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Introduction to Christianity

4.36  ·  Rating Details ·  639 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
One of Cardinal Ratzinger's most important and widely read books, this volume is a revised second edition with an improved translation and an in-depth 20 page preface by the Cardinal. As he states in the preface, since this book was first published over 30 years ago, many changes and significant events have occurred in the world, and in the Church. But even so, he says he ...more
Paperback, 2nd Edition, 300 pages
Published November 30th 2004 by Ignatius Press (first published 1968)
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Jun 04, 2010 Jennifer rated it really liked it
This book has been a difficult read for me so far, and I find that I have to keep reminding myself to put it in its proper context; viz., late 60's theology programs in Germany. Given this fact about its intended audience, the book is poorly titled, for it is anything but an introduction. Unless you are reasonably well versed in philosophy I think there is very little that can be made of it one way or another.

Being more than reasonably well-versed myself, I have to say that so far I am deeply am
Julie Davis
Dec 14, 2012 Julie Davis rated it it was amazing
A Catholic book-a-licious selection for my birthday, thanks to my husband who knows who my favorite authors are. I'd no sooner ripped the wrapping off before I was flipping through the introduction and saying, "Oh, even back then he had the same style for considering arguments ... just listen" and then reading aloud. (Yes, he is a patient and loving man, my husband.)

Pope Benedict. On the creed. It doesn't get much better than that.

And he dedicated it to his students in several towns, including T
Brett Salkeld
Of the many Ratzinger books I have read to this point, this one may well be the best. Any Christian who wants to understand the faith at a deeper level, or any non-Christian interested in what Christians actually believe could not find a better book. It may be especially useful to mature Christians who are questioning central tenets of the faith because the standard presentation lacks credibility and who are unsure where else to turn.

Ratzinger begins with a profound reflection on the meaning of
Sep 23, 2014 Steve rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity
Introduction? I'd hate to see what he could do with an in-depth study. Seriously heavy lumber, but also brilliant, profound. Traditional, and yet it's written for the modern believer. Highly recommended.
Luís C.
'' If the contact whatsoever with God made me in my life, I can never see each other than the other, and I fail to recognize in him the divine image. If, against, in my life I fail completely to heed to the other, desiring only to be pious, and to perform my religious duties, then my relationship with God dries up. ''
Kevin de Ataíde
Sep 03, 2012 Kevin de Ataíde rated it it was amazing
The great theologian Rátzinger's masterful exposition of the Apostles' Creed, the ancient symbol of faith of the Catholic Church. The author responds to the crisis of faith in the mid-twentieth century and attempts to present the faith as entirely reasonable in the midst of doubt. He points out at the very beginning how the greatest of the Saints could themselves suffer doubt in bad circumstances, such as suffering. The author's sympathy for those who suffer physically or mentally is obvious in ...more
Jacob Stubbs
So, this book is quite amazing. The Philosopher Pope's intellect is amazing. Many sections of this book will require a re-reading or two (especially his explication of the Apostle's Creed and its relation to the God of Philosophers and God of Isra-el). Here's my thoughts:

1) The opening section on what it means to believe (to assent to the "Credo") was challenging and upbuilding. His use of Heidegger was quite interesting. It really adds a political dimension to declaring one's belief in the Chr
Jan 31, 2012 J.j. rated it it was ok
I started this book with high expectations, and the introduction was promising, in so much as it discussed the need for dialogue between theists and atheists. However, there really was nothing here about why one might believe in Christianity. At one point the author essentially confirmed it does all come down to faith, and for me that echoes Kierkegaards blind leap. But for someone looking at it from the outside there's really no more reason to leap to Christianity than anything else, be it ...more
Mar 09, 2013 Gene rated it really liked it
I was surprised by how much I learned from this book. All kinds of good, solid Biblical insights are scattered throughout the book, and even though I'm an Evangelical, I found there was much to learn from this most scholarly of Catholics.

