Item description for What It Means to Be a Christian: Three Sermons by Joseph Ratzinger & Henry Taylor...
Overview Presents three sermons on how to live as a Christian in the modern secular world, discussing the true meaning of love for God and for one's neighbor and the importance of faith, both for oneself and as a witness to others.
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More About Joseph Ratzinger & Henry Taylor
Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) is widely recognized as one of the most brilliant theologians and spiritual leaders of our age. As theology professor, prelate, prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine and now Pope, he has been an inspiring teacher and a prolific writer. As Pope he has authored important encyclicals, as well as the best-selling Jesus of Nazareth. Prior to his pontificate, he wrote many influential books that continue to remain important for the contemporary Church, such as "Introduction to Christianity" and "The Spirit of the Liturgy".
Reviews - What do customers think about What It Means to Be a Christian: Three Sermons?
A Shining Star Apr 29, 2008
This exquisite volume discusses the underlying theme of Advent, and builds theological momentum with each section. Anyone truly interested in theology should repeatedly read this classic. You will be slowly immersed into a shockingly different universe. These challenging sermons date to 1964, less than 20 years after the end of World War II. Clearly, the charge against Pope Benedict XVI being a Nazi is untrue, the Pope does not hide from, nor excuse, antisemitism. Prejudices clearly exist and must be unearthed, no matter how self-consciously Christians may praise their Semitic roots. Unfortunately, others do not follow the Pope's example in this: Father Richard John Neuhaus, who although he acknowledges the Church's relationship to Jews through the Jewish Rabbi Jesus, became huffy and arch while reviewing "Hitler's Willing Executioners." Get real and look at the results - if only there had been more unwilling executioners. Neuhaus excuses Martin Luther's hateful writings against Jews, the blueprint for the 1938 Nazi Kristallnacht.
Pope Benedict XVI has a personal awareness of the Holocaust, and the question of how we can have faith despite the horrors of the world are addressed here. This book is the antithesis of self-satisfied, smarmy spiritual drivel, as perpetrated by Hahn, et al.. It's clear why this Pope has never supported the neurotic, elitist Opus Dei, and in fact has distanced himself from this egocentric, self indulgent organization. In "What It Means to Be a Christian," the Pope wrote: "Everything we believe about God, and everything we know about man, prevents us from accepting that beyond the limits of the Church there is no more salvation, that up to the time of Christ all men were subject to eternal damnation" (pg 45).
The Pope addresses the eternal question of human evil and the problem of faith, the advent of Christ, and what it means to be human. He advocates that faith must look at the hard questions, and bring our doubts and anger to God, and that, like Job, we must wrestle with these issues in an open way. Surprisingly, he reflects on: "the reality as we find it in the Church, all the various ranks and gradations that have been thought up, all the courtly ceremony!" (p 30). Sadly, the Pope's later work often reflects the indoctrination and responsibilities of a holy bureaucrat, a necessary hardening of thought, or crusting over. Yet the formation of real faith requires the strength the ask tough questions.
A Little Gem Mar 10, 2008
This little book -- three sermons by Joseph Ratzinger, is a real gem. The first sermon: Are We Saved? Or, Job Talks with God is the best of the three sermons. It is remarkable in what it says about, "What it means to be a Christian," and serves as an honest examination on our failures as a so called "Christian" people. There is salvation outside the Church, and being inside the Church does not necessarily guarantee the salvation of anyone!
The Second Sermon Faith as Service was well done but about half way through it lost some of its sharpness. It spite of that it was still an excellent sermon and a call for all of humanity to serve their brother or sister. The "judgment" of all religions is, "How does it serve its fellow man?"
The Third Sermon Above All: Love was, in my opinion the weakest of the three sermons. Perhaps my brain and spirit was dulled by the time I read this sermon since I read straight through all sermons is one sitting. I probably should have taken a break between readings.
All in all a great book! Recommend it to Christians and religious skeptics -- it might just open the eyes of the reader as to how open minded this Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict XVI really is! He proves himself a theologian and thinker.
Actually read the book! Apr 7, 2007
Given the anti-Catholic reviews on this (and other Catholic book pages) by folks who have never read the texts they are posting reviews on, I thought I would actually buy and read this book. I've read through the book this week, and must say it was well worth it.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in this series of sermons is not speaking to the North American Fundamentalist, it should be pointed out. In fact, his sermons are not even addressed specifically to Americans. It is certainly not a treatise on justification as some may think from the title. Cardinal Ratzinger is very aware of the decay of European society and the decline of Christian values and spiritual well being in Europe. Many of his texts, this one included, calls us back from secularism and individualism. He calls Christians to service to the Gospel message, to be heralds in the world and not to lose that important missionary zeal. He notes that the true Christian does not only become a Christian for the salvation of his own soul, but for others as well:
"Becoming a Christian is not taking out an individual insurance policy; it is not the private booking of an entry ticket into heaven, so that we can look across at other people and say, 'I've got something the others haven't got; I've got salvation arranged for me that they don't possess.' Becoming a Christian is not at all something given to us so that we, each individual for himself, can pocket it and keep our distance from those others who are going off empty-handed." (pg 54)
The intent of the text is not to say "This is how you become a Christian", but to address Christians and say "You are called to live a life of service to the Gospel, to work in the vineyard of the Lord, this is what it means to be a Christian".
An entire text is well worth reading, Protestant or Catholic.
Blessed are those who are persecuted... Mar 3, 2007
I was a non-catholic christian for 26 years. I used to think like a couple of the reviewers of this book. But PRAISE GOD I don't anymore. This book is incredible. It is simple, concise, and TRUE. This orthodox Pope is a gift from God to all christians, Catholic or protestant. I would encourage everyone to read this powerful collection of sermons from this very devout, humble, and loving man. And just to clear up a couple of things from some of the other reviews of this book, Catholics don't worship anyone but the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We honor Mary as Jesus did and still does. Even He obeys the commandment He wrote, "Honor your mother and father", which in His case would be , Mary and the Holy Spirit. And we don't worship Saints either, we simply ask them to pray for us, it's called the communion of the saints. One might want to look into what one thinks is the Catholic Church, not what one assumes it to be. That's what I used to do too.
Peace of Jesus, Keith
Excellent: Edifying and Challenging. Oct 4, 2006
This is a collection of three sermons given by the young Joseph Ratzinger (decades before his elevation to Cardinal and his eventual election as pope) to an audience of Catholic College Chaplains. Orienting his reflection on the metaphor of Christianity understood as Advent, Ratzinger does a splendid job elucidating the Gospel message of what it means to be a Christian in contemporary terms that strike a chord some 40-plus years after they were first spoken.
This is the second publication in English, the first by Franciscan Herald Press - same publisher of his dissertation - and it bears a new translation. While the opportunity to be more inclusive in some of the general references to humanity (vs. "Man") was neglected, and may prove to be a mild burden to the reader conscious of the exclusive nature of such a language-choice, the translation as a whole is very approachable and easily read.
Perhaps the most frequently mentioned milestone in Ratzinger's life by his biographers and scholars is his so-called "intellectual conversion" (or "regression as some have declared) during the academic turmoil in 1968. For those who wish to read something that predates that event, this is a great starting place. Sermons given in December 1964 and first published in German in 1965, this is a taste of his theological vision nearly a half-decade prior to the 1968 revolutions. A must-read for any scholar (professional or "armchair" alike) of Ratzinger/Benedict XVI!