Archives For March 2014

Comments on the Second 100 Pages of Introduction to Christianity

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A few weeks ago, I posted some comments on Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s) important book Introduction to Christianity (1968). You can find that article at the following link: https://daveinchow.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/comments-on-first-100-pages-of-introduction-to-christianity/ 

Here are some thoughts on the second 100 pages of the text:

1. “We ought to find God, Bonhoeffer thought, not, so to speak, in our moments of need and failure, but amid the fullness of earthly life,” (pg. 105). 

  • While it is true that God is our refuge, that he comforts us in our weakness, it is equally true that every good thing comes from God. God is not only the God of our suffering but also the God of our joy. There is a great tendency among Christians today to simply call upon God in times of great need, but this distorted sort of Christianity is the equivalent of being a reverse fair weather fan. This type of Christian follows the ways of the world when the ways of the world fit, but he or she abandons the world for God whenever the going gets tough. It is easy to see that this sort of Christian is interested in his or her self more than in the Creator or the Redeemer. A prayer from the mass captures this idea quite well: “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, holy Father, Lord of heaven and earth, through Christ our Lord.” We give thanks because God is good! Life is good! 

2. “Christian unity is first of all unity with Christ,” (pg. 187).

  • At Wake Forest I have been taking part in a biweekly Christian unity theological discussion group. We have covered numerous important topics such as the sacraments, the church, salvation, and prayer. True Christian unity, however, does not start with arguments about these things; rather, it starts with a deepening of one’s relationship with Christ, who desires that all might be one as He is one with God the Father. All the rational proofs in the world will not convince. What convinces is a conviction of the truth of Jesus.

3. “The full truth of history eludes documentary verification,” (pg. 196).

  • Within the world of academics, I have learned to “prove” my points. Typically, I prove things by supporting them with sources or with sheer logic. Grades are meant to reflect how well (or how poorly) I communicate my points through these supporting proofs. With Christ, however, such a method is foolish. Now, I do not mean to say that one cannot convincingly demonstrate Jesus’ existence and his power through historical reasoning. These pursuits are noble, and they often break down certain barriers to faith. However, faith in Jesus is ultimately not a matter of historical proof. Faith in Jesus is a matter of faith, which belongs to its own realm. Faith is a gift that God infuses into the believer. This infused faith allows a person to assert with conviction that Jesus rose from the dead and that Jesus is the Son of God. Whereas history only allows for arguments that are more or less probable, faith allows for affirmations that transcend the limitations of probability.

Thanks so much for reading this post! I will be sure to make another on the next 100 pages really soon!

In the meantime, may God bless you abundantly!

Best wishes,
David J.W. Inczauskis

Comments on First 100 Pages of Introduction to Christianity by Joseph Ratzinger

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For lent I’ve decided to read Joseph Ratzinger’s–now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s–Introduction to Christianity. This season is a time to prepare ourselves to re-encounter the essence of the faith: the proclamation that Jesus Christ is risen! Therefore, I figured, why not go back to the basics? While the book is certainly about the “basics,” it is extraordinarily profound, so I’d like to share a few of my thoughts on some of the Pope Emeritus’ insights.

“I am firmly convinced that a renewal of Christianity must have the courage to see Christ in all of his greatness,” (“Preface,” 29). 

  • Yes! The renewal of Christianity must involve the preaching of Jesus’ Lordship, which is truly great, truly amazing, truly inspiring. If people don’t understand Jesus’ greatness, if they don’t see Christians who are joyful about Jesus’ greatness, then the Church is missing the point of evangelism.

“What is at stake is the whole structure; it is a question of all or nothing,” (43).

  • Today, especially among young people, we are more inclined to see things as “religious v. atheist” rather than as “Catholic v. Protestant.” Doubts about Catholicism are minuscule compared to doubts about faith in general. Interestingly, as the culture becomes more grey, more ambiguous, atheism has risen substantially. This change is a result of the common notion that nothing is stable. I’ve heard it said, “Change is the new norm.” Public opinions shift swiftly, so shouldn’t our “opinions” about religious things do the same? Ratzinger’s book does a great job of answering this fundamental question.

Quoting Marx, “So far philosophers have merely interpreted the world in various ways; it is necessary to change it,” (63).

  • Exactly! The general idea of this citation from Marx is unfailingly true. Our mission as human beings is not simply thought: we are meant to be actors of change. Like St. Paul says, we are to be “ministers of reconciliation.” Such ministers are not arm-chair philosophers. No! They are agents of transformation, pro-claimers of the gospel, witnesses to the Truth, which is also Way and Life. Jesus is both Truth and Way, so we don’t merely know Jesus but rather journey with him on the Way to eternal Life. One detects a certain dynamism here…

“God wishes to approach man only through man; he seeks out man in no other way but in his fellow humanity,” (94).

  • Amen! We ought to notice that God chose to save us in incarnate form. Theoretically, in his infinite power and wisdom, he could have made us righteous by some other means, yet he did not. He decided to communicate the good news to us from one human to another. Likewise, WE communicate the good news to OTHERS in a similar fashion–one human to another. If we don’t carry out this ordained task, then we will have failed our Lord in the heat of the battle. 

These quotes and comments are just a few among many that I could have selected. I’ll have more coming soon as I progress through the book.

God bless you!

–David J.W. Inczauskis