Introduction to Christianity by Joseph Ratzinger

(San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1968/2004), 388

Truth is the only ground suitable for man to stand upon (76).

All men of all ages must wrestle with belief. Modernity struggles with belief because of its aversion to tradition and attraction to a scientific-technical worldview concerned only with facts. Belief appreciates and includes facts, but moves beyond this to all of reality, including the meaning received from above. Christian belief rests in the meaning that knows me and loves me, the logos, Jesus of Nazareth.

The Creed's roots are in the dialogue of the baptismal rite expressing the fundamental Christian belief in the Trinity. This dialogue demonstrates the communal aspect of faith and how the Creed is an instrument of unity.

Christian belief in God grows out of Israel and embraces the entire human experience, uniting philosophy and religious practice in monotheism. Similar to polytheism, our idolatry against the Christian God tempts us to make absolutes out of things that are not. The belief in the Christian God has important implications for practical life, including politics and marriage.

The Biblical God is understood in terms of the name he revealed to men, a revelation that makes him both personal and available to men.

Christianity inherited the philosophical understanding of God as the logos, and elevated it by showing that the almighty being is also powerful in his smallness and concern for each man.

We recognize God as both thought (logos) and love (giving us freedom).

We can learn about the Trinity from the heresies that show us aspects of what it is not, and we must of course recognize that God is a mystery beyond our comprehension. But we can also come to an understanding of the Trinity grounded in the relationship of the Divine Persons.

All of history, and all of Christianity, centers around the person of Jesus Christ. There is a great unity in Christ of truth, relationship, love: he is his teaching. Christ is the great self-gift of God, and Christianity is a movement out of oneself for others.

Being a Christian means essentially changing over form being for oneself to being for one another (252).

The essential form of Christian worship is therefore rightly called Eucharistia, Thanksgiving (283).

Notes


Contents


PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION

  • Christianity failed in 1968 and 1989 too make itself heard as an "epoch-making alternative" (11)...it needs to rediscover its voice to be a guide to the third millennium (12)
  • Man is a politcal being, but cannot be reduced to politics and economics in the line of Marx and Liberation Theology (16)
  • The relativism of religion (20)

The rediscovery of religion, however, has another side to it. We have already seen that this trend looks for religion as an experience, that the "mystical" aspect of religion is an important part of it: religion that offers me contact with the entirely Other. In our historical situation, this means that the mystical religions of Asia (parts of Hinduism and of Buddhism), with their renunciation of dogma and their minimal degree of institutionalization, appear to be more suitable for enlightened humanity than dogmatically determined and institutionally structured Christianity. In general, however, the result is that individual religions are relativized; for all the differences and, yes, the contradictions among these various sorts of belief, the only thing that matters, ultimately, is the inside of all these different forms, the contact with the ineffable, with the hidden mystery. And to a great extent people agree that this mystery is not completely manifested in any one form of revelation, that it is always glimpsed in random and fragmentary ways and yet is always sought as one and the same thing. That we cannot know God himself, that everything that can be stated and described can only be a symbol: this is nothing short of a fundamental certainty of modern man, which he also understands somehow as his humility in the presence of the infinite. Associated with this relativizing is the notion of a great peace among religions, which recognize each other as different ways of reflecting the one Eternal Being and should leave up to the individual which path he will grope along to find the One who nevertheless unites them all. Through such a relativizing process, the Christian faith is radically changed...

  • Memorize the schema: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Dt-06-9
  • "Deleting faith in God ultimately deprives moral values of their grounding." (27)

PREFACE TO THE 1968 EDITION

  • He laments the watering down of faith in recent years (31)

PREFACE TO THE 1969 EDITION

INTRODUCTION: "I BELIEVE-AMEN"

Chapter 1: BELIEF IN THE WORLD OF TODAY

Summary: All men of all ages must wrestle with belief. Modernity struggles with belief because of its aversion to tradition and attraction to a scientific-technical worldview concerned only with facts. Belief appreciates and includes facts, but moves beyond this to all of reality, including the meaning received from above. Christian belief rests in the meaning that knows me and loves me, the logos, Jesus of Nazareth.

