The Regensburg Lectureby James V. Schall, SJ
St. Augustines Press (April 2007)
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.