Theology of Pope Benedict XVI

The theology of Pope Benedict XVI, due to the short pontificate so far, consists mainly of three encyclical letters on love (2005), hope (2007), and "charity in truth" (2009), as well as apostolic documents and various speeches and interviews. As Pope, Benedict XVI has wider responsibilities than previously. Therefore, it remains to be seen how the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI will develop theologically.

The theology of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger underwent developments over the years, many of which were characterized by his leadership position in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is entrusted with preserving the Catholic faith in its entirety. His theology originated in the view that God speaks to us through the Church today and not just through the Bible. The Bible is not a natural science textbook, but rather it is the essential testimonial of God’s revelation. One cannot get from it a scientific explanation of how the world arose; one can only glean religious experience from it. Thus Scripture would not wish to inform us about how the different species of plant life gradually appeared or how the sun and the moon and the stars were established. Its purpose ultimately would be to say one thing: God created the world.

The world is not a chaos of mutually opposed forces; nor is it the dwelling of demonic powers from which human beings must protect themselves. Rather, all of this comes from one power, from God's eternal Reason, which became—in the Word—the power of creation. All of this comes from the same Word of God that we meet in the act of faith. The Bible was written to help us understand God's eternal Reason. The Holy Scripture in its entirety was not written from beginning to end like a novel or a textbook. It is, rather, the echo of God's history with his people. The theme of creation is not set down once for all in one place; rather, it accompanies Israel throughout its history, and, indeed, the whole Old Testament is a journeying with the Word of God. In this respect, the Old and New Testament belong together. Thus every individual part derives its meaning from the whole, and the whole derives its meaning from Christ. The Bible is constantly readapting its images to a continually developing way of thinking. In this way, a gradual and interactive process reveals something deeper and greater. We Christians do not read the Old Testament for its own sake but always with Christ and through Christ.

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