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John Seymour | 1888 comments Mod
This thread is for discussion of the Prefaces and Introduction to Introduction to Christianity.


John Seymour | 1888 comments Mod
Right away in the "Preface to the New Edition" we get into a reference to and critique of liberation theology. I have been discussing this with a friend of mine. We find ourselves on opposite sides of the discussion, though we both acknowledge a fundamental lack of hard information about liberation theology. We agreed that he would find a book supportive of liberation theology that we would both read and discuss, and I would find a critique that we would both read and discuss.

One day he handed me a copy of Gutierrez' A Theology of Liberation, which we are now reading. I have been having difficulty finding a similar book length critique of liberation theology. There are, of course, the CDF documents, Introduction on Certain aspects of "Liberation Theology" and Introduction on Christian Freedom and Liberation," and I have found some articles online, but I am wondering if anyone is familiar with a book length critique that is worthwhile. Any suggestions?


Kerstin | 100 comments No. I don't know of any book length critique.
About a year ago I listened a lecture series from 'Now You Know Media' on Liberation Theology, and I read Ratzinger's CDF document too to get a better picture what I'm dealing with. It found it quite helpful to recognize what is what. The series by Dr. Michael E. Lee is very good at explaining things, and to his credit he tries to be fair but it is clear he is sympathetic. I would have very much liked a point-by-point rebuttal! In any case, Liberation Theologies (they have very much metastasized) are such a convoluted mish-mash a sufficient working knowledge on Marxism and how it contrasts to Catholicism will serve you well.


John Seymour | 1888 comments Mod
Kerstin wrote: "No. I don't know of any book length critique.
About a year ago I listened a lecture series from 'Now You Know Media' on Liberation Theology, and I read Ratzinger's CDF document too to get a better..."


Thanks, Kerstin. I find Ratzinger's comments in his preface to be useful and concise. In adopting a Marxist framework for analyzing society, LTs have elevated the political and the economic above spiritual concerns. This is a frankly materialistic view of liberation that is quite in sync with the modern world, but bears no obvious relation to Christianity beyond concern for the poor. Ironically, in adopting a Marxist economic analysis, LT abandons the market-based systems which are the only hope for the growth that lifts people out of poverty. For theologians to abandon concerns about spiritual well-being is concerning. One would think they would be concerned about the spiritual bankruptcy that has accompanied broad prosperity in much of the West.


John Seymour | 1888 comments Mod
I am struck again by how powerful and clear Cardinal Ratzinger's writing was. There is so much here it is hard to know where to begin. If I was to include every passage I noted in the quotes thread, I would re-type a large portion of the book.

I am struck again, on re-reading, by his linking of the decline in the West of a belief in a personal God, and the decay of public morality, including the increasing loss of any sense of "inviolable dignity" in each individual person.


Kerstin | 100 comments John wrote: "Kerstin wrote: "No. I don't know of any book length critique.
About a year ago I listened a lecture series from 'Now You Know Media' on Liberation Theology, and I read Ratzinger's CDF document too..."


In this context there is another great little book by Ratzinger, The Meaning of Christian Brotherhood. It is from a series of talks he did in Salzburg in 1958. In the segment where he explores the Marxist understanding of brotherhood in terms of the class struggle makes it crystal clear it is incompatible with the Christian core-understanding of Love.


Manuel Alfonseca | 1512 comments Mod
I have the 1983 Spanish edition of the book we are reading, and the Prologue does not mention Liberation Theology. In fact, the Prologue is quite short, just about 2 pages.


John Seymour | 1888 comments Mod
Manuel wrote: "I have the 1983 Spanish edition of the book we are reading, and the Prologue does not mention Liberation Theology. In fact, the Prologue is quite short, just about 2 pages."

Ah, it is the preface to the 30th anniversary edition, published in German in 2000 and in the United States in English in 2004. There are three prefaces: the original preface to the 1968 edition, which is about 2 pages long; the Preface to the 1969 edition, which is less than a page; and the "Preface to the New Edition," which is about 20 pages long.


