At the Heart of the Gospel: Reclaiming the Body for the New Evangelization  -     By: Christopher West
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At the Heart of the Gospel: Reclaiming the Body for the New Evangelization

Image Entertainment / 2012 / Paperback

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Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 272
Vendor: Image Entertainment
Publication Date: 2012
ISBN: 0307987116
ISBN-13: 9780307987112
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Publisher's Description

The sexual revolution brought a terribly distorted vision of the body and sex into the mainstream. How should Christians respond? With his illuminating Theology of the Body, Pope John Paul II challenged the modern world not to stop at the surface, but to enter the depth of the "great mystery" that the body and sex reveal: a mystery that lies at the heart of the Gospel itself.
Since he first discovered John Paul II’s teaching in 1993, Christopher West has devoted himself to sharing its life-transforming message with the world. In this highly anticipated work, West leads us into the depth of Christ’s "nuptial union" with the Church, demonstrating how authentic Catholic teaching on the body and sex saves us from both the libertine perspective of popular culture and the cold puritanism that has sometimes infected Christianity. In the process, West provides a blueprint for reaching our sexually broken world in the "new evangelization."

Author Bio

Christopher West is recognized around the globe for his work teaching and promoting John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. He serves as a research fellow and faculty member of the Theology of the Body Institute near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is the founder of the Cor Project, a global outreach devoted to cultural renewal through the "new evangelization." He and his wife, Wendy, have five children and live near Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Editorial Reviews

"The light of the Gospel, which is a clear but at times painful light, can illumine human sexuality to its very depth in order to transform it and bring it to its full beauty. Here lies the great strength of Blessed John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. In this peaceful and positive response to critics, Christopher West proves once again that he is a faithful and inspiring interpreter and communicator of this great pope’s teaching, a teaching so urgently needed for an effective proclamation of the Gospel." —Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, cardinal archbishop of Vienna; general editor, Catechism of the Catholic Church; and grand chancellor, International Theological Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family

"Christopher West is to be commended for the courage and strength of conviction with which he proclaims, upholds, and defends the spousal vision of the Church, particularly as it’s articulated in John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.  It’s with great enthusiasm as his diocesan bishop that I endorse this magnificent book and recommend it to a wide, wide readership." - Most Reverend Joseph P. McFadden, Bishop of Harrisburg, Chairman, USCCB Committee on Catholic Education
 
"Inspiring, compelling, faithful and compassionate – At the Heart of the Gospel invites us to follow in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II as authentic witnesses of the truth and beauty of the Gospel amid the many challenges of contemporary culture.  A must read for everyone involved in the new evangelization!" - Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend,  Chairman, USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

"Christopher West has gone to the desert … and come back stronger than ever.  Those who may previously have thought his work was one-sided in its celebration of the body and sexuality will find here, brought out more clearly than ever, the deep balance and integration that has always been the foundation of his work." - Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of Saint Louis,  Chairman, USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations
 
"As a former professor of West’s, I may be biased in his favor, but I can honestly say that he has taught me a great deal through this magnificently developed and theologically sound work.  His balanced and insightful analyses make it clear that West has immersed himself in the great mystics, Fathers, and doctors of the Church.  His treatment of a delicate question of foreplay by married couples is perhaps the finest I have ever read.  In short, this is a magnificent theological work that ought to be widely read by all interested in the Theology of the Body and the new evangelization." - William E. May, Emeritus Michael J. McGivney Professor of Moral Theology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America.
 
"West’s highly anticipated work At the Heart of the Gospel is in keeping with the man I have come to know and respect since our close collaboration on the new English translation of TOB.  In short, this balanced and judicious work demonstrates what I have long understood: West knows John Paul II’s TOB as few others do and he shows great theological skill in presenting, explaining, and upholding the late Pope’s teaching.  He grasps its letter with remarkable completeness and is led faithfully by its spirit.  He is to be commended for his courage in defending John Paul II’s teaching (and the theological tradition upon which it’s based) in the face of strong opposition." - Michael Waldstein, Max Seckler Professor of Theology, Ave Maria University
 
"The beatification of Pope John Paul II is more than the Church’s official recognition of his sanctity.  John Paul II’s teaching is now bequeathed to the Church in a new way – not only by his authority as Pope, but also by his personal experience of sanctity.  Christopher West is an authentic witness to the transformative power of John Paul II’s teaching and this book accurately captures the meaning of his Theology of the Body and its critical importance for the new evangelization." - Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete, Theologian, Author, and Founding Professor of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, Washington D.C.
 