1. Doubt and belief—Man's situation before the question of God

  • We don't have a common understanding to talk about belief today: it's like the clown and the burning village in The Secular City by Harvey Cox bib, and the theologian can't get people to take his message seriously (39)
  • We can't just "put on the clothes of the world" to be taken seriously (41), and our own faith is fragile and incomplete (42)
  • An image that describes our plight as believers today comes from Soulier de Satin by Paul Claudel bib: we are "fastened to the cross—with the cross fastened to nothing, drifting over the abyss" (43-44)
  • But the unbeliever is similarly tempted to unbelief of his own unbelief. This challenge of belief is common to all men by nature (45)
  • The common "unceasing rivalry between doubt and belief" can be an avenue of connection between believers and non-believers (47)

2. The origin of belief—Provisional attempt at a definition of belief

  • The Apostles' Creed is the original "introduction to Christianity" and the guiding thread in this work (48)
    • → as it is in the CCC which he helped create 20 years later!
  • Belief is a recognition of the reality of the world beyond the immediately visible (50)
  • We only come to belief by turning around, by "con-version" (51)
  • The challenge of belief is not unique to the scientific world today; it has always been a leap beyond visible reality (51)

3. The dilemma of belief in the world of today

  • Aversion to tradition prevents belief today (54), and true Christian belief makes real claims that might offend (56)
  • In Christianity, God is revealed in history and made known to man (54 cf. Jn-01: "No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.")

4. The boundary of the modern understanding of reality and the place of belief

  • Modernity has settled on the scientific attitude (a combination of mathematical and factual thinking) as the default way of understanding the world (57-58)
  • The birth of the historical approach (58):
    • The ancient understanding is "it is true because God thought it" (thinking and making are the same)
    • Descartes (early modernity) says that certainty is the purely formal intellectual purged of the uncertainties of the factual (mathematical certainty)
    • Vico marked the transition to a modern attitude by saying "it is true if we made it" (truth in mathematics and history); replaced thinking about being with history
    • Other thinkers came to see their disciplines through the lens of history: philosophy for Hegel and Comte, theology for F.C. Baur; economics for Marx
  • The turn toward technical thinking (63):
    • The next turn, by Marx is that we must change the world. We used to be focused on the eternal, then the past, now the future
    • This leads to the manipulation of man by his own planning and the reduction of man to a "fact"
  • The question of the place of belief (66):
    • Christianity has a decisive connection to the forces of modernity (history and making the world better), and must rise to the challenge of filling in the blind spots of past periods of theological reflection

5. Faith as standing firm and understanding

  • Heidegger: there are two attitudes of relating to reality that operate on different planes are are both necessary: calculating thought concerned with makability, and reflective thought concerned with meaning (71)
  • Belief is "an essentially different kind of intellectual attitude, which stands alongside practical knowledge as something independent" (71)
  • Marxism is "the most impressive attempt to incorporate the attitude of 'belief' into the attitude of practical knowledge" (72)

What is belief really? It is a human way of taking up a stand in the totality of reality, a way that cannot be reduced to knowledge and is incommensurable with knowledge; it is the bestowal of meaning without which the totality of man would remain homeless, on which man's calculations and actions are based, and without which in the last resort he could not calculate and act, because he can only do this in the context of a meaning that bears him up (72).

  • Meaning cannot be made but only received (72), and it is because we have received that we can make (73)

To believe as a Christian means in fact entrusting oneself to the meaning that upholds me and the world; taking it as the firm ground on which I can stand fearlessly...Christianity means understanding our existence as a response to the word, the logos, that upholds and maintains all things (72.)

6. The rationality of faith

Truth is the only ground suitable for man to stand upon (76).

  • Our understanding grows out of belief, out of that meaning which we have entrusted ourselves to (77)

7. "I believe in you"

Christian faith lives on the discovery that not only is there such a thing as objective meaning but that this meaning knows me and loves me, that I can entrust myself to it like the child who knows that everything he may be wondering about is safe in the "you" of his mother (80).

I believe in you, Jesus of Nazareth, as the meaning (logos) of the world and of my life (81).

