The End of Religion?

Author: Joseph Card. Ratzinger

FEAST OF FAITH Approaches to a Theology of the Liturgy By Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger Translated by Graham Harrison Published by Ignatius Press Part One On the Theological Basis Of Prayer and Liturgy Chapter One The End of Religion? 1. A Contemporary Dispute A few years ago those interested in the debate about Christianity could have followed a characteristically confusing dispute which appeared in the SUEDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG.[1] The Dominican Father Anselm Hertz published an article entitled "Have We Come to the End of All Religion?", in which he presented a totally irresponsible picture of the course of history, albeit one that has gained wide currency. In former times, so he maintained, religion had been the public and private bond linking society and the individual to God or the gods; it was manifest in pious conduct and in cultic behavior. No doubt as a rhetorical ploy, he illustrates his argument (with references to Augustine) by citing the prayer made by both sides in war for victory or preservation. (Thus the reader is encouraged to associate the issue of prayer with that of war.) His supposedly logical conclusion with regard to the phenomenon of war is evidently meant to be of general application: "The metaphysical, transcendental reference of all causes has been dismantled; and if the cause can no longer be interpreted metaphysically, a metaphysical view of the effects becomes superfluous too."[2] This general proposition is then reapplied to the concrete case, yielding the characteristic aside: "Prayer for victory or preservation in battle has become meaningless, even if now and then armies and weapons continue to be blessed."[3] According to Fr. Hertz's scheme of history, private piety was able to keep going for a long time after the demise of public religion. God was no longer responsible "for the events of war as a whole but only for the fate of his faithful ones." It is thus an easy matter to describe this phase of religious history as schizophrenia and go on to make the reader aware that the time for private piety, too, has run out.[4] At this point he goes beyond the topic of war which up to now provided the argument: a God who "was primarily seen as a God of the weather, of protection and blessing" has disappeared, and this means that a God of transcendence, standing over against immanence, belongs "to the magical and mythical substrata of human religiosity" which has been "nowadays largely overcome".[5] Now the new form of religion heaves in sight, the third phase of this view of history, in which modern man is ensconced, finally, above all the errors and false starts of the past: now the criterion of religion is no longer "in what forms man's attachment to God is expressed, but whether man is ready and able to transcend himself".[6] No doubt all men may aspire to this readiness, this capacity, especially as what it implies is left totally vague. However, while the good Dominican was endeavoring to console the reader for the loss of a personal God (albeit by too obvious a sleight-of-hand in the matter of prayer in time of war), the political theorist Lobkowicz was pulling the veil from his somewhat confused arguments. Not mincing matters, he simply asked what this "self-transcendence" meant: "What good is it for Hertz to urge us to transcend ourselves? A propos, it is noticeably those who think they are too superior to talk simply and concretely of God who are in the habit of talking about 'transcendence'. . . . Suppose I had achieved this transcendence and come face to face with the 'ultimate ground of being' which 'is manifest everywhere in the world, wherever man is searching for the abiding meaning of his existence'. What then? Do I respectfully salute this 'ground of being' and simply return to the hardness of my daily life?--or does this encounter become a fundamental experience causing me to see everything differently and revolutionizing my behavior?"[7] With refreshing clarity Lobkowicz has expressed the fact that "every theology which no longer facilitates petitionary prayer, and hence thanksgiving, is a fraud."