John Seymour | 1888 comments Mod
In the Introduction, there is a section in which he discusses the dilemma of unbelief: "[T]here is no escape from the dilemma of being a man. Anyone who makes up his mind to evade the uncertainty of belief will have to experience the uncertainty of unbelief. . . ." As I considered that I wonder if perhaps it might be said differently, that man is a believing animal and that we must believe, if we reject belief in the True God, we will choose to believe in some false god.


message 10: by Manuel (last edited Jan 03, 2018 03:46AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Manuel Alfonseca | 1512 comments Mod
John wrote: "I am struck again by how powerful and clear Cardinal Ratzinger's writing was. There is so much here it is hard to know where to begin..."

Yes, I have always considered his writings very clear and powerful, as you say. In fact, the best Papal Encyclical I have ever read is his "Spe salvi" Saved in Hope: Spe Salvi

By the way, Goodreads has a problem with him, they have assigned him several different author pages, two of them more important: one as Joseph Ratzinger Joseph Ratzinger and one as Benedict XVI Pope Benedict XVI, with the same books in different editions distributed among them. I think there are even more, diffreent combinations of his two names, or with different spellings, such as a Jósef Ratzinger with a book in Polish: Józef Ratzinger and a Josef Ratzinger with a book in English Jozef Ratzinger (Benedikt XVI.).


Manuel Alfonseca | 1512 comments Mod
John wrote: "As I considered that I wonder if perhaps it might be said differently, that man is a believing animal and that we must believe, if we reject belief in the True God, we will choose to believe in some false god."

But I think this is not what he means. Rather, whatever your belief is, as a consequence of what you say, there'll always be the possibility of doubt. Unless you have felt God's presence at least once, which helps a lot, of course.


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John Seymour | 1888 comments Mod
Manuel wrote: "John wrote: "As I considered that I wonder if perhaps it might be said differently, that man is a believing animal and that we must believe, if we reject belief in the True God, we will choose to b..."

The problem with commenting while still reading and considering. Yes, in the section I was commenting on, he is talking about the dilemma of doubt and the fact that regardless of what you believe, there is always the possibility of doubt.

And yes, having felt the presence of God helps.


message 13: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 697 comments I found striking his statement that, yes, believers are always subject to doubt--but so are unbelievers, the niggling doubt that Christianity might be true after all; "he remains threatened by the question of whether belief is not after all the reality it claims to be."
Later on, he states what you took the original statement to mean, when he says, "Every man must adopt some kind of attitude toward the realm of basic decisions, decisions that, by their very nature, can only be made by entertaining belief."


message 14: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 697 comments I'm thinking not that much has changed in 50 years; faith is still commonly relegated to a private sphere irrelevant to the "real world" (politics, economics...).

Does morality have to be grounded in faith? Isn't there an intrinsic sense of right and wrong, though the particulars may vary considerably.

I love his image of us being fastened to a plank (the cross) floating in a sea of uncertainty.

interesting that he quotes Luther favorably

Meaning can't be created, only received.


message 15: by Manuel (last edited Jan 05, 2018 03:17AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Manuel Alfonseca | 1512 comments Mod
It just came to my mind that the anecdote of the rabbi who received the visit of an unbeliever who intended to convince him, and disarmed his opponent by saying Perhaps it is true, is a simplified version of Pascal's wager.

About Pascal's wager: http://populscience.blogspot.com/2017...

It is curious that in this post I also quoted "Le soulier de satin" (in a different context).


message 16: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 697 comments His discussion in chapter 2 of the genesis and development of the Creed is interesting. I love the way he explains expounding believing in the Holy Spirit: "faith in the present and future of the Christian attitude."
I never heard the 12 articles of the Creed connected to the 12 apostles.
I was surprised by his assertion that the Eastern Orthodox churches have no Creed, would like to know more about what is asked of those seeking baptism. Or is he saying there is no single Creed but many formulations of the same reality?
I love his question about the "cash value" of believing: "What attitude to the business of being a man do I adopt?"