Chapter 2: THE ECCLESIASTICAL FORM OF FAITH

Summary: The Creed's roots are in the dialogue of the baptismal rite expressing the fundamental Christian belief in the Trinity. This dialogue demonstrates the communal aspect of faith and how the Creed is an instrument of unity.

1. Introductory remarks on the history and structure of the Apostles' Creed

  • The creed grew out of baptismal rites of the 2nd and 3rd century (based on Mt-28), and was originally a dialogue: "Do you believe...?"

2. Limits and meaning of the text

3. Creed and dogma

  • The dialogue of the creed gets closer to the heart of Christina faith than any later formal dogmas (89)

Faith is located in the act of conversion, in the turn of one's being from worship of the visible and practicable to trust in the invisible (89).

4. The Creed as expression of the structure of faith

  • Unlike philosophy which proceeds from individual reflection, faith comes from something heard and received; in faith the word takes precedence over the thought (91, cf. Rom-10: "faith comes from what is heard")
  • Faith has a fundamentally social character, and our goals is to make what is received more and more our own (92)
  • Doctrine (symbolum) aims at unity: the faith we hold can only be complete with that of others (98)

Christian doctrine does not exist in the form of discrete propositions but in the unity of the baptismal profession of faith (96)...Christian belief is not an idea but life (100).

PART ONE: GOD

Chapter 1: PROLEGOMENA TO THE SUBJECT OF GOD

Summary: Christian belief in God grows out of Israel and embraces the entire human experience, uniting philosophy and religious practice in monotheism. Similar to polytheism, our idolatry against the Christian God tempts us to make absolutes out of things that are not. The belief in the Christian God has important implications for practical life, including politics and marriage.

1. The scope of the question

  • What is "God" and what does it signify? (103)
  • Bonhoeffer: God is not an escape that becomes more superfluous as our powers expand
    • →But Ratzinger says "Both the poverty of human experience and its fullness point to God" (105)...we can be led to God both by loneliness and the joy of human love (106)
  • Monotheism, polytheism, and atheism are "all convinced of the unity and uniqueness of the absolute; where they differ is only in their notions of the manner in which man has to deal with the absolute" (109)
    • Ancient philosophy embraced both philosophical atheists (Epicurus, Lucretius) and philosophical monotheists (Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus) and both groups were by religion polytheists. Christianity is revolutionary where philosophical and religious orientations becomes identical (109)

2. The profession of faith in the one God

  • Our Christian faith in God has roots in Jewish prayer: "Hear, O Israel, Yahweh, thy God, is an only God" (110)
  • The fundamental issue with Polytheism is that it makes absolutes out of what is not in itself the absolute (bread, Eros, power), and thereby make slaves of men (111)
    • Our temptation to idolatry is the same temptation to make something less than God absolute (cf. 114)
  • Assenting to the Christian creed means renouncing at the same time the laws of the world (112)
  • We can change the world if we are willing to suffer (113)
  • "I Believe" is important for politics, precisely because it has no political aim (113)
  • "I Believe" is decisive for marriage:

The unity, finality, and indivisibility of the love between man and woman can in the last analysis only be made a reality and understood in the light of belief in the unity and indivisibility of the love of God. We are beginning to understand more and more clearly today that this concept of love is by no means a philosophically deducible, self-supporting principle and that to a large extent it stands or falls with belief in the one God. We are also coming to understand more and more clearly that the apparent liberation of love and its conversion into a matter of impulse mean the delivery of man to the autonomous powers of sex and Eros, to whose merciless slavery he falls victim just when he is under the illusion that he has freed himself. When he eludes God, the gods put out their hands to grasp him; he can only be liberated by allowing himself to be liberated and by ceasing to try to rely on himself (114).

Chapter 2: THE BIBLICAL BELIEF IN GOD

Summary: The Biblical God is understood in terms of the name he revealed to men, a revelation that makes him both personal and available to men.