[8] This drama, in which theology keeps talking although God who can speak and listen has long ago submerged together with the myths, is fascinating in the way it seems to spread, presenting itself quietly, piously, without the least trumpeting of heresy, as the most natural thing in the world. It is impossible to read without deep sadness the "prayer", expressive of this approach, with which G. Hasenhuettl concludes his "Introduction to the Doctrine of God"--a prayer which no longer addresses anyone, desperately trying to convince itself that man still has access to meaning and love and that the experience of this is "God" for man. Let us read a little of it to see what "transcendence" means in this kind of theology--a somber dialogue with the void, trying to keep up its courage and calling itself "prayer": It was easy to pray when in simplicity of heart I could still kneel down and know that there was a God in heaven to see me. I could lay my anxieties and joys before him and know that he heard me, even if I could not always experience that he did. Today I am part of a social order in which the relation of lord to servant has finally been abolished, and this means that I can no longer feel that God is Lord and I am his unworthy servant. It would be meaningless now to fall down in worship with eyes full of tears of joy or sorrow. It is hard now to address God as "Thou", for the only "Thou" I know is the human "Thou", in all its ambivalence. I am a partner to my fellow men in society, but God is not my partner. . . . So I know, here and now, stripped of all illusions, that I am affirmed, that there is meaning in the absurdity of life, a meaning which brings happiness. I am affirmed every time I give love, when I collaborate in the making of the society of the future, for all its provisional character. So, even today, I can cry out like the psalmist thousands of years ago and say: Yes, he is; I am affirmed; God is! And if you want to dispense with the word "God", well and good, but keep its place open, for the reality if signifies will come to you, will force you to decide, and in love it will be revealed to you and you will find yourself crying out: "Yes, do you see? God is when men love one another!" It often happens nowadays that we can no longer call upon God because he is not the powerful Lord; similarly we cannot live in hope of paradisal future since it is only a creation of man's imagination. But we can thank and pray, knowing, in all our brokenness, that today itself gives us hope for the future; we live today believing in new possibilities; today we can love, we will love, for it is only today that we can experience God, it is only today that he is near to us.[9] 2. Where does the Bible stand? We do not know what human experiences, sufferings and crises lie behind words such as these; we must respect them: it is not our business to judge. On the other hand, we are obliged to state firmly that this is not Christian theology. For the prime characteristic of Christian faith is that it is faith in God. Furthermore, that this God is someone who speaks, someone to whom man can speak. The Christian God is characterized by revelation, that is, by the words and deeds in which he addresses man, and the goal of revelation is man's response in word and deed, which thus expands revelation into a dialogue between Creator and creature which guides man toward union with God.[10] So prayer is not something on the periphery of the Christian concept of God; it is a fundamental trait. The whole Bible is dialogue: on the one side, revelation, God's words and deeds, and on the other side, man's response in accepting the word of God and allowing himself to be led by God. To delete prayer and dialogue, genuine two-way dialogue, is to delete the whole Bible. We must insist, however, that the Bible in no way needs to be "rescued" from a mythical world view which supposedly encapsulates it; it does not need to be "helped" on the way towards its fuller development. The reverse is the case: Greek philosophy had come to the conclusion that it was impossible to pray to God, since the Eternal One, by being eternal, cannot enter into time relations. This led to such an utter separation of philosophy and religion, of reason and piety, that it heralded the end of ancient religion. Later indeed it did try to rescue the old religions by acknowledging in them a demythologized meaning, in the way many theologians today try to demythologize dogma and sacrament. We can see in this endeavor the last traces of nostalgia for the lost world of the religions--the attempt to save what has been lost, even if its original meaning can no longer be entertained. This romantic reaction may have been able to slow down the decline of the gods, but it could not stop it. It simply lacked truth. In this process, which involved all the questions raised in the current debate, the Christian faith took up a unique position. With regard to the concept of God, it held to the enlightened view of the philosophers: the gods are illusory; they do not exist. What Christians call "God" is what the philosophers call "being", "ground" or (also) "God". They are not afraid to say that it is this God of the philosophers who is their God too. What is unique about their position is that they attribute to the God of the philosophers the fundamental trait of the gods of the old religions, namely, the relationship with men, albeit now in an absolute form insofar as they call God the Creator. This paradoxical conjunction constitutes the Christian synthesis, its outstanding novelty; it is the source of the basic difficulty and vulnerability of the