I am really very fond of this book—although it is hardly as traditional as most books praised at this site and I first it read during a time when I was much less traditionally Catholic than I am today.
Still, this American college textbook can still serve as as an exceptional beginner’s book for getting to grips with the basics of Christian theology, history and tradition, from the Catholic perspective.
At any rate, when I was first studying theology at university, this book truly helped me. I found it far more beneficial than many other books. Simple without being simplistic, it brought the most essential elements to the fore, in an exceptionally clear, useful and accessible way.
Historical in its arrangement, the text features five major themes of systematic theology: revelation, God, creation, Jesus, and Church – and very much speaks to how the Church has shaped Western culture over the last two thousand years.
There appear to be a number of more well known books of a similar nature. Most notably, there is Richard McBrien’s ultra-liberal Catholicism – a book which horrifies me more with every passing year.
Given that this textbook also stems modern American academia, it cannot help but share a few of the same liberal tendencies as McBrien’s.
But in my memory of it—admittedly an earlier edition than the present fourth edition—it was nowhere near as egregious as McBrien.
No, I do not think the people who put this book together – Catherine A. Cory and Michael J. Hollerich (with contributions from others) – had anything like McBrien’s disingenuous agenda for tearing down tradition …
For a non-traditional college textbook, this is a fine primer, which really was exceptionally helpful to me at the beginning. For those seeking such as this, I would highly recommend it over many others.
The new fourth edition does appear radically changed from earlier editions. This review refers only to the earlier second and third editions, which are worth hunting down in preference to the current edition.
Foreword for Monarchy by Roger Buck
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