I really enjoyed the way Ratzinger tied this overview of the Apostle's creed to it's confessional roots in baptism. And before dealing with any specifics of the content of belief, an honest look at faith and its difficulties was presented. I think that took near
John Heyhoe-Griffiths
This is a deep book that is difficult to read but is ultimately rewarding. Ratzinger is at his best in the first half, where he contrasts the secular or scientific outlook with the Christian outlook and where he develops the doctrines of the Trinity and Christ's two natures. However, in the second half, where he carefully analyzes the Apostles Creed, he too often reverts to the dry tone of a German professor (which he is). There are moments of sheer brilliance, though, where he captures the ...more
Santeri Marjokorpi
Sep 28, 2014 Santeri Marjokorpi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teologia, filosofia
Huh. Kirjan nimi oli totaalisen väärä, sillä tämä ei todellakaan ollut mikään introduction-tason teos kristinuskoon, vaan yksi syvällisimmistä teoksista, jonka olen vähään aikaan lukenut. En siis suosittele annettavaksi ihmiselle, joka ei tiedä mitään kristinuskosta, ellei hänellä ole todella vankka tietämys filosofiasta ja uskonnoista ylipäätään. Olen aika moneen teologian alaan käsittelevään kirjaan törmännyt, jotka enemmän tai vähemmän toistelevat samaa, mitä muut kirjoittajat ovat sanoneet ...more
Mar 01, 2015 Suzanne rated it really liked it
Ridiculously deceptive title. It's an explanation of the Christian faith that is anything but "introductory." I'd like to summarize what he said, but it's so complex that I really couldn't tell you what it's about without re-reading the thing. In essence, he goes through the Apostle's Creed and explains what it is the people are doing when they believe and what exactly it is that they're expressing their belief in.

Even though the text was very dense,Pope Benedict gave me many useful insights. Fo
Joseph Richardson
Mar 28, 2013 Joseph Richardson rated it it was amazing
Benedict at his finest. Meaty, intellectual, brilliant, and challenging, but at a level for the layperson. This is a particularly thought-provoking book for those of philosophical bent: Benedict (while he was still called Ratzinger) explores the philosophical underpinnings of belief itself and Christian belief in particular, and the problems of faith in the modern world. One of the first works of a serious Catholic theologian I'd read: I was especially surprised and pleased by the lack of ...more
Edward C.
Aug 28, 2011 Edward C. rated it it was amazing
This is one of the three most important books that I have read. This is no basic introduction, but rather an in-depth study of what is meant--and what is certainly not meant--by the ancient prayer known as the Apostles' Creed. Using the image of Kierkegaard's clown, Ratzinger explains the need for Christians today to have a firm grasp on the meaning of the Faith of they hope to live live of Christian joy and evangelization, and he expertly uses the via negativa of heresy to articulate the Creed. ...more
Jay D
Aug 09, 2011 Jay D added it
Pope Benedict's classic book is anything but an "intro." Written for the intelligentsia, the book is a profound modern, panoramic view of theology that exposits the articles of Creed to the modern intellectual. At times even presuppositional and fully cognizant of much of Eastern theology, Benedict's book integrates elements of St. Maximus' Logos/logoi as well as offering an excellent refutation of Anselm's silly view of the atonement. Readers from all traditions will certainly benefit from this ...more
Jun 28, 2016 Brandon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (a.k.a. Pope Benedict XVI), he may be my favorite systematic theologian. He was Radical Orthodox before Radical Orthodoxy was cool.

Don't be fooled by the title, "Introduction to Christianity." This is a very theologically dense book, but well worth the time and effort. If anything, it was a reintroduction into why I am a Christian, and gifted me new language and variations on the themes of grace, mercy, and love.