Christian position in the history of religions: only "The Absolute" can be God, but this very Absolute has the attribute of being "relative", relationship, Creator and Revealer, or as later tradition would put it, "Person", someone who addresses the creature and to whom the creature can turn. This synthesis also distinguishes the Christian faith from the "mythical" religions like those of Asia and connects it with Judaism and Islam, although Christianity exhibits a unique and distinct form in its belief in the Trinity. Ultimately all questions come back to the enormous tension created by THIS synthesis; the modern situation has not really introduced anything radically new. In the end, of course, whether this synthesis can be affirmed depends, not on philosophical considerations, but on whether one has been given the degree of spiritual tension which corresponds to the tensions of the Christian idea of God.[11] 3. Arguments against prayer Consequently, in our efforts to work out the theological and anthropological basis of prayer, it is not a question of proving the validity of Christian prayer by the standards of some neutral reasonableness. It is a case of uncovering the inner logic of faith itself, with its own distinct reasonableness. Our first step, however, must be to ask briefly what are the substantial reasons which seem to militate against prayer's reasonableness. I observe three kinds, occurring naturally in countless variations and combinations. a. Firstly there is the general rejection of a metaphysical way of approach, corresponding to the main thrust of contemporary thought. Karl Jaspers has clothed this rejection in a religious form in his philosophy; his explicit aim is to continue religion without metaphysics, or rather to see the farewell to metaphysics as a better way of legitimizing faith and spirituality. From what we have said so far it should be clear that the results of this approach are in fact very different from what is envisaged by the Bible and the faith of the Church. For Christian faith it is essential that it is addressing the God who really exists, the Creator of all things and the ground of all being, and that this God has spoken to us. To reject metaphysics is to reject creation and hence the Christian concept of God itself. Conversely, now as always, it is the belief in creation which is the strongest rational foundation for the Christian idea of God and its metaphysical implications, as is very clear from J. Monod's consistent line of thought.[12] b. Even if metaphysical questions are not rejected in principle, there is a second objection to a God of revelation. This was already formulated in the philosophy of the ancients, but it has acquired far greater force in the modern scientific and technological world. It can be put like this: a rationally constructed world is determined by rationally perceived causality. To such a scheme the notion of personal intervention is both mythical and repugnant. But if this approach is adopted, it must be followed consistently, for what applies to God applies equally to man. If there is only ONE kind of causality, man too as a person is excluded and reduced to an element in mechanical causality, in the realm of necessity; freedom too, in this case, is a mythical idea. In this sense it can be said that the personalities of God and of man cannot be separated. If personality is not a possibility, i.e., not present, with the "ground" of reality, it is not possible at all. Either freedom is a possibility inherent in the ground of reality, or it does not exist. Thus the issue of prayer is intimately linked with those of freedom and personality: the question of prayer decides whether the world is to be conceived as pure "chance and necessity" or whether freedom and love are constitutive elements of it. c. Finally, there is a real theological objection to a God who operates "ad extra" in creation and revelation. Aristotle was the first to put it in its most pointed form; it has always been behind the scenes in Christian theology, and to this day it has probably not been fully dealt with. According to this objection, eternity by its very nature cannot enter into relationship with time, and similarly time cannot affect eternity. Eternity implies immutability, the concentrated fullness of being, removed from the vicissitudes of time. Time is essentially changeable and changing. If it were to initiate anything new in eternity, eternity would have become time. And if eternity were to get involved with the changing stream of time, it would forfeit its nature as eternity. Here we cannot go into the question of whether the concept of eternity employed in these undoubtedly logical trains of thought is adequate. So far, the debate on that particular issue has not come up with any convincing results; it needs to be continued. It will be essential to probe more deeply into the concept of "relation" if progress is to be made at this point; furthermore, instead of the negative "timelessness" of eternity, we need to work out a concept of the creativity which eternity exercises with regard to time.