Baptism in the Tradition of Augustine? The Theology of Joseph Ratzinger with Respect to Baptism

Matthijs van Ittersum

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    Baptism is one of the great sacraments of the Church. Even though much has been said and written about Baptism, it remains somewhat of a mystery. Questions about its administration and effects continue to create discussions among theologians. What is the nature of Baptism? Should children be baptized? What does Baptism’s water effect? Forgiveness of sins? Removal of original sin? Rebirth? Incorporation into the Church? Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI (1927-), has often expressed that he considers himself a disciple of one of the great theologians of the Church, Saint Augustine (354-430). Due to various controversies, Augustine left the Church extensive writings on the sacrament of Baptism. This study shows to what extent Ratzinger’s views concerning the sacrament of Baptism are similar to those of Saint Augustine. The first part sketches the development of Ratzinger’s theology of Baptism. The second part charts the theology of Baptism as presented by Augustine. The study concludes with a comparison, which shows that Ratzinger’s view on the effects of Baptism may be considered more social while Augustine’s perspective is more personal. For Ratzinger, Baptism effects the incorporation into the Church, the new humanity; for Augustine, the sacrament primarily works the cleansing from sins.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Tilburg University
    • van Geest, Paul, Promotor
    • Goudriaan, Aza, Co-promotor, External person
    Award date21 Nov 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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