1. Felicific Forest
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    14 Nov '05 21:40
    http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features/cardratzinger_tt_oct04.asp


    Cardinal Ratzinger Considers Whether Truth, Faith, and Tolerance Are Compatible

    Jesus Christ is the only savior, says Christianity. "Can this absolute claim still be maintained today?" That’s the question addressed by the Vatican’s Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in his new book, Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions.

    When, in 2000, the Catholic Church reiterated its teaching about Jesus in its declaration Dominus Iesus, "a cry of outrage arose from modern society," notes Ratzinger, "but also from great non-Christian cultures such as that of India: this was said to be a document of intolerance and of religious arrogance that should have no place in the world of today." Ratzinger argues that the Church’s teaching is not intolerant but true.

    How can Christianity insist it is true in the face of other religions and philosophies making competing claims? Do truth and tolerance inevitably conflict with each other? Does respect for others mean all religions are equally true? Does the diversity of religions prove there’s no such thing as religious truth? Or do all religions ultimately teach the same thing? Are all religions capable of saving their adherents?

    Truth and Tolerance is Ratzinger’s careful answers to these important questions.

    Ratzinger confronts head-on the claim that Christianity has imposed European culture on other peoples. "Christianity … originated, not in Europe, but in the Near East, in the geographical point at which the continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe come into contact," he writes.

    Yes, Christianity has a European element. But above all it has a perennial message that comes from God, not from any human culture, argues Ratzinger. While Christians have sometimes pushed their cultures on other peoples, as have non-Christians, Christianity itself is alien to no authentically human culture. Its very nature as a free response to God’s gift of himself in Jesus Christ, means that Christianity must propose itself to culture, not impose itself.

    The issues of truth and diversity in religion are also tackled by Ratzinger. Some people relegate religion to the realm of feelings and taste. As people’s feelings and tastes vary, so, too, do their religious ideas and practices. Ratzinger responds by presenting what he calls "the inevitability of the question of truth."

    Other people argue that all religions essentially affirm the same things. Truth and Tolerance points to fundamental, non-negotiable differences among religions, as well as certain common elements.

    Ratzinger distinguishes two main forms of religion. On the one hand, there is a kind of mysticism in which one seeks to merge into or become identical with everything, in an all-embracing, impersonal unity. Many Eastern religions and the New Age movement are religions of that sort. On the other hand, there is "a personal understanding of God," in which one is united in love with a personal God and yet remains distinct from him. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are examples of the latter kind of religion.

    A first-rate theologian, as well as a church leader, Ratzinger also assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the three main contemporary approaches to a "theology of religions": exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism.

    Exclusivism holds that only those who explicitly accept Christ and the Christian message can be saved. Inclusivism is the view that non-Christian religions implicitly contain Christian truth and therefore that their adherents are "anonymous Christians." Pluralism holds that there are many valid ways to God among the various religions.

    At the heart of the discussion about the diversity of religions, contends Ratzinger, is the identity of Jesus Christ. Is the he the sole savior, prefigured by other religious leaders perhaps but nonetheless unique? Is he one among many religious figures who bring salvation? Is he the one true God in human flesh, rather an avatar or one among many different manifestations of the divine?

    Christianity has always held that the revelation of God in Jesus Christ is definitive, argues Ratzinger. The divinity of Jesus is "the real dividing line in the history of religions," which makes sense of "two other fundamental concepts of the Christian faith, which have become unmentionable nowadays: conversion and mission."

    Relativism, which Ratzinger calls "the central problem for faith in our time," lurks behind most modern mistakes about faith and morality. The net result is a deep skepticism about whether anything is true or can be known to be true.

    Christianity can help modern thought overcome its relativism and skepticism by presenting the One who is the truth, Jesus Christ, the one who sets people free by their coming to know, understand and love the truth. Ratzinger explains how tolerance, reason and freedom are not only compatible with truth, but ultimately depend upon it.

    With respect to the difficult subject of things interreligious, Ratzinger strongly supports interreligious dialogue, so long as it isn’t understood as assuming all points of view are and must be, in the end, equally valid. About interreligious prayer—understood as prayer together by Christians and non-Christians, with widely different religious views—he is more skeptical. He distinguishes multireligious prayer, where different religious groups come together but pray separate from one another, and interreligious prayer.