[13] There is a further aspect, which brings us directly to the Christian answer. I would like to put forward this thesis: a non-trinitarian monotheism can hardly meet Aristotle's objection. In the end it will simply have to leave eternity and time as isolated opposites. But if they cannot communicate with one another, that is, if there cannot be a reciprocal influence between time and eternity, then eternity (if there is an eternity) can be of no significance to men. For it has no power in the world, no influence on human life. It is this feeling which caused the monotheism underlying ancient religion to die out in favor of the idea of the "Deus otiosus". There is such a God, people thought, but he is separated from man by an unbridgeable chasm. Since has has no power with regard to man, he cannot matter to him either. This feeling is fundamental to the separation of philosophy and religion which we observed in ancient times. Thus in a rational world, where faith is reduced to rational monotheism, the notion of God simply fades away: it becomes irrelevant. The Enlightenment dissolved the Christian mystery and left it with an ephemeral monotheism. Deism is not a new creation of the Enlightenment: it is merely the return of the "Deus Otiosus" of the mythical religions. It either invokes the old gods or heralds the total rejection of the notion of God, or at least the rejection of a praying religion, and the transition to a religiously tinged "self-transcendence". This, it seems to me, is the deepest cause of the crisis in theology which we have observed in men like Hertz and Hasenhuettl. Initially what happens is that people become uncertain about the christological and trinitarian mystery; its relationship to exegesis is felt to be problematical; it is regarded as a Hellenistic scheme projected into the universe of linear time, a necessary element of its age but now no longer intelligible. But the retreat to a rationally presentable monotheism is always merely the first step. Next comes the abandonment of the relational categories of creation and revelation. Thus this God himself fades into the concept of "transcendence". The possibility of prayer being "heard" dwindles, and faith becomes "self-transcendence". 4. Life with a religious flavor but without a God who hears Before turning to the positive side we must investigate a little more closely what kind of religion is still possible under the presupposition of a God who cannot "relate". In accord with those who follow Jaspers, we have termed such a possibility the religion of "self-transcendence". History, however, allows us to be more precise. In fact we can speak of two major basic possibilities. a. Aristotle ascribes significance to the prayer which fails to reach God in that it "fosters what is best in us".[14] At bottom this is identical with what modern theologians mean by "self-transcendence". Karl Barth would see it as that "religion" which is the very opposite of faith. It is strange indeed: whereas two decades ago, in the enthusiasm for Bonhoeffer, people pleaded for a religionless faith, now everything is reversed: everything now tends toward the preservation of religion and a religious flavor to life, even though its original content, faith, is represented as untenable. This pseudo-religiosity cannot be expected to last, however, all the more since its content is too unstable, following every wind of change because it is not oriented to truth, being merely a matter of "relation", addressing a something which does not reciprocate that relation. It is trying to be a "relatio pura" which no longer contains anything that can be objectified.[15] But in reality this "pure relation" is spurious: relation without reciprocity has no meaning. b. By contrast, the path of the Asiatic religions seems logically consistent and religiously profound: they start from the ultimate identity of the "I", which is in reality not an "I", with the divine ground of the world. Here prayer is the discovery of this identity, in which, behind the surface illusion, I find my own, serene identity with the ground of all being and thus am liberated from the false identity of the individualized "I". Prayer is letting myself be absorbed into what I really am; it is the gradual disappearance of what, to the separate "I", seems to be the real world. It is liberation in that one bids farewell to the empirical, experienced world with its chaos of illusion and enters the pure nothingness which is truly divine. There can be no doubt that this is a path of impressive proportions; moreover, it appeals strongly to man's painful experience, which causes him to wish to abandon what seems to be the illusory surface of being. Only a radical abandonment of being, in