The Regensburg Lecture

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180 pages, 5½" x 8½", introduction, notes, appendixes, bibliography, index

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The Regensburg Lecture

Schall, James V.

Overshadowed by the violent reaction and rioting throughout the world, the September 12, 2006, lecture by Pope Benedict XVI at Regensburg, Germany, at the university where he once taught, is a multifaceted and brilliant speech that addresses the very nature of man’s understanding of a free conscience, his thirst for knowledge in both reason and revelation, his understanding of the limitations of the will, and the nature of his ability to understand his neighbor. It explains the Church’s historical claims that Christ himself is Logos (as the opening of John’s Gospel proclaims), a term meaning “word,” “logic,” and “speech.” One’s faith is to be grounded in a self-limiting God, Who does not capriciously change the rules on humans but Who reveals himself to our reason as well as our hearts. A God Who respects His own creation enough to give man free will, and thus a free conscience and an ability to fail; Who leads man, through both reason and revelation, to Himself, always in peace and never in violence; Who is a God of Life, not Death.

The lecture is a mere eight single-spaced pages of text, but it encapsulates not only theoretical history of the Church, but touches on the most poignant current problems the world witnesses, namely, the rise of terrorism and the confrontation between reason and will, between the Word and the Sword. Though incredibly timely, it is as timeless as the Gettysburg Address, Pericles’ Funeral Oration, Plato’s Apology, and Henry V’s Speech on St. Crispin’s Day. No doubt it will be studied and read for generations to come, not only by Catholics, not only by Christians, but by men of good will the world over.

So it is fitting that our world’s modern G.K. Chesterton – James Schall – has chosen to explicate this most-important work by the world’s premier theologian on the thorniest, most divisive questions of our day. Jim Schall, throughout the hundreds upon hundreds of books, articles, and reviews he has written, has always, like Chesterton, maintained a graceful and accessible touch, a clear and memorable style, that makes light work from heavy sources. He is the perfect person to explain both the central concepts and the importance of this amazing speech.

James V. Schall, S.J., is Professor of Government at Georgetown University. In addition to his many books and articles, he writes two columns, “Sense and Nonsense,” in Crisis magazine and “Schall on Chesterton,” in Gilbert Magazine.

Early critical response to The Regensburg Lecture

“Benedict XVI's Regensburg Lecture was the most important papal statement on world affairs since John Paul II's 1995 address to the United Nations. Like his great predecessor, Pope Benedict both identified the great public questions of our time and set any future global dialogue on those questions on a solid foundation. Few people understand all of this better than Father James Schall, S.J. I'd say he was a national resource, but he's actually a global resource.” – George Weigel, Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center, and author of Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II, among many other books.

“What was obscured by all the controversy over Pope Benedict's lecture at Regensburg was the important argument about the interdependency of faith and reason that was the substance of the lecture. This is an argument that Catholics and other Christians, Muslims, and men and women of goodwill of every faith and of no faith need to hear and thoughtfully consider. Fr. James Schall provides a great service in bringing the Pope's argument into the foreground and providing a characteristically illuminating commentary on it." -- Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton

“Pope Benedict XVI, in his Regensburg lecture, identified an issue that is at the core both of the cultural crisis in the West and the conflict between the West and militant Islam. In this book, Fr. Schall presents a brilliant and profound commentary on the Pope’s message, showing how it applies to particular controversies, such as the nature of education and the relationship between religion and reason. The book is the work of a master teacher, skilled in philosophy, theology, and political theory.” – Robert Sokolowski, Professor of Philosophy, Catholic University

“Father Schall is one of those utterly few authors who you know are totally trustable. To read him is to stroll through deep woods with many tall trees. You always emerge changed, deepened. This little book is a wise and thoughtful thinking-through of the issues of one of the great speeches of our time. Fr. Schall puts it, and its issues, into large philosophical contexts, in a conversational rather than academic way.” – Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy of Boston College, and the well-known author of over forty books

“Schall on Benedict on Faith and Reason. What more can you ask for? This little book not only clarifies what the pope meant to say about Islam and the West at Regensburg, it offers enlightenment about our deepest need at the moment – true wisdom.” – Robert Royal, President, Faith & Reason Institute

“The most distinguished university department of rhetoric in Germany, at Tübingen University, has just given its "Address of the Year" in the German language award to Pope Benedict XVI's Regensburg lecture. If you yourself would like to have a well-printed version of this lecture at hand, along with an unusually astute and thorough commentary by one of our best theological and political thinkers, James Schall, S.J., you will not do better than this book.” – Michael Novak, Jewett Chair of Philosophy, Religion, and Public Policy, American Enterprise Institute

“Pope Benedict XVI created quite a stir in his widely reported Regensburg lecture by throwing down the gauntlet to Islam to answer whether Islamic theology itself, with its predominant view of a nonrational God, does not thereby ground irrational, even violent, attempts by Muslims to bring non-Muslims under Islamic rule. In his brilliant commentary on this great lecture, Father James Schall draws out its deeper implications, both for the question of Muslim relations with non-Muslims and for the wider question of the role of reason in the human relationship with the God of Abraham, whom Muslims, Christians, and Jews claim to worship.” – David Novak, J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff professor of Jewish Studies, University of Toronto