VATICAN CITY, NOV. 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of excerpts from the Preface of the first volume of the book "Jesus of Nazareth," which Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI will publish next spring. The excerpts were made available by Rizzoli, the publishing house that has been given the international rights.
In the Preface to the first volume of his book "Jesus of Nazareth", Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI, captures in a few carefully-chosen words just why the Christian churches have been steeped in idolatry since the time of the Graeco-Roman church fathers.
"Approximately twenty years after Jesus' death, we find fully displayed in the great hymn to Christ that is the Letter to the Philippians (2:6-8) a Christology which says that Jesus was equal to God but that he stripped himself, became man, humbled himself unto death on the cross and that to him is owed the homage of creation, the adoration that in the prophet Isaiah (45:23) God proclaimed is owed only to Him."
Certain arguments that Paul addressed to the Phillippians in the second letter were a warning to guard against self-righteousness and works glorifying themselves. In these arguments 'proof' is found for the false doctrine of pre-existence and for the high Christology of Joseph Ratzinger. Shorn of Paul's qualifying statements, verses 5-8 appear to support the accepted teaching.
Paul leaves no doubt, however, as to when Jesus existed in the 'form of God' for he continues in verse 9:
"Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name..."
It was after Jesus became "obedient unto death, yes, the death of the cross". Jesus existed in the 'form of God' after the crucifixion. It was as a man that Jesus emptied himself and took on the form of a servant. (See also John 5:26-27, Ps.71:16-17)
It is a pity that the point of Paul's utterance - the warning against self-righteousness - has become the servant of an ecclesiastical doctrine.
Until the Christian churches recognise that the foundations of their religion are based on pagan idolatry rather than the Hebrew Christianity of the apostles, they will continue to wander aimlessly in the wilderness notwithstanding their many attempts to grapple with the modern world.