Reviews - What do customers think about The Word Made Flesh: An Overview of the Catholic Faith?
This is a beautiful book Feb 12, 2008
My two sons attended a Jesuit High School and this book was used in their religious education classes. This is a wonderful book! It is so well written and meaningful. My sons have since graduated but I always keep this book handy for myself and my husband to help us stay spiritually in touch with our faith. Anthony Marinelli has written a beautiful explanation of the Catholic faith.
AN EXCELLENT COMPANION PIECE TO FR. MCBRIEN'S CATHOLICISM Oct 9, 2006
This text serves as an even more accessible text than the excellent volume prepared by Notre Dame's pre-eminent Catholic Theologian Fr. Richard McBrien's Catholicism. Together they give the student an invaluable overview of our Universal Catholic Church and her Faith, meaning and mission to the modern world.
The Paulist Press as ever must be thanked for publishing such an important work.
A Compendium of Errors Apr 13, 2006
From the recent editorial "Catechism's Comeback" by Mark Gavreau Judge:
"And for years the misinformation has continued. When the new Catechism was being prepared in the early 1990s the Catholic left marshaled efforts to squash it, going so far as to heckle at a press conference announcing its publication. They also tried to shoehorn 'inclusive language' in the text, causing a delay until the text could be corrected. Then they started to claim that the Catechism, at 500 pages, is too unwieldy for students -- the argument I got from Georgetown Prep. Instead, Prep currently uses a book called The Word Made Flesh for freshman and sophomores. In it, author Anthony Martinelli never once gives the Church's definition for 'mortal sin.' He does not explain the discipline of celibacy. To show what church doctrine is, he uses the examples of women's ordination, writing that the Church has never ordained women but conceivably that could change. But in 1994 Pope John Paul II firmly stated that the church has no authority whatsoever to ordain women, and that this teaching is to be held definitively by the faithful. Cardinal Ratzinger-- now Pope Benedict -- later clarified this, announcing the pope was reiterating what is to be held as a Dogma by the faithful.
"And that's just the beginning. The Word Made Flesh has so many errors and questionable assumptions that it needs its own compendium to list them all. I'll confine myself to two of the book's most obvious flaws: its teaching on abortion and its claim that Christianity is not the only true faith. Author Martinelli uses the 'seamless garment' approach, a favorite argument of liberal Christians. According to the seamless garment argument, abortion is wrong, but it morally equivalent to poverty or pay inequities between genders. As The Word Made Flesh states,
'The Catholic Church not only opposes abortion but strongly opposes the conditions that lead to the need for abortion: discrimination against women in the workplace, poverty, lack of adequate health care and child care. The church cannot take a stand against abortion unless it is also willing to take a stand against the conditions that lead to it.'
"Moreover, the book says, 'The arguments used by the church [against abortion] are not religious ones at all. There is no appeal to faith or the commandments or to Jesus.' So the commandment not to kill has nothing to do with abortion. The Compendium of the Catholic Church, in question 470 -- 'What is Forbidden by the fifth commandment?' -- says differently. Forbidden is murder or cooperation in it, euthanasia, suicide -- and 'direct abortion, willed as an end or as means, as well as cooperation in it. Attached to this sin is the penalty of excommunication because, from the moment of his or her conception, the human being must be absolutely respected and protected in his integrity.'"
A Work of Great Faith Dec 12, 2005
This book is a wonderful expression of the Catholic faith for young adults and adolescents. Anthony Marinelli writes for his audience and explains faith in a way that will be meaningful and applicable to the lives of those he strives to reach. Bestowing the gifts of faith to the next generation at times call for something beyond orthodoxy...Marinelli's book is a suitable start for anyone beginning a journey of faith in Catholicism.
Not Recommended At All Jul 7, 2005
The author has many good things to say and his overall approach is to be commended. However, there are a number of errors in the book which invalidate its usefulness. For example, both in his discussion of sin and in the section on the Sacrament of Penance, he never once gives the Church's definition for "mortal sin." Thus, how can a person truly have the tools to discern whether he has indeed committed a mortal sin? He speaks only in general terms, such as that a mortal sin is a one that completely separates us from God. Furthermore, in the section on the sacrament of penance, he further muddies the waters by using the term "serious sin" instead, again without any reference to the Church's clear teaching on mortal sin, and he lists five sins which "under normal circumstances" are serious. Again, he gives the reader no way to tell for sure whether he has indeed committed a mortal sin in these cases. Interestingly, he also brings in the opinions of "some theologians" in talking about mortal sin, and so brings in the erroneous "fundamental option" theory which effectively excuses people from their sins as long as their "fundamental option" is for God. There is a proper understanding of fundamental option, but he does not mention it, and by bringing in this opinion of "some theologians" and not at the same time explaining it more or stating the Church's clear teaching, he only introduces confusion and possibly leads the reader to error.
His treatment on pluralism and the Church's understanding of the unicity of salvation in Christ is inadequate. While he rightly points out that there are noble elements in other world religions, and that indeed people in those religions can even possess great holiness, he does not adequately emphasize the uniqueness of the Catholic Church, namely that she possesses the fulness of truth, and that Catholics therefore must still evangelize these peoples.
Other problems - his treatment of the sacrament of Holy Orders is woefully short and leaves out important points like an explanation of the discipline of celibacy (I'm thankful, in a sense, that he didn't mention it). Related to this is the section where he defines Dogma, Doctrine, Canon Law, and so forth. To illustrate what Doctrine is, he uses the examples of women's ordination, saying that the Church has never ordained women, but conceivably that could change. Actually, in 1994, Pope John Paul II firmly stated what has always been the Church's faith, namely that she has no authority whatsoever to ordain women, and that this teaching is to be held definitively by the faithful. Cardinal Ratzinger later clarified this, with the approval of the pope, to say that the pope was reiterating what is to be held as a Dogma by the faithful.
Finally, there are some areas of the book which are ambiguous, possibly in a misleading way, for example what he has to say about the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, his use of the term "Hebrew Scriptures" which possibly implies that they have no relevance for Christians ("Old Testament" and "New Testament" are more than adequate terms to describe the provenance of the bible; we don't have to make up new terms which actually lead to greater confusion), and so forth. Also, a more complete discussion on sexuality is notably missing, for example I do not recall any mention of homosexuality, and he did not do the issue of chastity justice, particularly in these days when pornography is such a big problem.
I would recommend to all that they stick to the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" instead, and I also highly recommend the book "Catholicism for Dummies" which is quite orthodox and more up-to-date than this book which was written in 1993.