A Christian Pocket Guide to the Papacy. A Book Review by Chris Castaldo

Here is a review of my book on the papacy by Chris Castaldo (PhD, London School of Theology), lead pastor of New Covenant Church in Naperville, Illinois. He is the author of Talking with Catholics about the Gospel. Chris blogs at www.chriscastaldo.com.

Leonardo De Chirico. A Christian’s Pocket Guide to the Papacy: Its Origin and Role in the 21st Century. Ross-shire, Scotland, UK: Christian Focus, 2015. 128 pp. $7.99.

The office of the papacy is an enigma to most evangelical Protestants. The spectacle of medieval regalia, papal coronation, gem-studded tiara (several of which are displayed at the Vatican), red leather loafers, and the popemobile tend to provoke curiosity, skepticism, and bewilderment. Add to these visible symbols the pope’s claim to supremacy, monarchial titles (over the Vatican, of which he is a head of state), infallibility, and a standing army, and the portrait gets even more perplexing.

Cutting through the fog of mystery and confusion is Leonardo De Chirico’s new book, A Christian’s Pocket Guide to the Papacy: Its Origin and Role in the 21st Century. De Chirico is ideally suited to write this volume. An Italian historical theologian with specialization in Roman Catholic history and thought, he has spent numerous years teaching in the Eternal City. He sits at the table in ecumenical dialogue with Vatican scholars while simultaneously pastoring a Protestant congregation (which he planted in partnership with Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s City to City initiative). Consequently, we’re getting a treatment that is in some sense “insider,” intimately acquainted with the finer points of the Vatican, and at the same time thoroughly evangelical, rock-ribbed in its commitment to Scripture’s supreme authority.

De Chirico begins by examining the historical development of the papal office through its titles and symbols. Readers are then escorted to the Sistine Chapel to observe cardinals in conclave (“from the Latin cum clave, “locked up with a key”). By the way, such parenthetical definitions fill each chapter, providing insight into a myriad of Latin expressions (e.g., Pontifex Maximus, plenitude potestatis, ex-cathedra). A couple of paragraphs later, he consults the Catechism of the Catholic Church to note how such formulations are explicitly defined by contemporary Roman Catholic teaching. Whether it’s the “keys” of Peter, the pope’s throne, or his pallium (a woolen cloak), De Chirico explains how such symbols convey the form and substance of papal authority.

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Another review of the book by James Dudley-Smith was published on Evangelicals Now (July 2015) p. 26 (https://www.e-n.org.uk/2015/07/reviews/rome-alone/)

I am also pleased to announce the publication of the Italian edition of the book

Il papato. Una guida evangelica, Firenze, BE Edizioni 2015, pp. 116.



Il papato. Una guida evangelica

”Gaudium magnum: habemus papam”

Questo annuncio presenta un nuovo papa al mondo. Il papa è uno degli ultimi esempi di sovranità assoluta nel mondo moderno e rappresenta una delle istituzioni più antiche, anche se nel 2013 l’attuale papa Francesco è stato nominato dal Time “persona dell’anno”. Questo libro risponde alle seguenti domande introduttive: chi è il papa e in che modo la chiesa cattolica romana definisce il suo ruolo? Che relazione c’è tra Pietro e il papa? Pietro è stato il primo papa? Come può una posizione di guida nella chiesa cristiana avere assunto una forma così “imperiale”? Perché Roma è stata così importante in questo processo? Come veniva visto dai riformatori protestanti del XVI secolo e oltre? Che cosa si può dire dei papi contemporanei? Qual è il significato ecumenico del papato e quali sono le sue prospettive nel mondo globale? Queste e altre domande costituiscono lo sfondo delle nostre indagini sull’intreccio biblico, storico e teologico del papato da un punto di vista evangelico.

Video of the presentation of the book at the National Book Fair in Torino

An interview on the contents of the book

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