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Catholic Christianity: A Complete Catechism of Catholic Church Beliefs Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church Paperback – March 1, 2001

4.7 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy at Boston College, is one of the most widely read Christian authors of our time. His many bestselling books cover a vast array of topics in spirituality, theology, and philosophy. They include Practical Theology, Back to Virtue, Because God Is Real, You Can Understand the Bible, Angels and Demons, Heaven: The Heart's Deepest Longing, and A Summa of the Summa.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 425 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (March 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898707986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898707984
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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I give this book 4.5 stars. I deducted 1/2 a star, not because of any disagreement in theology I might have with the Catholic faith, but because of a few things the book lacks.

I have been in many churches that preach the worst about Catholic Christianity from the pulpit. My late father was a non-practicing Catholic and I learned a little from his testimony about his experiences. Needless to say, I grew up with a skewed view of Catholicism. In working with several devout, intelligent and scholarly Catholics in my ministry, I have found that my initial views were wrong. While I do disagree with several Catholic theologies, I have grown to respect Catholicism and disregard that skewed reasoning with which I was initiated. This book does a superb job of doing this. Few Protestants are going to read through the Catholic Church Catechisms. But, this book does a pretty good job of explaining the general beliefs of the Catholic Church while referencing the CCC and Scripture.

Peter Kreeft begins with 10 chapters (154 pages) of what Catholics believe. He then devotes 10 chapters (126 pages) to how Catholics live and 10 chapters on the Sacraments and prayer (143 pages). The "Contents" page does a good job of pointing one in the general direction regarding the topic, and then at the beginning of each chapter, he gives a detailed and numbered topic list for the chapter. For instance, Chapter 5 is titled "Jesus Christ" in the Contents and the beginning of the chapter lists 27 topics including: 1: The Centrality of Christ through 27: Christ the conqueror of the world. This layout is unique and helps point the reader in the general direction.
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Format: Paperback
Whether you are Catholic and wanting to learn more about your faith or a non-Catholic wanting to understand either the Catholic Church or the beliefs of a Catholic friend, this book is for you. This book does so much more than "give the facts" about Catholic beliefs- it gives you the reasons why Catholics believe what they do. Kreeft clearly has the non-Catholic Christian in mind when he writes- providing Biblical and historical reasons for beliefs and practices. Furthermore, his writing style is not only easy to read, but engrossing. His love for God, the Catholic Church and the Bible is infectious. I would especially recommend this book for non-Catholics who are married to or plan to marry a Catholic spouse.
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Format: Paperback
Reading this book was one of my first steps in the direction of the Catholic Church. Growing up, I had always heard vague disapproval of the Catholic Church; lots of unspecific allusions to Mary-worship, "working your way to heaven", etc. Reading this book, however, lifted the veil and revealed the beauty, depth and truth that is the Catholic faith. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is willing to lay aside preconceived biases and begin an open-minded examination of the Catholic faith. I'm confident that in so doing you will be surprised by truth.
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Format: Paperback
Kreeft's "Catholic Christianity" is an excellent overview of the Faith, organized to parallel and explain the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Particularly useful are his explanatory analogies and defenses of Church teachings from misinformed and hostile critics. For instance, he uses the analogy of a flower to describe the three theological virtues, likening faith to the root, hope to the stem, and love to the flower or bloom.

His chapters on the Liturgy introduce readers to a solidity and "vertical" dimension missing from the guitar-strumming, irreverent exercises in self-worship that many Catholics experience at Mass.

In a section on the universality of Christ and the salvation of non-Christians, Kreeft correctly identifies the Church's "Christocentric" view: one must have faith in Christ to be saved, but that faith may be implicit or unclear or unaware of itself, as is the case with a good, God-seeking pagan who is unaware of the Gospel. He contrasts that with the conservative "ecclesiocentric" view of some within the Church who claim explicit membership is required for salvation and with the equally-wrong (and liberal) "theocentric" belief that all who seek God in any way are saved.

Similarly, "Catholic Christianity" is a corrective to revisionist presentations of the Gospel. In the section on the meaning of the names "Jesus" and "Christ", Kreeft cites paragraph 549 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness and death, Jesus performed messianic signs. Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below, but to free men from the greatest slavery, sin.
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Format: Paperback
This book is by no means the ultimate guide to Catholicism. Instead, it provides an overview of the beliefs held by the Catholic church as presented in the Catechism of the Church. Anyone new to the faith should pick up one of the many great introduction and apologetic books by authors like Tim Staples, Patrick Madrid, Scott Hahn, and Karl Keating. Their books explain the faith from the perspective of dealing with myths, misunderstanding, and outright lies of the Catholic Faith.
I enjoyed reading this book because it makes references to the catechism, which in turns makes references to sacred scripture and the writings of the earliest Christians. Peter Kreeft, though at times a bit dry and verbose, does an outstanding job of putting the pieces together. I highly recommend this book if you are a Catholic who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the faith.
To respond to some of the other reviews, it is important to remember that we are all in search of truth. The author's references to Protesantism are made to illuminate the similarities and contrasts of the two modes of Christianity. What is termed "Protestant Bashing" should refer to a situation where someone deliberately says malicious things about a faith. Defending someone's beliefs against those of another belief system is not bashing, but rather argumentative discourse.
The book is highly accurate, but if you are looking for responses to any of the typical and commonly-addressed anti-Catholic arguments, look at some of the apologetics books on the authors aforementioned.
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