1. The problem of the story of the burning bush

  • The burning bush is the central text for the understanding of the Old Testament God: "I am who I am" (116, cf. Ex-03)
  • In this the Fathers of the Church saw a unity between philosophy (Plato) and faith (Moses)
  • Philology (H. Cazelles) shows how the yau or ya meaning "my God" makes the God of Israel personal (121)

2. The intrinsic assumption of the belief in Yahweh: The God of [Israel's] fathers

  • Holy places lead to local gods. But Israel's personal God is of men, not a place, and is therefore transcendent: "he is to be found at any place where man is and where man lets himself be found by him" (123) and he "can be the God of each and every man" (126)

3. Yahweh, the "God of our Fathers" and The God of Jesus Christ

  • "I am" is both concealment and revelation at the same time, it involves mystery and emphasizes God's presence for Israel (129)
  • John understands Jesus in these terms as the revealer of the name of God, especially in the high priestly prayer of Jn-17: the name is no longer just a word, but a person (133)

4. The idea of the name

  • A name effects social incorporation allows for invocation...God revealing his name hands himself over to men and becomes one of us (135)

5. The two sides of the biblical concept of God

  • God becomes personal for us and in revealing his name makes a free gift of himself (135)

Chapter 3: THE GOD OF FAITH AND THE GOD OF THE PHILOSOPHERS

Summary: Christianity inherited the philosophical understanding of God as the logos, and elevated it by showing that the almighty being is also powerful in his smallness and concern for each man.

1. The decision of the early Church in favor of philosophy

  • We must continually choose who we will worship. The early Church chose the God of the philosophers, the highest being, the logos (138)
  • Just as ancient philosophers strove for truth over myth, the early Church recognized in Christ truth rather than just religious custom (141)
  • We must always guard against (1) retreating from truth and reason into mere piety, and (2) "interpreted Christianity" where all the stumbling blocks are removed to render it unobjectionable (142)

Christianity thus put itself resolutely on the side of truth and turned its back on a conception of religion satisfied to be mere outward ceremonial that in the end can be interpreted to mean anything one fancies (141).

2. The transformation of the God of the philosophers

  • Christianity also transformed the God of the philosophers by showing him to be the personal God, the God of men, the God who cares for us: the God of faith is also the God of relationship (143)
  • The Gospel corrects philosophy and lets us know that love is higher than mere thought (147)

3. The reflection of the question in the text of the Creed

  • By calling God both "Father" and "Almighty" the creed joins family with cosmic power (149)
  • God is powerful not through force, but through the freedom of love (150)

Chapter 4: FAITH IN GOD TODAY

Summary: We recognize God as both thought (logos) and love (giving us freedom).

1. The primacy of the logos

  • Christian faith in God as logos recognizes that all being is a product of thought: our thinking is only a rethinking of what has been thought before (152)
  • Two alternative paths of explaining being (156)
    • Materialism: everything we encounter is matter
    • Idealism: all matter can be traced back to the original "being-thought"
  • Against these, Christianity is the philosophy of freedom that goes beyond mere idealism (158)

2. The personal God

  • In the Christian understanding, because God not only thinks but loves, he is the God of the particular and freedom is the necessary structure of the world.

As the arena of love [the world] is also the playground of freedom and also incurs the risk of evil. It accepts the mystery of darkness for the sake of the greater light constituted by freedom and love (160).

The Christian sees in man, not an individual, but a person; and it seems to me that this passage from individual to person contains the whole span of the transition from antiquity to Christianity, from Platonism to faith (160).

Chapter 5: BELIEF IN THE TRIUNE GOD

Summary: We can learn about the Trinity from the heresies that show us aspects of what it is not, and we must of course recognize that God is a mystery beyond our comprehension. But we can also come to an understanding of the Trinity grounded in the relationship of the Divine Persons.

1. A start at understanding

  • Point of departure
    • The doctrine of the Trinity comes out of our historical experience of trying to understand the paradox of Christ as man and God (163) and of trying to understand the Holy Spirit (164)
  • The guiding motives (166)
    • First is man's proximity to God: only if he is human can Christ reach down to us
    • Second is him as truly God: and only if he is God can he lift us to God
    • Third we must take Jesus at face value, as he says he is
  • The hopelessness of the solutions
    • We have to resist pat solutions and understand that the Trinity is a mystery:
      • Subordinationism: Christ is not God but only a being very close to God
      • Monarchianism: persons of the trinity are only masks of God
      • Hegel and Schelling attempt to interpret Christianity philosophically, but this is a dead end
      • Marx engages in the "historicization" of God where meaning is in the future that man must bring about
  • The doctrine of the trinity as negative theology
    • Every one of the main basic concepts in the doctrine of the Trinity was condemned at one time or another [before being affirmed] (172), and every heresy is at the same time the cipher for an abiding truth (173)
    • We find the law of complementarity in physics as well as faith (173-175, cf. science discovering truths of the faith)
    • Pascal's wager: we must make a choice about God (176, cf. *Pensées)

