Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures, by Joseph Ratzinger

This was Ratzinger’s last book, I believe, based on a lecture that he gave shortly before his election in April 2005.

It’s a very short book–large margins and type–really a long essay (or lecture). Many of the themes here are familiar to B16-watchers. Principally, Ratzinger argues that rationality is the foundation of Christian belief because Christ is the Logos. Because of this, dialogue with nonbelievers who also believe in rationality is possible. This is Ratzinger’s bet–that rationality will prevail over the irrational and that Christianity will attract those who seek the truth.

I don’t believe that Ratzinger mentions Nietzsche in the book, but he has argued with him elsewhere, and his ghost paces in the background as Ratzinger naively insists on reason and good faith in argument; not power, not will, not force to dominate the reader. Serene argument, coolly presented, will have an audience.

Ratzinger suggests that nonbelievers live “as though God existed,” as though the universe had a purpose and was rationally created. He assumes that even this supreme fiction, if only that, is attractive to everyone. So this little book (he calls all his works “little books,” as though with more time on his hands, he would have produced an encyclopedia) is really a starting point for dialogue with postmodern culture.

Explore posts in the same categories: Book reviews

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