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Formerly Essential Catholicism, this book has been retitled to reflect how, through the centuries, the Roman Catholic Church has evolved in many aspects of its teaching. The new title also reflects how theologians today grapple with ever new ways of understanding many facets of Catholic belief and practice.
Who is Jesus? Or Mary? Who are the saints? How are theologians trying to understand such topics as marriage, divorce, homosexuality? What of social justice? The relationship of conscience to papal authority? Thomas Bokenkotter masterfully shows how these questions and many others have been answered in different ways through the centuries. He also translates the latest theological writings on these topics into plain language. "My aim," he says, "has been to sift through and select what seems most helpful and enlightening for those who seek an understanding of the essentials of Catholicism today." Here, then, is a book for all Catholics -- those assured in their belief and those questioning it.
|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)|
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I found Bokenkotter's book to be refreshingly scientific and objective. Reading it was an inspiring journey of Faith that enabled me to understand my Church and myself better by putting religious teachings in a historical perspective. Bokenkotter gives a balanced treatment of modern scholarship and integrates it with the development of specific doctrines and issues (e.g., sacraments, birth control, Marian theology, priestly celibacy). To take the birth control issue as an example - Bokenkotter shows how the present state of ambivalence and tension arose within the Church: 'But after much agony of conscience, Paul VI issued his encyclical Humanae Vitae, which ruled out any artificial use of contraceptives as intrinsically wrong.' The author then describes the 'unprecedented' and 'remarkable' reaction against this encyclical by individual Catholics as well as formal objections from hierarchies throughout the world. In a more detailed analysis, he states that 'as some have pointed out, the papal encyclical offers no convincing proof of its main contention, namely that biological integrity must be held as an absolute norm over all other values sought by married couples from their union.' Bokenkotter concludes the chapter with 'We are more aware than ever today of how past statements of the ordinary magisterium must be interpreted according to their historical context.' Amen! Some people won't like this book. They yearn for the good old days when we could pull the Baltimore Catechism off the shelf and find 'the answers' to questions about the Catholic faith. I don't yearn for that age of simplistic naiveté, and neither do numerous educated Catholics. We are willing to examine the main ideas of our Faith from the perspective of scientific thinking and historical scholarship. That requires admitting the possibility that maybe we are wrong or perhaps our Church has been wrong. Faith is still going to be a personal experience that transcends logic and historical methodology. But the proper use of modern scientific thinking - including historical research methodologies ¿ has led me and many others to a better understanding of our Faith and to a legitimate growth in our spiritual lives. Books like Dynamic Catholicism contribute to this growth. It's almost safe to say that if you either think that the Catholic Church is the Beast of Revelation or that the papal position on birth control really is infallible, you won't 'like' this book. But even in that case you would be well advised to read it, because it really does give a good presentation of the historical development of numerous Catholic teachings. Even better, if you are among the large number of moderate Catholics who know perfectly well that the Church leaders have occasionally gone astray and said some silly things but you love the Church anyway and if you want to understand the genuinely inspiring teachings that the Church teaches today, this book will help you
I read this and recommend it to all. I think it would be found by laypeople to be a sound study of our history, theology and tradition.