What is Christianity? Christianity is a simple term with a well-defined meaning. This meaning is in fact the ‘concept’ of Christianity; many go no further than this and confuse ‘Christianity’ with the ‘concept’ of Christianity. However accurate, correct and, at least to a certain extent, true this concept of Christianity is, to these people it will always be just a concept, an idea, an ‘essence’. They are never, in any case, able to penetrate this concept to the very heart of the thing, of the res significata. And so, they fail to grasp that vital, mysterious reality a reality that is always transcendent and which, consequently, is mystery – that lies at the heart of the concept itself.
To them, Christianity is a doctrine, a Creed, conceived precisely as a series of formulations which they generally call dogmas and interpret as intellectual statements regarding specific aspects. By this we certainly do not mean to say that Christianity does not ‘have’ its own doctrine, we merely wish to emphasise the fact that it ‘is’ much more than all this, much more than a concept, an essence or a series of formulas or dogmas.
The large volume III, Christianity, the central theme of the author’s rich production, consists of two parts. The first part deals mainly with the Christian tradition. It begins with a book dating back to 1963 (Humanismo y Cruz), in which the author presents the Cross as the centre of the Christian message.
Despite the language being old-fashioned, Panikkar believed it was worth including the book in his Opera Omnia because it expresses the form of spirituality he was developing in that period, of which it remains an important testimony. Following in chronological order are writings from the first period of his priesthood, which cover the years up to 1977, while the second part consists of those written up to the ¬author’s full maturity, representing the evolution of his spiritual journey and the testimony of faith.