulty for our discernment.

To my way of thinking, this is a deep book. For those with more theological training than me, it may be an introduction. Although it is deep, it is also rewarding. It has opened my eyes to new interpretations of the Creed. It has led me to think deeply about God and His relation to man and our relations to each other. I am sure that I will think often about what I have learned from this book and will refer to it in the future. For anyone with a reasonable background in theology and a desire to understand our call from God, this book is outstanding. It is, simply, one of the best books that I have ever read.
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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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Format: Paperback
Written 40 years ago by Ratzinger, this book still resonates with the times. In itself, this shows that Ratzinger is focused on what really matters in the Christian mystery - he nevers gets side tracked into going down blind and fruitless alleys. It is only on my second reading of this book that I began to see how important a book this is. This book is an important exploration of the nature of belief and of the articles of belief set down in the Apostles creed. I believe that in this book Ratzinger surpasses his mentors, namely De Lubac and von Balthasar. His analysis of the kenosis of Christ is particularly impressive, Christ "being from" and "being for".

Ratzinger first deals squarely with belief and points out that it is within the context of doubt that the theist and the atheist can enter into dialogue. After all, the Christian believes; he does not see. Likewise, the atheists "sees" what is optical and does not believe in what cannot be empirically verified. But, both the Christian and the atheist, if he is honest, must have doubts about the nature of his belief or non-belief. There must be times when the atheist says: "yet perhaps it is true (page 46).

For Ratzinger the word credo means:

"man does not regard seeing, hearing and touching as the totality of what concerns him, that he does not view the area of his world as marked off by what he can see and touch but seeks a second mode of access to reality, a mode he calls in fact belief, and in such a way that he finds in it the decisive enlargement of his whole view of the world" (page 50).

For Ratzinger the radicality of Christianity is that "God has come so near to us that we can kill him and that he thereby, so it seems, ceases to be God for us".
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