Thank you, Holy Father, for your ministry.
Mar 29, 2016 Anne rated it really liked it
This is dense, but so much more readable than I thought. Not an "introduction" by any stretch of the imagination, but a meditation on the Apostle's Creed-- itself the introduction or starting point for understanding the Christian faith. I only made it through Part 1 before exhausting all my library renewals, so it would be a good purchase in order to go through slowly. For me it is definitely theology, and not spiritual reading for personal prayer. But if you approach it with that understanding ...more
Apr 18, 2015 Earl rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Father Benedict might be a far cry from Pope Francis in terms of popularity and appeal, but for the intellectual making sense of the faith of the Church at work, this is a handy guide. In fact, one can see here the Pope-Emeritus' brilliance and penchant for rigidity in spite of (or to be more appropriate, in) simplicity, quoting from various sources within and outside the Church. I believe that for the one who seeks explanation regarding the nature of faith as experienced, this is a book worth ...more
May 02, 2012 Noel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: catholic
Based on a series of lectures given to the university community in the 1960s, Introduction to Christianity is a terrific book, if not my idea of bed-side reading. I've recommended it to several friends and acquaintances over the years. One has to decide to hang in there with the author as he presents his material in a fresh new way (even as he follows one of the classic organizing principles for the material: the articles of the Creed).
Ben De Bono
Sep 12, 2012 Ben De Bono rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
This is a wonderful, must-read book for Catholics and Protestants alike. Pope Benedict uses the Nicene Creed as a framework for discussing Christian thought. The Holy Father's brilliant systematical mind is on display throughout, making me wish this was a full fledged Systematic Theology rather than an introduction

The first couple chapters, which discuss the relationship between faith and knowledge, are particularly brilliant and alone are worth the price of the book
Mar 23, 2016 Morta rated it really liked it
Shelves: religious-books
Kažkada aš bijojau net pradėti šitą knygą. Ir negaliu pasakyti, jog šįkart pradžia mane būtų be galo įkvėpusi, tačiau džiaugiuosi, kad nepasidaviau, nes pabaiga (na, ten jau nelabai toli iki pabaigos) atpirko visą reikalą. Taip, priaugti prie Ratzingerio reikia, bet jis turi tą žavų sugebėjimą pasiimti tave už rankos ir įsivesti į gilius dalykus. Gražu.
Jan 29, 2010 pjr8888 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this elucidation of the Apostle's Creed gives a "modern" interpretation of the foundations of Christianity. Ratzinger's treatment of Christianity's basic truths combines a spiritual outlook with a deep knowledge of Scripture and the history of theology.however, in matters of religion,and even more so with belief, while experience can persuade, words alone seldom do.

Mar 23, 2009 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good book but I think half of it went over my head. There are times when you think "yea, I am grasping this" and then you've lost it. Some sections are brilliant and to read it just to get those one or two sentences of pearl wisdom was worth all the sweat. Ode to intellectuals! I think I'd like to read it again when I'm less distracted.
Avel Deleon
Mar 12, 2014 Avel Deleon rated it it was amazing
Benedict has a tremendous ability to write clearly, profoundly and concise. This is no mere introduction it requires some philosophical background but for the most part it can be read with little or no difficultly. He is one of my favorite writers and continues to be! This is a solid book supported by scripture, reason and the magisterium.
Jun 15, 2015 Marc rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: church, christianity
Dit boek dateert eigenlijk van 1970, maar werd door een handige uitgever in 2006 weer op de markt gebracht, om evidente redenen. Een zeer klassiek, erg academisch getint overzicht van wat het christendom inhoudt. Zoals je dat van Ratzinger kan verwachten. Denk dus niet dat je hierin bezieling zult vinden. Daarvoor kan je iets meer terecht bij de Jezus-boeken van Ratzinger.
Wendy Wong Schirmer
Mar 24, 2016 Wendy Wong Schirmer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Joseph Ratzinger's "Introduction" unpacks the Apostle's Creed. It expounds upon the act of believing, and indeed what it means to believe as a Christian, amid the philosophical challenges of modernity. While the modern world issues its challenges, Catholicism answers with challenges of its own.
Mar 19, 2011 Donna is currently reading it
So far, it's great. His preface to the current edition discusses contemporary religious relativism and its implications. Very timely, nuanced, and brilliant. The Holy Father has an incredible mind.
Rob Springer
Apr 29, 2014 Rob Springer rated it really liked it
More like the Introduction to Christianity you would expect in your first year of seminary, this book is nevertheless engaging and deeply thought provoking.
Jun 07, 2016 Paul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Absolutely incredible work. I thanked Louis for bringing it to my attention.