    Ratzinger doubts whether reasonable conditions for interreligious prayer can generally be met. Still, he lays out careful criteria for such prayer, which include agreement about the nature of God, and the nature and subject of prayer, as well circumstances that don’t lend themselves to misunderstanding such common prayer as relativism or a denial of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ in the Christian faith.

    Truth and Tolerance is a book for anyone interested in how Christianity, world religions, faith, truth, and freedom fit together.



    http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features/cardratzinger_tt_oct04.asp
  2. Standard memberNemesio
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    15 Nov '05 01:34
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    A first-rate theologian, as well as a church leader, Ratzinger also assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the three main contemporary approaches to a "theology of religions": exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism.

    ...Inclusivism is the view that non-Christian religions implicitly contain Christian truth and therefore that their adherents are "anonymous Christians."


    Benedict nee Ratzinger is a powerful intellect. Irrespective of your
    religious positions, everyone must concede that he commands a
    tremendous amount of knowledge of theology and philosophy. The
    book is, no doubt, a worthy read.

    Have you read it, Ivanhoe (or LH)? What does he say about the
    pros and cons of Inclusivism?

    Nemesio
  3. Donationrwingett
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    15 Nov '05 01:43
    Originally posted by Nemesio
    What does he say about the pros and cons of Inclusivism?

    Nemesio
    What does he say about The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking?
  4. Felicific Forest
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    15 Nov '05 02:121 edit
    Originally posted by Nemesio
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    [b]A first-rate theologian, as well as a church leader, Ratzinger also assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the three main contemporary approaches to a "theology of religions": exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism.

    ...Inclusivism is the view that non-Christ read it, Ivanhoe (or LH)? What does he say about the
    pros and cons of Inclusivism?

    Nemesio
    I put the book on my "To Read" List.
  5. Hmmm . . .
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    15 Nov '05 03:02
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features/cardratzinger_tt_oct04.asp


    Cardinal Ratzinger Considers Whether Truth, Faith, and Tolerance Are Compatible

    Jesus Christ is the only savior, says Christianity. "Can this absolute claim still be maintained today?" That’s the question addressed by the Vatican’s Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in his new book, Truth an ...[text shortened]... freedom fit together.



    http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features/cardratzinger_tt_oct04.asp
    Relativism, which Ratzinger calls "the central problem for faith in our time," lurks behind most modern mistakes about faith and morality. The net result is a deep skepticism about whether anything is true or can be known to be true.

    Maybe I’m out of touch with the general views of society, but I still have the feeling that this is a red herring. I personally can’t think of a person I know who is skeptical about “whether anything is true” or whether anything “can be known to be true.” That does not mean to say that our descriptions of the mystery (our “maps,” if you will) ought not to be treated as provisional; or that each map might not contain some aspect of the truth that is better articulated than in other maps. Christianity may have some of it “more right” than the Buddhists, who may have some of it “more right” than Christianity, etc.

    I just don’t see relativism, on the one hand, and “this is the absolute one-and-only truth” on the other as a helpful delineation. Nor do I see saying (always, at least to myself) that “I might be wrong” as relativism.

    Christianity has always held that the revelation of God in Jesus Christ is definitive, argues Ratzinger.

    And Judaism holds that it isn’t. And that fact has, unfortunately, been the source of far greater historical injury to Jews, I think, than any relativism. And, rather than laying any blame for that, I would rather say that it was due to lack of the ability to foresee regrettable consequences. (And, just to note, the RCC isn’t even particularly at fault here.)

    With respect to the difficult subject of things interreligious, Ratzinger strongly supports interreligious dialogue, so long as it isn’t understood as assuming all points of view are and must be, in the end, equally valid.

    Perhaps. But the movement must eventually be from tolerance, to respect, to appreciation—of the other and the other’s views. For example, the Jewish refusal to see Jesus as ha Moshiach, and the reasons for it, must not only be tolerated and respected, but appreciated—even in disagreement. By “appreciated” I almost mean “cherished.”

    He distinguishes multireligious prayer, where different religious groups come together but pray separate from one another, and interreligious prayer.

