Critical Paper on Nature, and Mission of Theology by Joseph Ratzinger

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1884 Words
Date:  2022-09-21


This paper provides an analysis of the Joseph's Ratzinger's Book, "Nature, and Mission of Theology." Specifically, it focuses on the two sections, Parts One and Two, Ratzinger comprehensively discusses the presuppositions and Bases of the Theological Work. As part of Part 1, Ratzinger discusses the "Faith, Philosophy, and Theology" while in Part 2, he discusses the "Nature and Forms of Theology." The mystery theology brings to the life of a Christian depends on the revelation of faith and philosophy based on the knowledge of the word of God as proclaimed by the theologians. Based on the in-depth analysis of the text, the general implications of death on the life of Christian, rely on the nature of the theological perspective, faith along with the philosophical approaches employed to reveal the true word of God (Psalms 23:4). In a bid to understand the misconceptions on theological underpinnings to Christian, this paper intends to focus on the theology as perceived by most Christians and the interrelationship with faith, philosophy alongside the doctrinal decrees. It is worth noting the fact that, historically the idea of the early fathers that Christianity itself was a genuine philosophy tends to confuse most Christians today, and it is subject to clarification on its innate relationship with faith, theological approaches, and philosophical perspectives.

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Historical Context

Ratzinger's Book, "The Nature, and Mission of Theology" is based on the current or the contemporary historical time and focuses on the ongoing debate regarding theology, its mission, role, and limits that began after the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican. The discussion of theology has taken another shift altogether with different views forwarded to back or support the already existing ideas regarding it. The years that followed the Second Vatican Council have been tremendously productive for the Catholic theology. Notably, new theological voices have emerged especially those of the laymen and women. These integrate the theology of the new cultural contexts, particularly Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

In the same way, there have been further thematic reflections centered on issues such as peace, justice, liberation, ecology, and bioethics. As part of the debate, therefore, the Catholic theology has sought to follow the direction established and opened by the council, whose primary aim was to express its solidarity and respectful affection for the whole human family. It has happened through entering into the dialogue with it and providing the savings resources that the church has obtained from its founders through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This historical period has further seen a given disintegration of theology. As part of the ongoing debate, the theology has always faced numerous challenges of maintaining its own true identity. The question, therefore, revolves around the characteristics that the Catholic theology provides, through its many forms, an explicit identity in its involvement in the world. To a given degree, the church explicitly requires a common discourse, in any case, it needs to communicate the message that Christ was sent to deliver the earth, both theologically and pastorally. Just as Ratzinger mention in the book, it is therefore vital and legitimate to speak of the absolute unity of theology. Contrary, this kind of integration requires an excellent understanding to avoid any potential confusion with the uniformity or a single style. The theological unity, just like the one for the church as stipulated in the Creed requires a close correlation with the catholicity ideas, in addition to those of apostolicity and holiness. This idea, as related to the church, gets its meaning within the context of the Christ Himself, who is the savior of the universe as well as the humanity (Eph. 1:3-10; 1Tim 2:3-6). In this sense, therefore, the church is at home in any country and culture and yearns to obtain everything possible for salvation and sanctification.

Summary of the Book

As depicted by the thematic issues addressed in the book, Joseph Ratzinger writes the book as a response to the ongoing dialogue about the theology and the clarification of its mission, methods, limits. In his view, Ratzinger believes that it has become so necessary and urgent to join the discussion regarding the limits and task of theology. Ratzinger asserts that doing theology the manner in which magisterium understand theology is not adequate to calculate the way in which the religion can reasonably be expected to man of the man and use its components and Christian tradition bits, which have been made transparent to the believers. As such, Ratzinger tremendously believes that not every religious theory has the right to label as Christian or the Catholic Theology. In fact theology wishes to do so as anybody who decides to lay claim on it is obligated to accept the essential elements that associated with it before given along with it.

Additionally, Ratzinger shares his insights on the relationship between philosophy, theology, pluralism as well as the current status of the theological studies in the contemporary world. In Part One demonstrates itself as a must read for both the believers and non-believers. Evidently, Ratzinger offers his reflections on the relationship between philosophy and theology but in a perspective that both are vital for the existence of each other. He further revisits the ecclesial or communal character of faith, and more also assesses the nature of pluralism, in addition to the vital role of the modern church. Finally, the book provides a highly comprehensive examination of the contemporary culture's philosophical worldviews and illustrate that because of it, a misleading opinion, misunderstanding of the faith, and church emerges. Through the book, both the believers and non-believers can observe how more holistic and meaningful understanding impacts as a result of doing things from the perspective of the authentic faith and church.


