Profound insights into Benedict XVI's efforts to renew the Church
Scripture, Tradition, Office
by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
(Ignatius Press, 2008, hardback, 126pp, $29.90.
Available from Freedom Publishing)
God's Word: Scripture, Tradition, Office was released a short time before Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI. In the book, which includes material written over a period of 20 years, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger presents the Word of God as a living reality in the Church.
God's Word is encountered in the Bible, in Tradition and through the teaching office of the bishop, who, as a successor of the Apostles is the witness to divine revelation. Cardinal Ratzinger examines the relationship of the bishops to the Pope, separately and as a whole.
The nature of apostolic succession is considered and the author explores the views of non-Catholic Christians while remaining faithful to Catholic teaching and practice.
The book is intended for theological faculties, libraries and seminaries and makes serious demands on the reader. It has the style, formality and tone of a papal document, but is squarely in the tradition of modern Catholic apologetic writing facing the increasingly secular values of modern Western society.
In this situation, Church leaders have constantly to restate Catholic teaching to a world which ignores or marginalises God, religious issues and religious people.
Many modern Catholics are influenced by the agnostic tone of their secular societies and have adopted an ˆ la carte or "pick-and-mix" approach to traditional Catholic teachings which they find unpalatable and overly challenging.
With those Catholics, the Church has to restate that it has a Magisterium and that its teachings matter. The Church may generate a vast range of charitable activities for poor people, marginalised and excluded by dominant elites, but its doctrines and its worship are important too.
God's Word: Scripture, Tradition, Office includes the famous Erasmus Lecture given by Cardinal Ratzinger which assesses the strengths and weaknesses of modern critical approaches to the interpretation of the Bible.
God's Word provides profound insights into Pope Benedict XVI's efforts to renew the Church's participation in God's Truth through the divine Word, as well as the Church's mission to proclaim the Word to all people.
Since some modern Catholics find the demands of a full Christian living burdensome, Cardinal Ratzinger has the theme of "joy" as a central one in many of his addresses, some of which appear in this book.
The theme of "joy" pervades his theology: that the Christian faith, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is not a terrible imposition but truly "glad tidings" for mankind, the key to true and lasting joy and a hope that lives in the middle of life's anxieties, difficulties and struggles.
For priests, religious and laity who are concerned with presenting the Christian message in a positive, convincing and attractive way, as well as for all who wish to delve into the rich and exciting thought of Benedict XVI, this book will prove timely and provide insights for personal reflection, preaching and teaching.