The Light of Christ
An Introduction to Catholicism
Imprint: Catholic University of America Press
The Light of Christ provides an accessible presentation of Catholicism that is grounded in traditional theology, but engaged with a host of contemporary questions or objections. Inspired by the theologies of Irenaeus, Thomas Aquinas and John Henry Newman, and rooted in a post-Vatican II context, Fr. Thomas Joseph White presents major doctrines of the Christian religion in a way that is comprehensible for non-specialists: knowledge of God, the mystery of the Trinity, the Incarnation and the atonement, the sacraments and the moral life, eschatology and prayer.
At the same time, The Light of Christ also addresses topics such as evolution, the modern historical study of Jesus and the Bible, and objections to Catholic moral teaching. Touching on the concerns of contemporary readers, Fr. White examines questions such as whether Christianity is compatible with the findings of the modern sciences, whether historical Jesus studies disrupt or confirm the teaching of the faith, and whether history confirms the antiquity of Catholic claims.
This book serves as an excellent introduction for young professionals with no specialized background in theology who are interested in learning more about Catholicism, or as an introduction to Catholic theology. It will also serve as a helpful text for theology courses in a university context.
As Fr. White states in the book's introduction: "This is a book that offers itself as a companion. I do not presume to argue the reader into the truths of the Catholic faith, though I will make arguments. My goal is to make explicit in a few broad strokes the shape of Catholicism. I hope to outline its inherent intelligibility or form as a mystery that is at once visible and invisible, ancient and contemporary, mystical and reasonable."
"It is aptly named: Father White shines the light of serious teaching and reflection into the darkness of emotionalism… the book is also imbued with the spirit of St. Augustine and Blessed John Henry Newman — that is, with their attentiveness to the longings, intuitions and wounds of the human heart... 'Father, is there a book you can recommend?' We priests hear this question fairly often. The Light of Christ is such a book. It can be recommended generally — but especially to those coming to the faith, to those desiring to go deeper, and to college and even high-school students needing to cultivate the habit of thinking clearly about the faith... This book strikes me as particularly important for seminarians. It is the perfect introduction to genuine pastoral theology: that is, good theology done well, with reverence for the culture’s questions and with a view to living — not just knowing — the faith. It shows how a priest can explain the faith, engage contemporary questions, and impart the genuine instinct and intuition of Catholic thought."~Fr. Paul Scalia, Diocese of Arlington, National Catholic Register
"This book, written by one of the preeminent Catholic theologians in the United States, speaks to many, if not most of the most popular questions people have about Catholicism, and is particularly relevant for those most familiar with the Reformed tradition...It is for this reason that i recommend The Light of Christ, not only to interested non-Catholics, but also to Catholics seeking to deepen their understanding and appreciation of their own faith."~Casey Chalk, Blog Post
"Father Thomas White, OP has written a book on the Catholic Church that is destined to be a classic. It is erudite yet written in an engaging style making it accessible to the educated layperson - which is the intended audience. Even non-Catholics may be convinced that the Catholic Church is indeed the light of Christ. Father White's skill as a writer and theologian come together nicely throughout the book. He always provides new and different insights on the topics he covers. This is his particular talent. That is what makes this book so good. The author's Thomistic vision- the importance of natural reason and law-comes through throughtout this splendid book. Yet there is also the more subtle influence of John Henry Newman and his articulation of the illative sense. This is that type of reason that brings together many human experiences and creates a unified belief-for Newman, a belief in God. Father White makes this case with his book as one clearly sees how the Catholic Church-its institutions, practices, and beliefs-has always articulated and defended the illative sense. That is why it remains the Light of Christ."~Lanz, Tobias J., StAR
"Father White's book, The Light of Christ: An Introduction to Catholicism (Catholic University of America Press, 2017) offers a serious overview of the Catholic faith. It is not a scholarly work, but one that does challenge us to enter more deeply into the theological tradition of the Church, flowing from the Bible and Catechism. the Fathers, and especially the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. Part of the genious of the book is how it uses the theological tradition to address contemporary concerns such as evolution, sexual ethics, and relativism."~Staudt, Jared, Denver Catholic
"This book is an introduction to Catholic doctrine written for educated laypeople who are seeking to understand their faith more deeply or who are exploring conversion to the Catholic faith…This is a Newmanian book. A pastor of souls who is keenly interested in the debates of our day, Fr. White has Newman's rare power of going deeply into topics without sacrificing eminently readable prose... I cannot commend this book highly enough. Fr. White maintains that the Catholic faith is true, and he explains why with intellectual generosity and grace. In doing so with a Newmanian lucidity of mind, he has put an entire generation in his debt."~Levering, Matthew, Newman Studies Journal
"In 1968 Joseph Ratzinger published his great Introduction to Christianity. While rarely equaled, 50 years later it does have a worthy popular successor. The Light of Christ combines scholarly depth with an engaging style to present the what and why of Catholic belief with exceptional clarity and grace. In walking the reader persuasively through the faith that generations of Christians have sought to witness, Fr. White has done a service not just for the believing community but for any intelligent adult seeking a path to God."~Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia
"Thomas Joseph White is one of the brightest and most articulate theologians writing today. This book is an intelligent and spiritually alert introduction to the principal themes of Catholic theology. Both beginners and serious academics will find much to savor in its pages. –"~Bishop Robert Barron, author of The Priority of Christ: Toward a Postliberal Catholicism
"One of America's leading young theologians offers a challenging, bracing, and comprehensive introduction to the mind of the Catholic Church--and doesn't neglect the Catholic heart in the process. The perfect evangelical gift for the skeptical or inquisitive young intellectual who wants to know what Catholics really think and believe, and why. –"~George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center