Any attempt to reduce God to the scope of our own comprehension leads to the absurd. We can only speak rightly about him if we renounce the attempt to comprehend and let him be the uncomprehended (171).

2. Positive significance

  • First Thesis
    • God stands above singular and plural: the unity of love is truer unity than the unity of the atom (179)
  • Second Thesis
    • Relatedness is essential to being a person
  • Third Thesis
    • The concept of a "person" emerged in trying to understand the Christian God (181), there is a "we" in God (182)
    • "Son" and "Father" are statements of relationship: Christology is rooted in relationship (185)
    • To John, being a Christian means being like the Son (187)

PART TWO: JESUS CHRIST

Chapter 1: "I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST, HIS ONLY SON, OUR LORD"

Summary: All of history, and all of Christianity, centers around the person of Jesus Christ. There is a great unity in Christ of truth, relationship, love: he is his teaching. Christ is the great self-gift of God, and Christianity is a movement out of oneself for others.

A. THE PROBLEM OF FAITH IN JESUS TODAY

  • Central to the creed is the claim that Jesus is the decisive point of all human history (193, cf. 2022-02-16-Paradiso)
  • The historical-critical method: history cannot carry verification like physics (195); this method can see the man Jesus but only with difficulty discover the Christ in him (196)

B. JESUS THE CHRIST: THE BASIC FORM OF THE CHRISTOLOGICAL PROFESSION OF FAITH

1. The dilemma of modern theology: Jesus or Christ?

  • Historical science tends to divide faith and history (196), resulting in an over emphasis of one or at the expense of the other (198)
  • We cannot have just the historical Jesus without God; we need both his humanity and his divinity (201)

Jesus only subsists as the Christ and the Christ only subsists in the shape of Jesus (201).

2. The Creed's image of Christ

  • In the creed, "Christ" comes before "Jesus": "I believe in Christ Jesus" (202)
  • Christ is a title: with Jesus it is not possible to distinguish office and person (203)

The person of Jesus is his teaching, and his teaching is he himself (205).

3. The point of departure of faith in Jesus: The Cross

  • His crucifixion is his coronation; in him message and person are identical; the cross unites Christ and Jesus (206-207)

The birthplace of the faith in Jesus as the Christ, that is the birthplace of Christian faith as a whole, is the Cross (205).

4. Jesus the Christ

  • We need faith and love together just as we need Jesus and Christ together (209)

C. JESUS CHRIST- TRUE GOD AND TRUE MAN

1. The formulation of the question

  • The person of Jesus shows how all truth is united and not split into academic departments (211, cf. Philology)

Christian faith is not centered on ideas but on a person (210).

2. A modern stock idea of the "historical Jesus"

  • Actual history is simpler than the "mythical" version

3. The claim of christological dogma

  • The Bible does not refer to the "God-man", and antiquity does not have the idea of the "Son of God" (215)
  • "Son of God" comes from the "king" theology of the Old Testament (cf. Ps-02: "I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my son, today I have begotten you.")
    • The king is son because he has been chosen (not begotten) by God (217)
    • Israel's kings were not as powerful as they could have been. Their hopes are fulfilled in Jesus, but he is unlike earthly kings (219)
    • In Jesus "king" and "servant" are united (220, cf. Phil-02)
  • "The Son" is a coded parable that shows us a new intimacy with God (i.e. Abba, 224) and how in Jesus being and doing are united (227)

D. THE DIFFERENT PATHS TAKEN BY CHRISTOLOGY

1. Theology of the Incarnation and theology of the Cross

  • The theology of the Incarnation comes to the Catholic East and West through Greek thought, and the theology of the Cross comes to the Reformers through St. Paul: both are needed of course (229)