favor of nothingness, seems to offer hope of real freedom. It is no accident, therefore, that the way of Asia presents itself as the way of salvation wherever the content of faith is relegated to the level of an untenable piece of Western metaphysics or mythology yet where there is still a deep spiritual and religious will. I believe that as far as religion is concerned, the present age will have to decide ultimately between the Asiatic religious world view and the Christian faith. I have no doubt that both sides have a great deal to learn from each other. The issue may be which of the two can rescue more of the other's authentic content. But in spite of this possibility of mutual exchange, no one will dispute the fact that the two ways are different. In a nutshell one could say that the goal of Asiatic contemplation is the escape from personality, whereas biblical prayer is essentially a relation between persons and hence ultimately the affirmation of the person. II. The Structure and Content of Christian Prayer In Part Two our task is to develop the positive basis of Christian prayer. As we have already said, it is not enough to approach it with external proofs; we must attempt, at least in outline, to reveal its intrinsic logic.[16] 1. The formal structure of Christian prayer a. The basic reason why man can speak with God arises from the fact that God himself is speech, word. His nature is to speak, to hear, to reply, as we see particularly in Johannine theology, where Son and Spirit are described in terms of pure "hearing"; they speak in response to what they have first heard. Only because there is already speech, "Logos", in God can there be speech, "Logis", to God. Philosophically we could put it like this: the Logos in God is the onto-logical foundation for prayer. The Prologue of John's Gospel speaks of this connection in its very first sentences: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was in communication with God" (1:1)--as a more precise translation of the Greek "pros" suggests, rather than the usual "with God". It expresses the act of turning to God, of relationship. Since there is relationship within God himself, there can also be a participation in this relationship. Thus we can relate to God in a way which does not contradict his nature. b. In God, we have said, there is speech and the intercourse of partners in dialogue. Man could speak with God if he himself were drawn to share in this internal speech. And this is what the Incarnation of the Logos means: he who is speech, Logos, in God and to God, participates in human speech. This has a reciprocal effect, involving man in God's own internal speech. Or we could say that man is able to participate in the dialogue within God himself because God has first shared in human speech and has thus brought the two into communication with one another. The Incarnation of the Logos brings eternity into time and time into eternity. It is not that God IS time, but that he HAS time.[17] As a result of the Incarnation, human speech has become a component in divine speech; it has been taken up, unconfusedly and inseparably, into that speech which is God's inner nature. c. Through the Spirit of Christ, who is the Spirit of God, we can share in the human nature of Jesus Christ; and in sharing in his dialogue with God, we can share in the dialogue which God IS. This is prayer, which becomes a real exchange between God and man. d. The locus of this identification with Christ, facilitated by the Spirit, which necessarily implies that those involved are also identified with one another in Christ, is what we call "Church". We could in fact define "Church" as the realm of man's discovery of his identity through the identification with Christ which is its source. 2. The content of Christian prayer A fundamental word in the mouth of "the Son" is "Abba". It is no accident that we find this word characterizing the figure of Jesus in the New Testament. It expresses his whole being, and all that he says to God in prayer is ultimately only an explication of his being (and hence an explication of this one word); the Our Father is this same "Abba" transposed into the plural for the benefit of those who are his. Let us try to ascertain the content, the inner intentionality, of this basic act of prayer (which is the Son's act of being, as Son, and which thus is rooted in the ultimate ontological depths of reality). First we can say that it is an act of consent. Its basic tenor is affirmatory. Essentially it means this: I can affirm the world, being, myself, because I can affirm the ground of my being, for this ground is good. It is good to BE. Josef Pieper has interpreted the nature of the "feast", the festival (in general terms) as affirmation of the world:[18] whenever I am able to say Yes, I can celebrate a feast; whenever I am able to say Yes, I am (to that extent) free, liberated. Christian prayer holds the key to making