Manuel Alfonseca | 1512 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "His discussion in chapter 2 of the genesis and development of the Creed is interesting... I was surprised by his assertion that the Eastern Orthodox churches have no Creed, would like to know more about what is asked of those seeking baptism. Or is he saying there is no single Creed but many formulations of the same reality?"

Jill, he does not say that the Eastern Orthodox Churches have no Creed, of course they have; he is just speaking about "the symbol of the Apostles" which was mainly used in the West in its Latin version. In the Eastern Empire they used other Creeds, specially the Nicene Creed (which Catholics also use, in Mass). The Nicene Creed starts with a theological discussion about God which does not appear in the Symbol of the Apostles. Thus Ratzinger writes this:

The Roman (and therefore the Western) creed is more historical-salvific-Christological. It remains, so to speak, within the positivism of Christian history. It simply picks up the fact that God became man for us, and does not look behind that history for its foundations and its connection with being itself. The East, on the other hand, wanted to understand the Christian faith within a cosmic-metaphysical perspective. In the profession of faith, this precipitate appears above all in the fact that Christology and creation are related to each other, and in that way the singularity of that history and the permanent and comprehensible nature of creation are closely linked.

He is actually comparing the Symbol of the Apostles to the Nicene Creed here.


Fonch | 1264 comments Manuel wrote: "I have the 1983 Spanish edition of the book we are reading, and the Prologue does not mention Liberation Theology. In fact, the Prologue is quite short, just about 2 pages."

Hello, excuse me for my delay in posting a post. I delay a lot in reading Saint Peter Alcantara`s book. I bought an edition of the Introduction to the Christianity of 2013. In my case appears the theology of the Liberation, Now we know that this theology was created by the Soviet Union to destroy the Catholic Church, however more dangerous than the Theology of the liberation is the evil ieolgy, in which Europe continued May of 68, in whose context this book was written in this circumstances. The drwadful inheritance of Sartre, Beavoir, Said, Cohn Bandit that in my opinion caused a lot of damage to the western Europe, and United States. In my opinion unfortunatelly this idelogy is arriving in United States, withouth the beadt of may 68 we can not understand the secularism, the statate beat the religion, the pansexualism, the gender ideology, the radical ecologism, and mutlticulturalism, overall the man converted in uniform mass that absorbed the message of the most relevant ideology. This is the evil of Europe.
About Alfonseca i agree with him Goodreads must solve the problem between the books of Benedict XVI, and Josef Ratzinger, both of them must be one. About the pope scripts i read Ilustrimi signoriss of the Pope John Paul I, Rerum Novarum, Laudato Si of the Pope Francis, and a piece of Deus in caritate.
It is interesting the case of the doubt, which has a different part in the believer, and not believer. In the first case it will be a challenge to his faith, in the second case can help to them to the conversion. In the foreword that i read Benedict XVI comented the interaction with other religions Buddhism, and hinduism, and the importance of the personalaty of Jesus Christ, more than the message. This is that Benedict had inserted in the book.
Aboy the creed, although it was obvious exists two creed of the apostle, and the Nicene Creed. It would not have problems with the Orthodoxian Church. The problem is other.
I do not know if you speak about this i would like speak about the history, the faciet, and faciendum, and how Vico, and Descartes are the recursors of the modernity. I studied this in a subject Theory of the history.


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John Seymour | 1888 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "I love his image of us being fastened to a plank (the cross) floating in a sea of uncertainty."

More than a week after reading it, that image still sticks with me.


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John Seymour | 1888 comments Mod
I keep coming back to his discussion in Section 2 of Chapter 1 on the conversion as a lifelong process, a re-turning every day and the suggestion, perhaps, that only at the end of life can we say we have faith, "only in a lifelong conversion can we become aware of what it means to say 'I believe."


Fonch | 1264 comments In my opinion is a very dificult book, but very interesting.