In Part 1 (The Unity of Philosophy and Theology in Early Christianity), Ratzinger argues that it is the philosophy that provided a good foundation for the establishment and the development of early Christianity. According to Ratzinger, the relationship between the theology and faith is still abstract, but the reality is it is the philosophy which enabled the first plastic expression of the gospel. Most ancient Christian sculptures which no longer exists currently but found during the third century of the Sarcophagi. Their iconographical cannon comprised of the three figures namely the shepherd, the orans and the philosopher itself. To Ratzinger, this kind of association or relationship implies that one of the roots of Christian art centres in the conquest of death. In this way, such three figures are undeniably the response to the radical challenges imposed on a human being by death. In reality, the relationship between Christianity and Philosophy and their intersection as described by Ratzinger in response to the death question and the challenges it poses on the man appears to be the only remaining existential question that faces man. The portrayal of the Christ in the early artistic scriptures through the figure of a philosopher reveals the idea, nature and the mission of the old philosophy tremendously. In this sense, therefore, the philosophy is depicted as the search of meaning in the face of death but now reflected through the pursuit of Christ. The resurrection of Lazarus describes and supports this reasoning, where the Christ stands to represent the philosopher, who offers an adequate power of transforming the death, which also signifies changing the life.

In the book, Ratzinger supports his arguments and ideas with the evidence of St. Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas mentions that philosophy is the search of the unaided reason for the answers of the ultimate question about the reality. As such, the philosophical knowledge consists exclusively that kind of knowledge which reason as such gain by itself with the guidance of the revelation. In this way, therefore, the theology is the rational reflection upon the revelation of God and constitutes to a faith that seeks understanding. It does not discover its contents by itself but receives them from the disclosure to have better inner knowledge of their natural elements and intelligibility. In reality, the method adopted by Aquinas as well as the content of his teachings regarding the entire way he treated the philosophy and theology and ultimately bringing into focus their harmony and differences make him one of the highly admired theologians. The arguments presented above not only offers a complete worldview and the explanation of the human life but tremendously integrates the question of God and religion. While the majority of people still believe that the philosophy and theology were two different and incompatible worlds, I think, through Ratzinger's ideas on his book, that the two were indeed compatible and that it expounded philosophy without the knowledge of Christ. It was indeed waiting for Jesus' light to under its completion.

About the Gnosis, Philosophy, and Theology, Ratzinger explores the relationship between Gnosis and Philosophy. While faith demonstrates itself as a defender of both the grandeur and the miseries that philosophy presented, Gnosis appeared to be a negation of philosophy. In line with Ratzinger assertions, it is eviident that Gnosis has presented itself as something that opposes the philosophy. The authentic philosophy has appeared to disgusts us and to a significant degree weary of itself. Notably, it shares the impatience to become like other academic fields both in nature and intrinsically. Its fundamental aim is to resemble itself the way it is precisely. However, it buys the exactitude at the price of its greatness thus lacking the ability to pose the questions that are appropriate to it alone. Ratzinger asserts that faith supports philosophy. In reality, faith never menaces philosophy but instead defends it from the total Gnosis' claims. It requires the philosophy because it needs someone to question and seek. However, the questioning in such circumstances does not place barriers to faith, but the closure that no longer wants to interrogate holds the truth to be unreachable.

Ratzinger further supports his main argument in Part 2 of his book. In the "Nature and Form of Theology," he explores various concepts and areas such as The New Subject as the Precondition and Foundation of All Theology, conversion, the Ecclesial Character of Conversion and Its impacts for Theology, Faith, Proclamation and Theology and The Temptation and Greatness of Theology. Primarily, Ratzinger puts forth that it is unlikely that any sensible Christian would think or contest that they entrusts the church alone for the care for God's Word among the men. Largely, Ratzinger mentions that Theology must always return to the faith that is proclaimed instead of becoming disconnected and wander off into some ethereal realm of the "true knowledge." A closer look at Ratzinger's arguments, in this case, reveals that he has succeeded in offering limelight about the nature that theology possesses as well as the form that it takes. In reality, the revelation of God is the height of the truth that a no man can reach on his own but must receive from above. Evidently, philosophy links to the components and content of the faith deposit guarded by the church's Magisterium throughout the ages. In this sense, theology must speak to the man regarding the most fundamental questions of the human existence. In fact, the faith speaks intimately to man as a man.

Jesus Christ reveals himself as the one who has the power over death. He further portrays Himself as one who possesses the knowledge and power of life. Howev...

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Critical Paper on Nature, and Mission of Theology by Joseph Ratzinger. (2022, Sep 21). Retrieved from

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