Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Book Review

"Introduction to Christianity" (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) - This book was written in 1968, in German. I think something was lost in translation of the title. A better title would be, "The Epistemological Foundations of Christianity". Because, I don't think an "Introduction" should use big words and arguments based on philosophical first principles :)

That said, this book was solid, if a bit heavy and a little slow. The first section is on presuppositionalism, and was fairly well done. It was while reading this that I came to a better appreciation of how understanding is a gift, to be received.

Some oddities, page 245:
"For the salvation of the mere individual there would be no need of either a Church or a history of salvation, an Incarnation or Passion of God in this world."
I think this point reveals a difference of opinion in soteriology and the meaning of "church"... As well as judgment, page 324:
"judgment of all men 'according to their works'... Perhaps in the last analysis it is impossible to escape a paradox whose logic is completely disclosed only to an experience of a life based on faith."
Protestant soteriology breaks this paradox. We are saved from judgment as a gift of grace, in faith - turning (repenting) from sin, and trusting in Jesus. This enables truly good works, which will be judged for the awarding of "crowns" (heavenly rewards). Of course, the ability to do these works are, in themselves, gifts from God, and we return these crowns to God (Rev 4:10) - to glorify Him.

Although there is a good presentation on the state of human (works) righteousness, page 258:
"all human righteousness is dismissed as inadequate."
As well as proper exegesis of the Sermon on the Mount as a provoking of the conscience.

I think the most striking aspect of this book was how it seemed to speak to the current mindset of people, despite having been written forty years ago! Truly, an accurate analysis of where thinking at that time would lead us.

1 comment:

TheDen said...


Great review. I've read some of it but have not been able to finish it off.

If you have a chance, you should read his latest encyclicals on love and hope. They are outstanding.