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John Seymour | 1888 comments Mod
Fonch wrote: "In my opinion is a very dificult book, but very interesting."

I completely agree. There are many times when I understand what he says, but am not at all sure what he means. Unlike some academic writers who use jargon to hide their meaning or lack of meaning, Benedict uses precise language, but the nature of the topic is such that clear meaning is beyond man. Very, very challenging, but very interesting. I think I will finish by the end of the month, but not by much. I am also trying to read Schall's Reasonable Pleasures: The Strange Coherences of Catholicism and The Divine Comedy I: Hell. The serendipitous coherences between Schall and Benedict are delightful and Sayers' introduction is amazing, though long.


Fonch | 1264 comments John wrote: "Fonch wrote: "In my opinion is a very dificult book, but very interesting."

I completely agree. There are many times when I understand what he says, but am not at all sure what he means. Unlike so..."


I totally agree with you John. There are a lot of paragraph, which cost to me understanding, however it is very interesting that Ratzinger, and something very interesting. He has an excellent sense of Humor, besides it is very interesting the reference, who makes about some writers Bernanos, Claudel, Herman Heese, even antichristian writers as Camus. The beggining with the story of the clown described by Cox, and Kierkegard it is awesome. And the stry of the children, who has to cross the forest in the night. His description of the fear. Alfonseca is right. My mistake was that i read this book very fast, althugh i had read slowly, i had not got to understand. I need to improve more with the modern theology. Particularly i am interested in the reflections of Benedict XVI about the history, because of is my profession.


Mariangel | 553 comments John wrote: There are many times when I understand what he says, but am not at all sure what he means.

Same here. I also have the problem that my ebook is not well formatted: quotation marks appear as periods, and too many periods in a same sentence sometimes make it hard to understand what it is that he actually wrote.

My libraries don't have Reasonable Pleasures, but this was one I was sorry went away from the list.

Yes, Sayers introductions and notes are excellent. Also, I like the rhythm of her translation, even though I have seen English critics call it forced. But it really does capture the some of the Italian rhythm (which is the same as the Spanish one in poetry), and that makes me appreciate it. Sayers' description of her attempt to do this made me understand a bit more how English poetry is structured, it is really quite different than Spanish or Italian poetry.


Fonch | 1264 comments Mariangel wrote: "John wrote: There are many times when I understand what he says, but am not at all sure what he means.

Same here. I also have the problem that my ebook is not well formatted: quotation marks appe..."

Sayers and Knox did excellent translations of Divine Comedy, and the holy Bible. I would like to read the Man born to be a king. A play of Jesus Christ, now i am reading a Story of Jesus by Giovani Papini.


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John Seymour | 1888 comments Mod
Mariangel wrote: "Yes, Sayers introductions and notes are excellent. Also, I like the rhythm of her translation, even though I have seen English critics call it forced. But it really does capture the some of the Italian rhythm (which is the same as the Spanish one in poetry), and that makes me appreciate it. Sayers' description of her attempt to do this made me understand a bit more how English poetry is structured, it is really quite different than Spanish or Italian poetry. "

Yes, exactly. I have never learned to enjoy poetry, but I am finding Sayers description of the differences between Italian and English poetry to be fascinating.


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John Seymour | 1888 comments Mod
Mariangel wrote: "I also have the problem that my ebook is not well formatted: quotation marks appear as periods, and too many periods in a same sentence sometimes make it hard to understand what it is that he actually wrote. "

Ouch. That would make it hard indeed.


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John Seymour | 1888 comments Mod
Mariangel wrote: "My libraries don't have Reasonable Pleasures, but this was one I was sorry went away from the list."

This was one that I so wanted to read that I bought it at the same time that we read the other book by Fr. Schall that we read, Remembering Belloc. When it dropped off the nominations list, I just moved it from my CBC potential future reads pile to my normal TBR (to be read) pile. I would be delighted to do a re-read at some point in the future if someone wanted to re-nominate it.


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