    That sounds like a wise and insightful distinction… With this caveat: sometimes we can pray together “separately.”
  6. Hmmm . . .
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    22 Nov '05 00:564 edits
    This is mostly just a “bump,” ‘cause I thought this thread had possibilities…

    However, I was recently reading some essays by Abraham Joshua Heschel (1906-72), a rather famous rabbi and Jewish scholar—and a good candidate for Kirk’s “Ivory Tower Blessed Are they” thread (if you’ve ever seen the photo of the civil rights marches in Selma, that little old white-bearded rabbi marching with Martin Luther King is Heschel). Heschel was apparently a consultant on Jewish beliefs to a Cardinal Bea (?) and was instrumental in convincing the RCC to exclude any references to “a mission [of conversion] to the Jews” from a Second Vatican Council statement.

    Basically, Heschel’s view is that “God obviously wants religious pluralism.” He was close friends with Protestant theologians Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr, and catholic theologian Gustave Weigel.

    A few poignant quotes:

    “In conversations with Protestant and Catholic theologians I have more than once come upon an attitude of condescension to Judaism, a sort of pity for those who have not yet seen the light; tolerance instead of reverence.”

    “Thus any conversation between Christian and Jew in which abandonment of the other partner’s faith is a silent hope must be regarded as offensive to one’s religious and human dignity.”

    “Religion is a means, not an end. It becomes idolatrous when regarded as an end in itself…. To equate religion and God is idolatry. Does not the all-inclusiveness of God contradict the exclusiveness of any particular religion?....Is it not blasphemous to say: I alone have the truth and the grace, and all those who differ live in darkness and are abandoned by the grace of God?...Is it really our desire to build a monolithic society: one party, one view, one leader, and no opposition? Is religious uniformity desirable or even possible?”

    “Human faith is never final, never an arrival, but rather an endless pilgrimage, a being on the way.”

    “Gustave Weigel spent the last evening of his life in my study at the Jewish Theological Seminary. We opened our hearts to one another in prayer and contrition and spoke of our deficiencies, failures, hopes. At one moment I posed the question: Is it really the will of God that there be no more Judaism in the world? Would it really be the triumph of God if the scrolls of the Torah were no longer taken out of the Ark and the Torah no longer read in the synagogue, our ancient Hebrew prayers in which Jesus himself worshipped no more recited, the Passover Seder no longer celebrated in our lives, the Law of Moses no longer observed in our homes? Would it really be ad Majorem Dei gloriam to have a world without Jews?” (italics in original; Heschel does not record in the essay Weigel’s response)*

    “I believe that one of the achievements of this age will be the realization that our age of religious pluralism is the will of God, that the relationship between Judaism and Christianity will be one of mutual reverence, that without denying profound divergences, Jew and Christian will seek to help each other in understanding each one’s respective commitment and in deepening appreciation of what God means.”**

    * The forgoing quotes from Heschel’s essay “No Religion is an Island.”

    ** From “The God of Israel and Christian Renewal,” an address to a Canadian Catholic conference.

    EDIT: Heschel also saw "relativism" as a major problem, but I had the same reaction reading him...
  7. Forgotten
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    22 Nov '05 01:53
    ratzinger is very wise
    thats why he looks just like yoda
  8. Hmmm . . .
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    22 Nov '05 02:48
    Originally posted by aspviper666
    ratzinger is very wise
    thats why he looks just like yoda
    Except that small and green he is not...😉
  9. Standard memberWulebgr
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    22 Nov '05 03:131 edit
    Is the term "authentically human culture" Ratzinger's, or does it originate with the reviewer. This strikes me a lot like the old missionary saw that was employed to justify all that was not European in the conversion of many tribal peoples to Christianity. For example, the Church's continuing rejection of the devoted Catholicism of the Yaqui proceeds from this distorted ideology of "authentic". It does appear from your review that Ratzinger is grappling with this quandary, so it is important to know whether that is his term.

    It appears that the Cardinal is a learned man, approaching critical issues of exclusivity that lie at the heart of traditional notions of Christianity. I suspect the book would be provocative reading for the faithful in many traditions, as well as to certain agnostics and athiests.

