An Introduction to Catholic Theology

Written by Richard Lennan (ed.) Reviewed By Tony Lane

An Introduction to Catholic Theology is perhaps an unfortunate title for this book. Those who come to it looking for an introduction to the thought of leading Catholic theologians will be disappointed. A more accurate title might be ‘An Introduction to Theology from a Catholic Perspective’. A Catholic about to embark on the study of theology would find it very helpful. The first chapter is on the definition of theology. The following chapters pursue specific themes in the light of this: the nature of humanity and religion as a human phenomenon; the role of faith and revelation; the role of Scripture and critical study of it; theology as ‘faith seeking understanding’ and the role of philosophy; the task of moral theology; the practical implications of theology for society at large.

The book aims to be user-friendly. Every chapter begins with a short summary of its contents and concludes with four ‘questions for reflection’ and four ‘suggestions for further reading’. The stance of the book is clearly Catholic, but this is not interpreted in an unduly narrow fashion. The only references to Luther and Calvin (170) are positive. Most, but by no means all, of the recommended books are by Catholics and while there are many references to Catholic sources, this does not exclude interaction with Christians from other traditions.

This book is of clear value to a Catholic student embarking on the study of theology. What interest would it have for an evangelical theological student? It would not be suitable for the evangelical student seeking a similar introductory guide, but it might be of interest for two other reasons. It will help the evangelical to understand better how Catholics approach the study of theology and, at the same time, bring the new insights that are to be gained from seeing how others approach the topic.

Tony Lane

London School of Theology