Extended Review and Evaluation of Biographies of Jesus by Romano Guardini

From the start, Christianity has been rooted in the paradoxical claim that a human being executed as a criminal is the source of God’s life-giving and transforming Spirit. From the start, this “good news” has been regarded as foolishness to the wise of the world. Christianity has never been able to “prove” its claims except by appeal to the experiences and convictions of those already convinced. The only real validation for the claim that Christ is what the Creed claims him to be, that is, light from light, true God from true God, is to be found in the quality of life demonstrated by those who make this confession. The claims of the gospel cannot be demonstrated logically. They cannot be proved historically. They can be validated only existentially by the witness of authentic Christian discipleship. I in this paper I discuss the views on Jesus life and Christianity by Romano Guardini in his books “The End of the Modern World” and The Essential Guardini.

Romano Guardini states that Christianity has credibility, both with its own adherents and its despisers, to the degree that it claims and lives by its own distinctive identity. This means, at a minimum, recognizing that Christianity is not measured by cultural expectations but by the experiences and convictions by which it lives. The church must bear witness to the reality of a God who transforms suffering and death with the power of new life. A church that has lost a sense of boundaries–that is, a grasp of its self-definition – can only recover them by reasserting its character as a community of faith with a canon of Scripture and a creed. It is not at all obvious how Christians can recover some sense of community, canon, and creed. The present polarization and distrust between conservative and liberal tendencies within Christianity make the recovery more difficult. But a start might be the simple recognition that whatever the church’s discourse is, it should not be the same as the academy’s, nor should it be subject to the same rules or the same criteria of validity. It is time for a return from the academic captivity of the church. The Church’s true aim is, Mr. Guardini repeats, “. . . that we reach our fulfillment as human beings not by asserting ourselves, but by giving ourselves – by making ourselves into the gift to others that life itself is to us.” (Guardini, page 11)

In his books Romano Guardini says that church’s crisis has been dramatically exposed in the current historical Jesus debate. There has been no clear sense of where “the church” stands as a community concerning the historical Jesus. Several generations of scholars and theologians have been disabled from direct and responsible engagement with the texts of the tradition in their religious dimension by an uncritical acceptance of the epistemological assumptions of that method. Even more obvious has been the disappearance of the Creed as a meaningful framework for reading Scripture and undertaking theological discourse within the community. The more probable view historically is that the tradition about Jesus itself gave rise to preaching and became the content of the message of early evangelists and teachers. Selective memory, not creative imagination based on visual experiences, determined what missionary preachers proclaimed. Tradition owed its origin and growth to the Church in the sense that practical usefulness in evangelism and Christian nurture determined what was preserved in memory and later transmitted in literature. …