    I add my voice to vistesd's insightful comments here:

    Originally posted by vistesd
    Maybe I’m out of touch with the general views of society, but I still have the feeling that this is a red herring. I personally can’t think of a person I know who is skeptical about “whether anything is true” or whether anything “can be known to be true.” That does not mean to say that our descriptions of the mystery (our “maps,” if you will) ought not to be treated as provisional; or that each map might not contain some aspect of the truth that is better articulated than in other maps. Christianity may have some of it “more right” than the Buddhists, who may have some of it “more right” than Christianity, etc.

    I just don’t see relativism, on the one hand, and “this is the absolute one-and-only truth” on the other as a helpful delineation. Nor do I see saying (always, at least to myself) that “I might be wrong” as relativism.


    I believe that the near Eastern religious texts, of which the Bible is the most influential, are true insofar as they are understood as true accounts for peoples' quest for connection to the spiritual aspects of being. When they are taken as exclusive truths, as Ratzinger does, they are grievously in error. Nonetheless, there should be no question that certain religious perspectives are far less tenable than others. For instance, the Catholic tradition within which Ratzinger develops his ideas is clearly superior to American Fundamentalism, which fails even to understand the cultural and historical contexts within which these texts are elements.
  10. Hmmm . . .
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    22 Nov '05 04:15
    Originally posted by Wulebgr
    Is the term "authentically human culture" Ratzinger's, or does it originate with the reviewer. This strikes me a lot like the old missionary saw that was employed to justify all that was not European in the conversion of many tribal peoples to Christianity. For example, the Church's continuing rejection of the devoted Catholicism of the Yaqui proceeds fr ...[text shortened]... s even to understand the cultural and historical contexts within which these texts are elements.
    I believe that the near Eastern religious texts, of which the Bible is the most influential, are true insofar as they are understood as true accounts for peoples' quest for connection to the spiritual aspects of being.

    This is just an aside, not a critique, of your comment: I have said this so often recently, that folks are probably getting tired of it, but rabbinical Judaism is a highly hermeneutical religion which recognizes that the Hebrew texts do not admit of any “one-an-only right” interpretation—hence the Talmudic and midrashic emphasis on searching out every possible meaning, even highly innovative ones.* Every student of Torah is expected to bring his/her torah to the text. Debate and disagreement are encouraged (at least among most Jews; there might be some “fundamentalist” fringe groups).

    For instance, the Catholic tradition within which Ratzinger develops his ideas is clearly superior to American Fundamentalism, which fails even to understand the cultural and historical contexts within which these texts are elements.

    It’s interesting that Heschel felt that Catholicism had become far more open to accepting Judaism qua Judaism, whereas he did not see nearly as much openness among Protestants. He dieid in 1972, so maybe a lot of Protestants have moved more since (though likely not the fundamentalists).

    * The only exception, I think: “God is one.” However, that, too is subject to some interpretation…
  11. Felicific Forest
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    22 Nov '05 20:33
    Originally posted by sasquatch672
    I'm not giving you a hard time. But Fundamentalist Islam (probably mainstream Islam) asserts the same things about Islam that the Pope asserts about Christianity.
    Are you sure ?
  12. London
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    22 Nov '05 20:39
    Originally posted by vistesd
    This is mostly just a “bump,” ‘cause I thought this thread had possibilities…

    However, I was recently reading some essays by Abraham Joshua Heschel (1906-72), a rather famous rabbi and Jewish scholar—and a good candidate for Kirk’s “Ivory Tower Blessed Are they” thread (if you’ve ever seen the photo of the civil rights marches in Selma, that little old wh ...[text shortened]... Heschel also saw "relativism" as a major problem, but I had the same reaction reading him...
    “Thus any conversation between Christian and Jew in which abandonment of the other partner’s faith is a silent hope must be regarded as offensive to one’s religious and human dignity.”

    Why?