faith filled, passionate under the cool veneer.
Ryan rated it it was amazing
Feb 28, 2014
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Pope Benedict XVI (Latin: Benedictus PP. XVI; Italian: Benedetto XVI; German: Benedikt XVI.; born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on 16 April 1927) was the 265th Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the head of the Roman Catholic Church. He was elected on 19 April 2005 in a papal conclave, celebrated his Papal Inauguration Mass on 24 April 2005, an ...more
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“But first let me mention the second aid to understanding provided by science. We know today that in a physical experiment the observer himself enters into the experiment and only by doing so can arrive at a physical experience. This means that there is no such thing as pure objectivity in in physics, that even here the result of the experiment, nature's answer, depends on the question put to it. In the answer there is always a bit of the question and a bit of the questioner himself; it reflects not only nature in itself, in its pure objectivity, but also gives back something of man, of what is characteristically ours, a bit of the human subject. This too, mutatis mutandis, is true of the question of God. There is no such thing as a mere observer. There is no such thing as pure objectivity. One can even say that the higher an object stands in human terms, the more it generates the center of individuality; and the more it engages the beholder's individuality, then the smaller the possibility of the mere distancing involved in pure objectivity. Thus, whenever an answer is presented as unemotionally objective, as a statement that finally goes beyond the prejudices of the pious and provides purely factual, scientific information, then it has to be said that the speaker has here fallen victim to self-deception. This kind of objectivity is quite simply denied to man. He cannot ask and exist as a mere observer. He who tries to be a mere observer experiences nothing. Even the reality "God" can only impinge on the vision of him who enters into the experiment with God--the experiment that we call faith. Only be entering does one experience; only by cooperating in the experiment does one ask at all; and only he who asks receives an answer.” 7 likes
“That is why the second coming of the Lord is not only salvation, not only the omega that sets everything right, but also judgment. Indeed at this stage we can actually define the meaning of the talk of judgment. It means precisely this, that the final stage of the world is not the result of a natural current but the result of responsibility that is grounded in freedom. This must be regarded as the key to understanding why the New Testament clings fast, in spite of its message of grace, to the assertion that at the end men are judged "by their works" and that no one can escape giving an account of the way he has lived his life. There is a freedom that is not cancelled out even by grace and, indeed, is brought by it face to face with itself: man's final fate is not forced upon him regardless of the decisions he has made in his life. This assertion is in any case also necessary in order to draw the line between faith and false dogmatism or a false Christian self-confidence. This line alone confirms the equality of men by confirming the identity of their responsibility. ...

Perhaps in the last analysis it is impossible to escape a paradox whose logic is completely disclosed only to the experience of a life based on faith. Anyone who entrusts himself to a life of faith becomes aware that both exist: the radical character of grace that frees helpless man and,no less, the abiding seriousness of the responsibility that summons man day after day. Both together mean that the Christian enjoys, on the one hand, the liberating, detached tranquility of him who lives on that excess of divine justice known as Jesus Christ. ... This is the source of a profound freedom, a knowledge of God's unrepentant love; he sees through all our errors and remains well disposed to us. ... At the same time, the Christian knows, however, that he is not free to do whatever he pleases, that his activity is not a game that God allows him and does not take seriously. He knows that he must answer for his actions, that he owes an account as a steward of what has been entrusted to him. There can only be responsibility where there is someone to be responsible to, someone to put the questions. Faith in the Last Judgment holds this questioning of our life over our heads so that we cannot forget it for a moment. Nothing and no one empowers us to trivialize the tremendous seriousness involved in such knowledge; it shows our life to be a serious business and precisely by doing so gives it its dignity.”
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