the whole world a celebration, a feast, namely, affirmation. Asiatic contemplation is not affirmation but liberation through the renunciation of being. The marxist approach, too, is not affirmation but outrage, opposition to being because it is bad and so must be changed. Prayer is an act of being; it is affirmation, albeit not affirmation of myself as I am and of the world as it is, but affirmation of the ground of being and hence a purifying of myself and of the world from this ground upward. All purification (every "via negationis") is only possible on the rocklike basis of affirmation, of consent: Jesus Christ is Yes (cf. 2 Cor 1:19f). Conversely, in the purification which issues from this fundamental Yes we discover the active power of prayer, which (a) yields a deep security in the affirmation of being, as a foil to the hectic world of self-made man, yet which (b) is by no means a flight from the world but rather entrusts people with the task of purifying the world and empowers them to carry it out. The next step is this: we can only say Abba together with Christ; only in fellowship with him can we recognize the world's ground in a way which invites our Yes. Apart from the Son, the Father remains ambivalent and strange; it is Jesus who turns the scales of the Old Testament and makes its message clear. "Patrocentrism", i.e., the Abba, presupposes the christological character of prayer.[19] It is the Son who guides us along the path of purification which leads to the door of the Yes. So Christian prayer depends on our continually looking to Christ, talking with him, being silent with him, listening to him, doing and suffering with him. Let us go a step further. We cannot reach Christ through historical reconstruction. It may be helpful, but it is not sufficient and, on its own, becomes mere necrophilia. We encounter him as a living Person only in the foretaste of his presence which is called "Church". At this point we begin to see how it may be possible to purify and accept the inheritance of Asia. The latter is correct in refusing to see individual identity as an encapsulated "I" over against a similarly encapsulated "Thou" of God, ignoring the existence of other "I"s which are themselves related individually and separately to this divine Thou. Here we see the limitation of the kind of personalism which was developed between the Wars by Ebner, Buber, Rosenzweig, E. Brunner, Steinbuechel and others. Here God is portrayed in a way which conflicts with his nature as the ground of all being. Partnership between God and man is conceived in I-Thou terms in a way which deprives God of his infinity and excludes each individual "I" from the unity of being. By comparison with God, man's identity is not simply in himself but outside himself, which is why he can only attain it by "transcendence". The Christian believer discovers his true identity in him who, as "the firstborn of all creation", holds all things together (Col 1:15ff.), with the result that we can say that our life is hidden with him in God (Col 3:3).[20] Through identification with Christ I discover my own entirely personal identity. The Church as a whole presents the model of this kind of "identity". The Church is so identified with Christ that she can be called his "body". But this bodily unity is to be understood against the biblical concept of man and wife: they are to become two in one flesh (Gen 2:24; Eph 5:30f.; cf. 1 Cor 6:16f.). It is a unity through the unifying power of love, which does not destroy the two-ness of I and Thou but welds it into a profound oneness. In finding my own identity by being identified with Christ, I am made one with him; my true self is restored to me, I know that I am accepted, and this enables me to give myself back to him. On this basis the theology of the Middle Ages proposed that the aim of prayer (and the movement of being in which it consists) was that, through it, man should become an "anima ecclesiastica"--a personal embodiment of the Church. This is both identity and purification, it is a surrendering of oneself and a being drawn into the innermost nature of what we mean by "Church". In this process the language of our Mother becomes ours; we learn to speak it along with her, so that, gradually, her words on our lips become our words. We are given an anticipatory share in the Church's perennial dialogue of love with him who desired to be one flesh with her, and this gift is transformed into the gift of speech. And it is in the gift of speech, and not until then, that I am really restored to my true self; only thus am I given back to God, handed over by him to all my fellow men; only thus am I free. At this point everything becomes very practical: How can I learn to pray? By praying in fellowship. Prayer is always a praying WITH someone. No one can pray to God an an isolated individual and in his own strength. Isolation and the loss of a basic sense of fellowship