    If you are a supporter of capitalism and I of communism, is it offensive for either of us to silentily hope that the other will change his view?
  13. London
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    22 Nov '05 20:431 edit
    Originally posted by vistesd
    This is mostly just a “bump,” ‘cause I thought this thread had possibilities…

    However, I was recently reading some essays by Abraham Joshua Heschel (1906-72), a rather famous rabbi and Jewish scholar—and a good candidate for Kirk’s “Ivory Tower Blessed Are they” thread (if you’ve ever seen the photo of the civil rights marches in Selma, that little old wh ...[text shortened]... Heschel also saw "relativism" as a major problem, but I had the same reaction reading him...
    Does not the all-inclusiveness of God contradict the exclusiveness of any particular religion?....

    I'm sorry - but that just sounds like word-play to me.

    The objects (referands) of the terms "inclusiveness" and "exclusiveness" in the above sentence are not the same. [God's] inclusiveness refers to people, whereas [religious] exclusiveness refers to propositions.
  14. Hmmm . . .
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    22 Nov '05 23:07
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    [b]“Thus any conversation between Christian and Jew in which abandonment of the other partner’s faith is a silent hope must be regarded as offensive to one’s religious and human dignity.”

    Why?

    If you are a supporter of capitalism and I of communism, is it offensive for either of us to silentily hope that the other will change his view?[/b]
    Why?

    If you are a supporter of capitalism and I of communism, is it offensive for either of us to silentily hope that the other will change his view?


    No, let’s stick with the subject at hand, which has as a backdrop the entire Jewish-Christian history; and that is what Heschel is speaking out of, not political philosophy. (And that is why I think this thread has value.) It is out of that history that Heschel speaks of “condescension”—and others speak of supercessionism. I also want to note that the Jewish-Christian question is, because of that history, somewhat different from, say, a Christian-Buddhist question.

    So:

    (1) Do you agree with Heschel’s assessment of religious pluralism (a question which was mentioned in Ivanhoe’s opening post)?

    (2) Was Heschel’s hope realized—that is, that the Catholic Church has come to reverence Judaism qua Judaism, with no effort toward conversion? I don’t think most Protestants have, maybe some.

    (3) I have had the feeling that RCC’s answer to the questions Heschel posed to Weigel is now simply, “No, we no longer think that.” Am I wrong?

    [NOTE: I have to admit to a bit of personal interest in asking these questions. A number of years ago, I found out that I have some Jewish ancestry—ancestry that had been kept secret in my family (Out of what? Shame? Embarrassment? Simple anti-Semitism?) for years, even to the extent of destroying birth certificates! A few people in my family have expressed discomfort with my studies of Judaism since finding all that out. It has just sharpened my interest in Jewish-Christian relations more than, again. Christian-Buddhist relations. With all that said, I don’t think anybody posting here is an anti-Semite, or even an anti-Judaist.]
  15. Hmmm . . .
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    23 Nov '05 01:38
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    [b]Does not the all-inclusiveness of God contradict the exclusiveness of any particular religion?....

    I'm sorry - but that just sounds like word-play to me.

    The objects (referands) of the terms "inclusiveness" and "exclusiveness" in the above sentence are not the same. [God's] inclusiveness refers to people, whereas [religious] exclusiveness refers to propositions.[/b]
    You might be right, but—

    Is the Middle Eastern history of God, as recorded in the Bible, the whole history of God’s relationship with humanity? Did God make no revelation to those in India where Hinduism developed? Or among (American) Indians who were practicing some form of Shamanism 8,000 years ago? Is all other religious history not only superceded, but rendered retroactively in error, by a very late event in human history? Did God never want any of those other religions? Was God always “offended” by their erroneous understandings?

    I suspect these questions may have no satisfactory answer. I am reminded, however, of a story by rabbi and author Chaim Potok (The Chosen, The Book of Lights, My Name is Asher Lev) about when he was a chaplain in Korea. He traveled to Kyoto on a leave, and visited all the religious temples and sites. At one site—Shinto, I think—he asked a local Japanese person about Shinto and its differences from Buddhism, etc. During the exchange, the Japanese asked Potok, “And what religion are you?” Potok replied that he was a Jew. In total innocence, the Japanese asked, “And what is a Jew?” She had absolutely no idea. Potok was, perhaps somewhat naively, stunned. He had grown up in New York, and everyone knew what a Jew was. There were Jews and non-Jews, particularly Christians, and they knew the difference. He had never imagined a culture where someone would just not have any idea what he meant when he said he was a Jew.
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