"Why should you read this book?  Because Christopher West is the "translator" of Pope John Paul the Great’s Theology of the Body into clear, simple, popular language; and the Theology of the Body is the Church’s answer to the great heresy of our time, the "Sexual Revolution"; and the Sexual Revolution is the main cause of the corruption and decline of marriage and the family; and the family is the primary key to the health of any civilization; and our civilization is already half way to "Brave New World."  At the Heart of the Gospel provides the alternative." - Peter Kreeft,
Professor of Philosophy, Boston College

"If complacency in the Church is a sleeping lion, then one can expect many swipes of the paw at the work of Christopher West.  At the Heart of the Gospel compellingly demonstrates the truth of the matter: West is bringing fresh grace to both the Church and the wider culture.  With the wisdom born of trial and the humble acceptance of his own poverty, West targets our aching need and directs us to healing with surgical precision.  His proclamation of the Gospel is joyous, contemporary, and contagious!  Onward Christopher, we are listening!" - Anne, a lay apostle
Direction for Our Times; Author, Lessons in Love

"At the Heart of the Gospel presents the wisdom and knowledge of an evangelist who’s been on the front lines for nearly twenty years.  With great humility, clarity and charity, Christopher West unpacks the life-giving teachings of the Catholic Church on what Blessed John Paul II considered the most pressing issue of our day – what it means to be a person made in God’s image as male and female – and teaches us how to communicate this life-saving truth to a world starving for love." - Matthew Pinto, President, Ascension Press

"Christopher West is a pioneer in reaching today’s culture with the Gospel." - Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.

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  1. Robbie Penate
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Masterfully Written, Theologically Souned
    October 13, 2013
    Robbie Penate
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 4
    Christopher West is a masterful author. His book, "At the Heart of the Gospel" reveals his ability to explain and defend his ideas, as well as his ability to develop his ideas more precisely in response to constructive criticism. This book is a result of the sabbatical that Christopher West took in 2010. In his introduction he explains: "I reflected prayerfully on the challenges my work has received, seeking to glean as much as possible from what various authors were saying.This book is the fruit of those reflections" (p. 3). West truly produced a masterpiece here.

    His main premise in this book, at least, what I took to be the main premise (there are many things that you argue are a "main premise") is that without properly understanding human sexuality we cannot truly understand the Incarnation or the relationship between Jesus Christ and His Church,which is so often portrayed in Sacred Scripture as a marriage. With this premise, West makes it easy for us to desire to study the Theology of the Body. If we understand this premise, we cannot help but desire to know more!

    West does a great job discussing the 2 extremes that are often taken by people regarding human sexuality. The first, which many Good Christians inadvertently take, is that we should try to crush/repress our sexual desires in order to be "holy". West does a good job explaining that this "Wound of Puritanism," as he calls it, does violence to the human person. It also implies that the body is evil, which can't be true if the Word became incarnate. West also says that this extreme facilitates the other: that of understanding our sexuality apart from our desire for holy love. I love what West says: "When believers demand a holiness free from eros, the secular world, for its part, quite happily demands an eros free of holiness."

    Perhaps my favorite part of West's book though, is not even directly related to human sexuality. West does a good job discussing one of the finer, more subtle points of Blessed John Paul II's Theology of the Body, the need to overcome concupiscence. West discusses the fact that avoiding sin is not virtue. Jesus gives us a "New Law" in the New Testament, that of living a life of virtue, not just of avoiding sin. There is a difference between not doing something that is wrong, and doing something that is right. As West says, "In effect, if all we've been given when it comes to Church teaching is a list of rules to follow, then we have yet to 'pass over' from the Old to the New Testaments" (page 81-82).

    My only 'bone to pick' so to speak is not one of doctrine but one of style. West ends up quoting quite copiously from his previous books, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I thought that he would find new ways to explain himself after spending so much time reflecting on the criticisms of his work. Also, West spends a lot of time on some foundational principles. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, but if you have a basic understanding of Theology of the Body, parts of this book will seem a little dull/slow.

    That being said, I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone, regardless of your understanding of Theology of the Body. Christopher West has done an incredible job making the teachings of Blessed John Paul II both relevant and accessible.

    I especially appreciated this book since I am a Theology teacher at a Catholic High School. It has really helped me in teaching Theology of the Body to my students! I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

    *I received this book free from WaterBrooke Multnomah Publishing for this review.
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