In his Tradition and Authenticity in the Search for Ecumenic Widsom, Thomas Langan argued that the close interaction of traditions in today's society calls for methodical critical appropriation of the beliefs fostered by the principal traditions. He also promised to demonstrate by example how such appropriation could be accomplished. In The Catholic Tradition, Langan successfully fulfills that vow by showing how a tradition-the Catholic-has shaped his own outlook. In this comprehensive study, Langan examines the history of the Catholic Chruch and the origins of its teachings since the Church's conception. Although committed to the Catholic religion, Langan does not obscure the Church's failings as he lays out the fundamentals of the Catholic faith. With meticulous detail, he treats the great Christological councils, discusses the differences in the spiritualities of East and West, and portrays the crucial roles that the pope and bishops played during the Dark Ages. He examines the role of the pope's authority in the defintion of doctrine and the importance of symbols within the Church. He incorporates the thought of Augustine Aquinas, and medieval Catholicism as he traces the rise and decline of Christian Europe, the priesthood, the Eucharist, and spirituality. Satan has no greater triumph, Langan asserts, than when Catholics, wo are supposedly recipients of the Good News of God's universal love, allow selections from their tradition to be turned into sectarianism and ideology. This balanced history of the Church as human reality deals with just such perversions. But despite betrayals byits own across the centuries, the Catholic tradition, with its origin at Sinai, remaisn the oldest and largest extant religious institution. Students of theology, as well as anyone interested in Catholicism, or in man's struggle for any higher tradition, will welcome his addition to the literature.
Thomas Langan is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. He is the author of numerous books, including Being and Truth and Tradition and Authenticity in the Search for Ecumenic Wisdom, both available from the University of Missouri Press.