2. Christology and the doctrine of redemption

  • St. Anselm of Canterbury developed "Satisfaction theory": God is infinitely offended by our sin creating an infinite gulf that man can never bridge, so the infinite being himself becomes man and makes the required expiation

3. Christ, "the last man"

  • Jesus is the exemplary man that allows us to break free of our humanity and be truly for God

EXCURSUS: CHRISTIAN STRUCTURES

  • Don't forget the big picture of our faith, and don't water it down! (244, cf. 2 Tm-04) Following is a basic summary of Christianity:
  • The individual and the whole
    • God can and does come to us individually, but man is not an atomized individual and is himself only in relationship
    • Church and Christianity exist on account of history, especially the history of original sin
  • The principle of "for"
    • The Christian faith demands the individual for the whole, the basic law is "for" or self-giving

Being a Christian means essentially changing over form being for oneself to being for one another (252).

  • The law of disguise
    • God disguises himself in the small to reveal himself to us
  • The law of excess or superfluity
    • There is a tension between total forgiveness and a total demand on man
    • Mt-05-Mt-05 is a "terrifying examination of conscience" (258)
    • A Christian, like the beggar, is grateful for what he receives and generously passes part of it on to others (260)
    • God is infinitely excessive in his creation! The divine excess "infinitely surpasses all needs and legitimate demands" (261)

Christ is the infinite self-expenditure of God (261).

  • Finality and hope
    • Revelation is not some factual knowledge that can be completed, it is the person of God himself (263)
    • Discussion of Progress & History: God's final decision for man has already been made and there is finality in history; "circular movement leads nowhere" (264)
    • "Indissoluble marriage is in fact only comprehensible and feasible on the basis of faith in God's henceforward irrevocable decision, embodied in Christ, in favor of 'marriage' with mankind (cf. Eph-05-23: [Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.]). It stands or falls with this faith; in the long run, it is just as impossible outside this faith as it is necessary within it." (265-266) ^b5ad0b
  • The primacy of acceptance and Christian positivity
    • "Man comes in the most profound sense to himself through what he accepts...love can only be received as a gift...and one cannot become wholly man in any other way than by being loved" (267)
    • "Our relation to God ultimately cannot rest on our own planning...it is something to be received" (268)
    • "Only in the arrival of something from outside does man open up inwardly" (269)
  • The spirit of Christianity
    • "So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Cor-13

Chapter 2: THE DEVELOPMENT OF FAITH IN CHRIST IN THE CHRISTOLOGICAL ARTICLES OF THE CREED

Summary: How can a study of Christ be summarized...apart from asking for mercy and worshiping with thanksgiving.

1. "Conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary"

  • Jesus' true origin is a mystery. Matthew and Luke emphasize his Old Testament roots.
  • Mary is a new creation, and she is "the temple upon which descends the cloud in which God walks into the midst of history" (273)
    • Is-07: "It is not absolutely clear from the text of this passage that a virgin in the strict sense of the term is meant" (273)
  • The roots of Jesus' virgin birth is more from the Old Testament than from ancient myth, and he is God's son not by biological action but by nature (275)
  • Man can only receive salvation as pure gift (277)
  • Mary does not contest or endanger the exclusiveness of salvation through Christ, she points to is (280, cf. The Diary of a Country Priest "Everything is grace" bib)

2. "Suffered under Pontus Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried"

  • Righteousness and grace
    • The Cross is not sinister, mechanical justice; it is radical love (282); God comes to meet us and reconcile us (203 cf. 2 Cor-05: "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself")
    • Christian sacrifice is receptive, letting God act on us

The essential form of Christian worship is therefore rightly called Eucharistia, Thanksgiving (283).

  • The Cross as worship and sacrifice
    • Love's free Yes is the only worship or sacrifice that can have any meaning; the hour of the cross is the cosmic day of reconciliation
  • The nature of Christian worship
    • In Christian worship we put aside our attempts at justification and accept the gift of the love of Jesus Christ
    • Christianity is not finally fellowship, but adoration
    • J. Daniélou: "Between the heathen world and the threefold God there is only one link, and that is the Cross of Christ...This stretching out of Christ, symbolized by the four directions of the Cross, is the mysterious expression of our own dismemberment and makes us like him." (290)
      • → love is this being torn apart


        >In the abyss of human failure is revealed the still more inexhaustible abyss of divine love (293).

