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The Church as Hermeneutical Community and the Place of Embodied Faith in Joseph Ratzinger and Lewis S. Mudge


Mary McCaughey

This book adds new impetus to ecumenical theology by focusing on embodied faith or the contextual interpretation of Revelation. It does so through an exploration of the insights of Lewis S. Mudge and Joseph Ratzinger. Mudge advocates catholicity as a hermeneutic which embraces the contextuality of faith in local contexts, including Christian communities and the religious practice of those of other Abrahamic faiths. Through his use of semiotics and social theory, Mudge offers novel ways to interpret faith lived as redemptive existence.
Since for Joseph Ratzinger Revelation can never be fully confined to rational statements, it is nevertheless expressed in living praxis. This relates to his view of wisdom, Tradition, truth and the sensus fidei. Ratzinger focuses on embodied faith in Christian experience, the lives of the saints, New Ecclesial Movements and the plurality of different expressions of faith in synchronic unity.
This study encourages the reader to explore the Church as a sacrament of redemption through contextuality and embodiment. Through the writings of two authors with contrasting and yet complimentary approaches, it highlights the transformative potential of Christianity which can serve as a point of ecumenical learning.
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Chapter Six: Joseph Ratzinger on Embodied Faith

← 272 | 273 → CHAPTER SIX


Our previous chapter has examined Joseph Ratzinger’s understanding of the Church as hermeneutical community based on his ecclesiology and his view of Revelation. We have seen how Ratzinger’s understanding of Revelation also includes acknowledging its reception in history. His view of the Church as a gift from above also recognises the contextuality of faith experience as an “offering” of praise and living expression of the nature of the Church as a communion rooted in the Spirit. The understanding of the reception of Revelation expressed in Christian life is expressed by the idea of “embodied faith.”

In this chapter we examine how Ratzinger’s view of embodied faith in its various dimensions contributes to his interpretation of Revelation. We do this firstly by examining his view of Tradition and a “hermeneutics of continuity.” Secondly, we consider his understanding of embodied faith in its plurality and multiplicity as different levels of identification with the Church and as diverse charisms. Thirdly, we examine in some detail how embodied faith is a living exegesis of the Word. For Ratzinger the meaning of Revelation as it is received relates to his understanding of the connection between faith as orthopraxis and orthodoxy and to his view of the liturgical and Marian dimensions of the Church. Finally we explore in Ratzinger the relationship of embodied faith with doctrines and with cultural contexts for the interpretation of Revelation.

In our introductory chapter we noted that one of the fundamental tasks for the Church today is...

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