I had the privilege to read and review Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s book, Catholicism Pure & Simple, and happily I can wholeheartedly recommend it. The book is a fundamental introduction to Christianity and specifically, Catholicism. It’s the perfect book to give to a nominal or lapsed Catholic, an atheist, or to a Catholic wanting to understand their faith better.
Fr. Longenecker starts from scratch and demonstrates the reasonableness of believing in God. Behind his common-sense arguments are the complex philosophical ideas of Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas, but he presents them in an accessible way that is nonetheless very compelling.
He proceeds from the God whose existence we can know through the light of reason alone to the Trinity, whom we know only through Divine Revelation. Fr. Dwight sweeps through the highlights of the Israelites and God’s dealings with them, culminating in a great presentation of the Immaculate Conception and the miraculous Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Christ’s life, death, and resurrection are laid out in clear language and metaphors.
Fr. Dwight continues through salvation history to explain the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual Christian as well as within the Church. The last sections shine light on the sacraments and the nature of the Church herself, closing with the eschatological end of humanity, redeemed and reconciled to God once again.
The closest book I can think of to this excellent volume is Matthew Kelly’s Rediscover Catholicism. Both books are good, but in my opinion, and with all respect to Kelly and the great work he is doing for the Kingdom, Fr. Dwight’s has a broader appeal. It would be the first book I would give to an agnostic or atheist friend. It would also be the first book I would give to a fallen away or nominal Catholic friend. That is not to say that someone well-formed in their Catholic faith would not also benefit. There is much grist for the mill here, with each chapter packed with insightful analogies and imagery, calling and recalling to mind the deep mysteries of our Faith, and the glorious purpose and goal of our lives as God’s children.
Do swing over and check it out. Buy a few copies, one to keep and the others to share around.