3. "Descended into hell'

One can try to deal with problems either by denying their existence or by facing up to them. The first method is the more comfortable one, but only the second leads anywhere (294).

  • Holy Saturday is the day of the "death of God" (294 cf. Nietzsche's "God is dead and we have killed him", The Drama of Atheist Humanism bib)
  • Hell is real, total loneliness and dreadfulness (300); Christ makes death, which was previously hell, hell no longer (301)

The Lord's descent into hell reminds us that not only God's speech but also his silence is part of the Christian revelation...Only when we have experienced him as silence may we hope to hear his speech, too, which proceeds in silence (296).

4. "Rose again [from the dead]"

  • Resurrection is the greater strength of love in face of death (302, cf. Sg-08: "love is strong as death")
  • Love has managed to break through death here and thus has transformed our lives (307)
  • The Lk-24 gives us a liturgy of the word, eucharistic breaking of the bread. The liturgy is based on the mystery of Easter, and it the Lord's approach to us where he becomes our traveling companion (309)

5. "He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father"

  • "Hell is wanting only to be oneself...heaven can always only be granted to man; but hell is the loneliness of the man who will not accept it, who declines the status of beggar and withdraws into himself...heaven is to be defined as the contact of the being 'man' with teh being 'God' [through the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ]" (313)
  • "Eternity is not the very ancient but the entirely other" (316)

6. "He will come again to judge the living and the dead"

  • History points toward the second coming of Christ (320)
  • The final judgement is the result of responsibility grounded in freedom; freedom is not cancelled out even by grace (323)
  • We owe an account of our stewardship: the seriousness of this business gives life its dignity (325)

True love is excess of justice, excess that goes farther than justice, but never destruction of justice, which must be and must remain the basic form of love (325).

PART THREE: THE SPIRIT AND THE CHURCH

Chapter 1: THE INTRINSIC UNITY OF THE LAST STATEMENTS IN THE CREED

Summary: We live in the age of the Church and of the Holy Spirit.

  • The Holy Spirit is God's gift to history (331)...the power through which the risen Lord remains present in the history of the world as the principle of a new history and a new world (332)
  • The communion of saints and forgiveness of sins are descriptions of how the Spirit works in history (334)
  • The Church is understood as the center of the Spirit's activity in the world (335)
  • The resurrection of the body and life everlasting are the unfolding of faith in the holy Spirit and his transforming power (336)

Chapter 2: TWO MAJOR QUESTIONS POSED BY THE ARTICLES ON THE SPIRIT AND THE CHURCH

Church and sacrament stand or fall together (338)

1. "The holy, catholic Church"

  • The catholicity and holiness of the Church can be a major obstacle to belief today since it seems anything but (340)
  • "In her paradoxical combination of holiness and unholiness the Church is in fact the shape taken by grace in this world" (342)
  • Unity is unity of Word and sacrament; the episcopal organization is a means to this unity (346)

2. "The resurrection of the body"

  • The biblical worldview presupposes the undivided unity of man, body and soul (349)
  • Fellowship with fellow man is constitutive of living on (351)

The goal of the Christian is not private bliss but the whole. He believes in Christ, and for that reason he believes in the future of the world, not just in his own future. He knows that this future is more than he himself can create. He knows that there is a meaning he is quite incapable of destroying. Is he therefore to sit quietly with his hands in his lap? On the contrary; because he knows there is such a thing as meaning, he can and must cheerfully and intrepidly do the work of history (358)


Topic: Christianity

Source

  • Vision Class 2014

Bibliography

file:(2023-02-27-Introduction to Christianity)

New Words

  • physiognomy: The art of judging human character from facial features (85)
  • periphrases: use of a longer phrasing in place of a possible shorter form of expression (142)
  • soteriology: the doctrine of redemption (231)
  • autarchy: Self-sufficiency; independence (305)

Created: 2022-03-21-Mon
Updated: 2023-11-20-Mon