in prayer constitute a major reason for the lack of prayer. I learn to pray by praying with others, with my mother for instance, by following her words, which are gradually filled out with meaning for me as I speak, live and suffer in fellowship with her. Naturally I must be always asking what these words mean. Naturally, too, I must continually "cash" these words into the small change of daily life. And having done so, I must try to repossess them in exchange for my small coin, little by little, as I draw nearer the fullness of the mystery and become more capable of speaking of it. And that is precisely why it is impossible to start a conversation with Christ alone, cutting out the Church: a christological form of prayer which excludes the Church also excludes the Spirit and the human being himself. I need to feel my way into these words in everything I do, in prayer, life, suffering, in my thoughts. And this very process transforms me. But I must not try to dispense with the example of the words, for they are alive, a growing organism, words which are lived and prayed by countless people. Of course, this applies to all the various modes of prayer: repetition, silence, speech, singing and so on. All the dimensions of the human psyche are involved; we must never make the rational understanding the only criterion. How could reason grow and develop if it regarded its own premature limitations as normative![21] 3. Answers to prayer Christian prayer is addressed to a God who hears and answers. But in what way? What can the witness of the New Testament and the tradition of faith tell us? a. First let us examine what is meant to answers to prayer.[22] Luke transmits one of the Lord's words which puts it very precisely: "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?" (Lk 11:13) What we are to ask of God is the gift of the pneuma, his Spirit. God gives himself. We are to ask no less than this. We find the same thing put in different terms in Jesus' farewell discourses in John. Here the gift of God promised unconditionally to those who ask is joy, that "full" joy which is the expression and the presence of a love which has become "full" (Jn 16:24). The reality is the same in each case. Prayer, because of the transformation of being which it involves, means growing more and more into identity with the pneuma of Jesus, the Spirit of God (becoming an "anima ecclesiastica"); borne along by the very breath of his love, we have a joy which cannot be taken from us. b. But how are we to conceive of God answering prayer? Put in the briefest possible form, we can say something like this: in Jesus, god participates in time. Through this participation he operates in time in the form of love. His love purifies men; through purification (and not otherwise) men are identified and united with him. Or we could say this: as a result of God's participation in time in Jesus, love becomes the causality operating in the world to transform it; in any place, at any time, it can exercise its influence. As a cause, love does not vitiate the world's mechanical causality but uses and adopts it. Love is the power which God exercises in the world. To pray is to put oneself on the side of this love-causality, this causality of freedom, in opposition to the power of necessity. As Christians, as those who pray, this is our very highest task.

Footnotes to Chapter 1 [1] Published as N. Lobkowicz and A. Hertz, AM ENDE ALLER RELIGION? EIN STREITGESPRAECH (Zurich 1976). [2] Ibid., 21. [3] Ibid. [4] Ibid. [5] Ibid., 26. [6] Ibid., 27. Characteristic is the following: "Not only has God many names; there is also a wealth of possibilities of communication with him. Perhaps this is something we have yet to learn if we are to realize that, in spite of the decline of the traditional religions, we are nearer to God than we think." [7] Ibid., 34. [8] Ibid., 17. It must be mentioned here that, at the conclusion of the debate, Hertz seems to make large concessions to Lobkowicz, most noticeably when he says: "I do believe that this God whom Jesus proclaimed, who bears good will to all men, can be our partner in prayer when we speak to him of our joys, sorrows and anxieties. This is no mythical God but the God who reveals himself in Jesus Christ. . . ." However, this does not square with the overall impression he gives, where the received Christian faith is completely absorbed into the general history of religion, causing Lobkowicz rightly to comment on Hertz's initial explanations: "In the same breath you speak of the Christian faith in God, the Greek oracles and the Etruscan divination practice of inspecting entrails" (61). Even in the conciliatory conclusion, however, the personal God disappears into the mist--and throughout the discussion he had never achieved the status of a God who acts--when Hertz says: "Is it not enough to believe that in and through Jesus Christ the 'Kingdom of God' has come to us and