Introduction to Christianity

by Benedict XVI

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How does Ratzinger understand Christ in his Introduction to Christianity?

Quick answer:

In his Introduction to Christianity, Ratzinger understands Christ as a reflection of the divine and therefore as the most reliable guide and behavioral pattern for Christians.

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Ratzinger wrote extensively on the figure of Christ, and as one might expect, his Introduction to Christianity offers a summary of his complex thoughts, particularly on the nature of a being who is both human and divine. Christ is presented as the human representation of divinity: God presented to mankind in the easiest way for mankind to understand (though this is still not particularly easy). Because he is human, Christ can only reflect the divine nature of God the Father, but it is also his humanity which allows him to provide people with a pattern for life.

There are many aspects to the understanding of Christ in Ratzinger's text. Apart from being, as noted above, the reflection of God the Father and the example of a sinless life, Christ is also the founder of the church and the way to understand what the church means. The church is a huge organization, with many complex rules and doctrines which require years of study from academics and clergy. An understanding of Christ is the best way for the layperson to appreciate the aims and values of the church without having to spend many years on these details of theology. Ratzinger's theology has often been described as Christocentric; for him, the figure of Christ is the point to which the Christian should always return as a guide for both thought and action.

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