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The Meaning of Christian Brotherhood [Paperback]

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Item Number 126594  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   93
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.05" Width: 5.28" Height: 0.33"
Weight:   0.35 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 1993
Publisher   Ignatius Press
ISBN  0898704464  
EAN  9780898704464  

Availability  3 units.
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Item Description...
Written over three decades ago, Cardinal Ratzinger's profound treatise on the true meaning of Christian brotherhood is perhaps even more timely and important now as a clear statement on the biblical grounds for cooperation among believing Christians. In treating Christian brotherhood from the perspective of salvation history, Ratzinger opens up the meaning of both the Old and New Testament in this most essential area. After establishing the distinctively Christian sense of brotherhood (vis-a-vis Judaism, Hellenism, Stoicism, the Enlightenment, and Marxism), he shows how fraternal charity can only be perfected through God's fatherhood, Christ's divine sonship, and our brotherhood in Christ.

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More About Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Pope Benedict XVI Benedict XVI (Latin: Benedictus XVI; born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on 16 April 1927) is Pope emeritus of the Catholic Church, having served as Pope from 2005 to 2013. In that position, he was both the leader of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State. Benedict was elected on 19 April 2005 in a papal conclave following the death of Pope John Paul II, celebrated his papal inauguration Mass on 24 April 2005, and took possession of his cathedral, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, on 7 May 2005.

Ordained as a priest in 1951 in his native Bavaria, Ratzinger established himself as a highly regarded university theologian by the late 1950s and was appointed a full professor in 1958. After a long career as an academic, serving as a professor of theology at several German universities—the last being the University of Regensburg, where he served as Vice President of the university in 1976 and 1977—he was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising and cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1977, an unusual promotion for someone with little pastoral experience. In 1981, he settled in Rome when he became Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one of the most important dicasteries of the Roman Curia. From 2002 until his election as pope, he was also Dean of the College of Cardinals, and as such, the primus inter pares among the cardinals. Prior to becoming pope, he was "a major figure on the Vatican stage for a quarter of a century" as "one of the most respected, influential and controversial members of the College of Cardinals"; he had an influence "second to none when it came to setting church priorities and directions" as one of John Paul II's closest confidants.

He was originally a liberal theologian, but adopted conservative views after 1968. His prolific writings defend traditional Catholic doctrine and values. During his papacy, Benedict XVI advocated a return to fundamental Christian values to counter the increased secularisation of many Western countries. He views relativism's denial of objective truth, and the denial of moral truths in particular, as the central problem of the 21st century. He taught the importance of both the Catholic Church and an understanding of God's redemptive love. Pope Benedict also revived a number of traditions including elevating the Tridentine Mass to a more prominent position. He renewed the relationship between the Catholic Church and art, viewing the use of beauty as a path to the sacred, promoted the use of Latin, and reintroduced traditional papal garments, for which reason he was called "the pope of aesthetics". He has been described as "the main intellectual force in the Church" since the mid-1980s. Several of Pope Benedict's students from his academic career are also prominent churchmen today and confidantes of him, notably Christoph Schönborn.

On 11 February 2013, Benedict announced his resignation in a speech in Latin before the cardinals, citing a "lack of strength of mind and body" due to his advanced age. His resignation became effective on 28 February 2013. He is the first pope to resign since Pope Gregory XII in 1415, and the first to do so on his own initiative since Pope Celestine V in 1294. As pope emeritus, Benedict retains the style of His Holiness, and the title of Pope, and will continue to dress in the papal colour of white. He was succeeded by Pope Francis on 13 March 2013, and he moved into the newly renovated Mater Ecclesiae monastery for his retirement on 2 May 2013.

Pope Benedict XVI was born in 1927.

Pope Benedict XVI has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Benedict XVI
  2. Bioethics & Culture
  3. Communio Books
  4. Fathers (Our Sunday Visitor)
  5. Publication
  6. Ressourcement: Retrieval & Renewal in Catholic Thought
  7. Spiritual Thoughts

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Is Christian brotherhood exclusive or universal?  May 7, 2007
Although this book was written almost fifty years ago, it still speaks quite forcefully today--perhaps it is even more relevant to our global village with its global conflicts.

Ratzinger begins by examining understandings of brotherhood from Ancient Greece to modern Marxist and Liberal traditions and highlights the tendency towards understanding brotherhood as either something closed in on itself, yet full of meaning and ethical ramifications, or something so open and nebulous that it becomes a synonym for "humanity"--though these impulses have often been held together in a sort of dualism. He then proceeds to argue that the Christian idea of brotherhood, based on God's fatherhood of Jesus Christ, has the potential to be universal while remaining concrete. Using Karl Barth's doctrine of election, Ratzinger argues that Christian brotherhood is not automatically universal, because we are not naturally in Christ and thereby children of God. Christian brotherhood is therefore not simply a synonym for "humanity", but describes the faithful. Yet, as Jesus Christ was elect for the others, Christians have been brought into Jesus Christ, allowed to say "Our Father," for the sake of those still outside him. Thus, though there is a boundary to Christian brotherhood, the Christian ethic knows of no rigid distinction between the "in" and the "out" because service to the other, whether that one is a brother or not, is the Christian ethic.

Those who are not Christians will certainly find much with which to disagree, in particular the assertion that Jesus Christ is the making known of both true God and true humanity, but those who are interested in the meaning of Christian brotherhood, both as an idea and as an ethic, will find much in this little book. Most promising to this reviewer is the way Ratzinger connects baptism and the Eucharist to the meaning of Christian brotherhood. In light of Ratzinger's current office as Bishop of Rome, the "Postscript" on the exact nature of brotherhood between Roman Catholics and Protestants is particularly interesting.

