Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s Contribution to a Better Understanding of Faith, Reason and Logos

Several times Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has referred to Logos and the relationship between faith and reason. His – nowadays neglected – contributions enable us to get a better understanding of these issues.   

For quite some time a lot of people have been talking about Logos or logos. Certainly, this is an important issue because it significantly helps in shedding light on the relationship between faith and reason.

However, in my view, Pope Emeritus Benedict’s contributions in this regard have unfortunately been neglected. In general, the relationship between faith and reason as well as the discussion of Logos take centre stage in several of his published writings and speeches. His famous Regensburg lecture, for instance, revolved around these issues, although the media laid the focus on his citation of a statement by the Byzantine emperor Manuel II about Muhammad at the end of the 14th century.

We can infer the subject of his lecture from its title “Faith, Reason and the University – Memories and Reflections”. During his address Benedict XVI referred to the idea of Logos at the beginning of the Gospel of John:

“Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, the first verse of the whole Bible, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: “In the beginning was the λόγος”. This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts, σὺν λόγω, with logos. Logos means both reason and word – a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos is God, says the Evangelist.”

Later the meaning of John’s words (1:1,14) for the Christian faith is again pointed out by Benedict XVI in the third and final volume of his series about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ (Eng. Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives (2012)).

According to the Pope Emeritus, Jesus‘ human existence or his flesh is, roughly speaking, “the dwelling-place of the Word, the eternal di­vine [Logos], in this world” (German version, 22). Christ’s origin also lies within God. Correspondingly, his origin is, so to speak, the beginning itself: “He comes from God. He is God. This “beginning” that has come to us opens up – as a beginning – a new manner of human existence (ibid.).”

Source (Alongside the Regensburg Lecture)

Ratzinger, Joseph (Benedict XVI). Jesus von Nazareth: Prolog – Die Kindheitsgeschichten. German paperback ed. Freiburg (et al.): Herder, 2014.