By Miroslav Volf
In After Our Likeness, Miroslav Volf explores the connection among people and group in Christian theology. He seeks to counter the developments towards individualism in Protestant ecclesiology and provides neighborhood its due.
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1. The relation of the word of God and communion is directly connected with the understanding of faith as a fruit of the word of God. As we have already seen, faith is for Ratzinger essentially a gift of the church. Yet if the faith of a person is a gift of the church, then the content of faith must also be a gift of the church. The cognitive content of the Christian faith is constitutive for that faith, so that without this content, it is utterly incapable of transmission. From the character of faith as a gift, it follows that if one believes correctly, then in decisive matters one can basically only believe that which the church itself believes.
Closer examination, however, reveals that the occurrence of this basic structure is the maximal form of ecclesial communion rather than its indispensable condition. Ratzinger resolutely maintains the first member of this basic structure; only that which comes from others, and that means from the whole, can be communal. " If this is the case, then the ecclesial communion, although indeed oriented toward love, is not constituted by love, at least not by the love exhibiting the basic structure derived from the Trinity.
110. Ratzinger, Prinzipienlehre, 90. 111. , 91. 112. , 92. 113. Ratzinger has a tendency to search for something more profound or real behind the historical, and to view concrete reality merely as a sign for spiritual, transcendent content. Hence the earthly Jesus is portrayed less as a concrete human being than as "merely an exemplum of human beings" (so Kasper, "Einfuhrung," 186; similarly also Krieg, "Ratzinger," 119). This is a result of Ratzinger's Platonizing "commitment to the primacy of the invisible as that which is genuinely real" (Ratzinger, Einfuhrung, 48).