that we men are called to collaborate in bringing about this kingdom of peace and love? God wills the salvation of all men, and in his kindness he will bring to a happy conclusion the good he has begun in us" (84). In plain language this means that it is up to us to work for a better future; God is allotted a modest place in it insofar as he will eventually take a hand too. [9] G. Hasenhuettl, EINFUEHRUNG IN DIE GOTTESLEHRE (Darmstadt 1980), 242f. For a systematic presentation of the underlying rationale, cf. G. Hasenhuettl, KRITISCHE DOGMATIK (Graz 1979). A central axiom of the GOTTESLEHRE: "God is a predicate of man, says something about man in the area of relational communication" (132). For a detailed analysis of Hasenhuettl's position, cf. F. Courth, "Nur ein anderer Weg der Dogmatik? Zu G. Hasenhuettls kritischer Dogmatik" in TThZ 89 (1980): 293-317. Cf. also the reviews of P. Huenermann, in Theol. Revue 76 (1980): 212-25 (with a response from Hasenhuettl, 409f.); W. Beinert in Theol. prakt. Quartalschr. 128 (1980): 304; W. Loeser, in Theol. Phil. 55 (1980): 616f. [10] Thus it is one of Hertz's false alternatives (op. cit. 26f.) when he gives the impression that one must either maintain an unbridgeable gulf between transcendence and immanence or consign both of them to a philosophy of "transcendence". In fact, as we can see clearly in the case of Jaspers, "transcendence" thus becomes totally inaccessible, whereas an understanding of God which includes creation and revelation involves the reciprocal relationship and union of "immanence" and "transcendence". [11] In connection with these remarks on the ancient world's notion of God, cf. my own VOLK UND HAUS GOTTES IN AUGUSTINS LEHRE VON DER KIRCHE (Munich 1954); also in brief my INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIANITY (London 1969, New York 1979), 94-104. [12] J. Monod, ZUFALL UND NOTWENDIGKEIT. PHILOSOPHISCHE FRAGEN DER MODERNEN BIOLOGIE (Munich 1971). In its consistent thought this book seems to me to be one of the most important works contributing to a deeper dialogue between science and theology. It carefully presents the current state of scientific knowledge and conscientiously uncovers the philosophical presuppositions and, in doing so, gets beyond the usual blurring of issues. Cf. the foolish and wrongheaded approach of A. Dumas and O. H. Pesch on "creation", in J. Feiner and L. Vischer, NEUES GLAUBENSBUCH (Freiburg 1973), 430-39. Here they say that "concepts like selection and mutation are intellectually more honest than that of creation" (433). "Creation is thus an unreal concept" (435). "Creation refers to man's vocation" (435). Corresponding to this reinterpretation of the concept of creation, the teaching on faith lacks any element of belief in creation; the pages referred to come from the chapter on "History and Cosmos", included in the area of ethics (part 4, Faith and the World). From a historical point of view this deletion of faith in creation is gnostic, strictly speaking; cf. J. Ratzinger, KONSEQUENZEN DES SCHOEPFUNGSGLAUBENS (Salzburg 1980). Cf. also the thorough treatment of the doctrine of creation in J. Auer, DIE WELT--GOTTES SCHOEPFUNG (Regensburg 1975). [13] For a presentation of the problem (albeit not very convincing when it comes to a solution), cf. M. Maas, UNVERAENDERLICHKEIT GOTTES (Paderborn 1974). There are important clues toward a new approach in H. U. von Balthasar, THEOLOGIE DER GESCHICHE (new ed. Einsiedeln 1959); id., DAS GANZE IM FRAGMENT (Einsiedeln 1963); valuable remarks on a correct understanding of eternity in E. Brunner, DOGMATIK I (Zurich 1953), 282-88. Cf. the book referred to in note 16 below. [14] Cf. the section in this book "On the Theological Basis of Church Music", note 29. [15] As Hasenhuettl expressly says; cf. the passages mentioned by Courth, op. cit. (note 9 above), 299f. [16] In a publication of this kind I need not given an exhaustive list of available literature on the philosophy and theology of prayer. As an example there is the penetrating book by H. Schaller, DAS BITTGEBET. EINE THEOLOGISCHE SKIZZE (Einsiedeln 1979). [17] Cf. H. U. von Balthasar, THEOLOGIE DER GESCHICHTE, 31-39. [18] J. Pieper, ZUSTIMMUNG ZUR WELT. EINE THEORIE DES FESTES (Munich 1963). [19] Thus we can oppose Harnack's well-known verdict in DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS that "the Father alone, not the Son, belongs to the gospel which Jesus preached". Harnack is blind to the indirect Christology of Jesus' words, deeds and prayers. [20] Cf. on identity and identification, J. Ratzinger and K. Lehmann, MIT DER KIRCHE LEBEN (Freiburg 1977). [21] Cf. the sections "On the Theological Basis of Church Music" and "One the Structure of the Liturgical Celebration" in this volume. [22] Cf. J. Ratzinger, DOGMA UND VERKUENDIGUNG (Munich 1973), 119-32; H. Schaller, op. cit. (note 16 above), 167-90. 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