I’ve been looking at Joseph Ratzinger’s 1990 work “Called to Communion,” a work whose title, at least, has become a kind of rallying cry for a self-annointed group of supposedly (and formerly) “Reformed” believers who became Catholic. In this work, Ratzinger, a Cardinal and head of the “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” at the time, outlines what he believes to be “a sort of primer of Catholic ecclesiology” (9). Since frequently issues come down to “how we define ‘Church’,” I thought it would be useful to provide a closer look at how that works from the Catholic side.
In the process, I’d like to encourage my readers to take a look at this work. It’s available at Google Books, here.
Ratzinger begins the book by providing what he calls his “preliminary considerations on method,” in which he suggests “a way through the primeval forest of exegetical hypotheses (14) by simply brushing it aside in favor of something he calls “the base memory of the church”(20), which, without any real explanation, he makes his “controlling hermeneutic” in remaining “as close as possible to the biblical text without disregarding whatever real addition to knowledge the endeavor of the present can have in store for us.”
I’ve already looked at one example of how this works.
Over the next few weeks, I’d like to continue now, to look closely at the remainder of the first chapter. Here’s an overview/outline of the rest of that first chapter:
- Preliminary Considerations on method
- The witness of the New Testament regarding the origin and essence of the Church
- Jesus and the Church
- The Church’s self-description as “ekklesia”
- The Pauline doctrine of the Church as the Body of Christ
- The vision of the Church in the Acts of the Apostles
After the look at Acts, he closes with some insinuations that the early Church was already tending in the direction of being both “Roman” and “Catholic.” Lord willing, I’ll address each of these in turn, and provide a more systematic look than I have done so far.