Overall, a good introduction to Ratzinger's theological method (notice the footnotes: classicists, biblical scholars, Church Fathers, theologians both Roman Catholic and Protestant, and liturgical studies) and to the topic of Christian brotherhood.
The Origins of Christian Brotherhood and the need to recover them  Sep 7, 2006
Cardinal Ratzinger (Now Pope Benedict XVI) has a masterful talent for explaining things with thoroughness and clarity. He seems to anticipate any corner of doubt or objection to an argument and to adress it. That is the case in this book. This book is a rather short read, certainly one of his shorter works. In it he addresses the origins of the concept of brotherhood, how it developed in the ancient world, politically and religiously, and he traces it all the way through the beginnings of Christianity to modern times. Having done this, he then speaks to the need for recovering and purifying this notion in modern times.

He addresses the issues of how Christians should act among themselves and in their interactions with others, both clearing up misconceptions and putting forth challenging ideals. Truly a great read!
A Brief, Yet Bold Expounding Upon Christian Brotherhood  Jul 7, 2006
In the midst of hopes of universal brotherhood, Joseph Ratzinger discusses what Christian Brotherhood is and how it is to be understood in the present context. I will not attempt to fully outline his thesis but will only briefly present you with the reasons why I think this text is a most excellent exposition on Christian Brotherhood.

Of all of Ratzinger's texts, I have found this one to be the most accessible. His arguments are presented with lucidity and are not too complex for one who doesn't have much theological experience. This in itself is phenomenal, given the weight which his words nevertheless have.

The ultimate strength of the text is the fact that Ratzinger does not shirk away from the exclusive nature of Christian Brotherhood and its relationship to the full brotherhood which is ultimately dictated by God's existence as Creator of all. He acknowledges that the Christian brotherhood ultimately draws a line which creates a distinction between those who are brothers and those who are not. The truth must be found in this, even though may seem to be closed-minded to some. If he stopped here, the text would have truly been closed-minded, as it wouldn't have given the rest of the story. His final full chapter is on "True Universalism" and how "The separating off of the limited Christian brotherhood is not the creation of some esoteric circle, but is intended to serve the whole." (75)

There is much more to the whole of his reflections. If you desire to know of them, I suggest that you read this text. You will find that you will not be disappointed.
Amazing Overview of Brotherhood  Jul 4, 2005
I cannot expound upon this book any more thoroughly than did the previous reviewer. All I can say is that anyone who seeks to understand the historical, Biblical, patristic, and ultimately Catholic understanding of "brotherhood" and "fellowship in the Lord" needs to read this book. A very quick read, as it is only ninety pages and absolutely riveting (I read it in about an hour and a half). A must-read.
Great Analyses of Christian Brotherhood  Jan 20, 2002
Cardinal Ratzinger amazes me yet again in this well thought out book on the meaning of Christian brotherhood. In this short (90 pages) book Ratzinger sets out to analyze what the word brother means in the Christian view of the world. He starts with an analysis of how the word was used throughout history, from the ancient Greeks to the Jewish community. He then moves to the New Testament and analysis how Jesus uses the word, how it is used by Paul and finally by John. Ratzinger than analyzes how the term was used by the Church fathers, and there unique take on the subject. Throughout this process, Ratzinger gives great biblical insights connecting the Old Testament to the New Testament and informs the reader of the differences between the biblical understanding of brotherhood and our contemporary understanding of it, whether taught by the enlightenment, or Marxist philosophy. He also mentions some external elements that may have dictated certain definitions, when involved with analyzing the historical understanding of brotherhood. Ratzinger also gives a general overview of how unique and contrary to common understanding this teaching was at the time.

Ratzinger than demonstrates how this view is incorporated into Christian theology. He emphasizes the need to first properly understand the fatherhood of God, and how this is necessary to properly understand Christian brotherhood. How it is necessary to see this brotherhood through God's fatherhood and Christ's divine sonship by means of the Eucharist. He also briefly touches upon how vastly different this fatherhood concept in Christianity is from other forms of fatherhood found in other religions.

He then gives the historical barriers that were destroyed because of this newfound understanding. Whether it was to eliminate racial, national or economic boundaries, or to create, for the first time in history, a brotherhood where man and female are equals. He also gives the responsibility the Christian brother has to the non-believer. Cardinal Ratzinger than gives the limits of this unique understanding. This chapter is necessary to set the limits on how far you can take the meaning and to clarify what Ratzinger is not saying.

The final chapter deals with the relationship of this view of Christian brotherhood to the divine mission of Jesus Christ. Throughout this chapter, Ratzinger demonstrates how necessary it is to look at Christian brotherhood through Christ acts of Redemption and salvation history. He then delves into how this reflects on how we should act, as Christian brothers united to Christ. Throughout this process, Ratzinger gives wonderful insights and shows how Christian brotherhood, and only Christian brotherhood, truly gives the most unifying concept of brotherhood.

Ratzinger finishes the book with a short postscript on how Catholics view how Protestants fit into this overall understanding of Christian brotherhood. How, to Catholics, it fits well to call them "separated brethren". Which stresses both points that need to be stressed, when a Catholic addresses a protestant. The first is the need to let the protestant know that he is closer, much closer, to the brotherhood of the Church than the non-believer, but still needs to be reminded of Christ wish that the Church should be one.

One last point that needs to be mentioned, Scott Hahn only writes the foreword for this book. The book was written long before Scott Hahn became Catholic, so Scott Hahn merely praises the book and the author, on how influential they were to his conversion. With this in mind, this is definitely a very thought provoking book that needs to be read by everybody who is interested in the relationship of the Christian to the non-believer and how this is taught through salvation history.


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