How fitting that today, Pentecost, I’m reviewing a book by such a gifted young man, so afire with desire to spread the news of what God’s loving Holy Spirit has done in his life and can do in the lives of us all. I pray that I may be given the words to do it some measure of justice.
I had the good fortune to read Shane Kaplers’s The God Who is Love: Explaining Christianity from Its Center in its electronic version several months ago, prior to publication, and I picked up on Shane’s stated intention to provide the reader with theological “one stop shopping.” I noted that he delivered. Well, now that the hard copy has been delivered to me, I’ve taken another trip through this storehouse of theological wisdom and inspiration, and I’d like to tell you what I brought home. It’s time to drop the shopping metaphor now though, since this book is certainly not about things we can buy, but is about so many wonderful things God has given to us and that we may share freely and generously with others.
The God Who is Love is a moving, amusing, exceptionally well-written and heartfelt explication of the Catholic faith. You will find clear and enlightening explanations of Catholic doctrines on such important matters as the loving nature of the Trinity, Jesus’ nature as complete God and complete man, the role of Mary as the mother of God and the mother of us all, the history and role of the papacy, the sacraments, the history and interrelationship between the Old and New Testaments, the relationship between faith and works, the multiple manifestations of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and so much more.
This book is rife with important catechetical and apologetic information, carefully culled from a plenitude of both ancient and modern sources, fully footnoted. It also features some carefully crafted charts, creatively capturing essential and sometimes surprising comparisons and contrasts between Old and New Testament texts, or elaborating on insightful reflections on issues such as the relationship between Christ and his Church or the simple, yet profound symbolic implications of the Sign of the Cross. There are also multiple appendices, covering issues as diverse as the logic of God’s existence, the Old Testament “Apocrypha,” and whether everyone receives the gift of tongues.
The God Who is Love then is chock-full of important insights, anchored in accurate and detailed scriptural, philosophical, and historical scholarship, but it is far more than a theological primer or handbook. It is also a gripping story of one modern young man’s personal encounter with God and His Church. Kapler masterfully interweaves into our lessons the developmental history of his own personal relationship with God and with the people God has placed in his life. This is what really makes The God Who is Love a book infused with love that inspires one to share love. His story of a young cradle Catholic, growing up in the Midwestern United States in the post-Vatican II era, in the heyday of the Pentecostal and charismatic movements, interacting and sharing with Catholic and Protestant youths afire with God’s spirit, struck a lot of chords with me, and I think there is plenty in his story to strike resonant chords with any thoughtful Christian.
Simply stated, Shane writes very, very well and I expect we’ll hear much more from him. You’ll feel like he is sitting across the table from you, telling you with excitement and joy what God has done for him and would love to do for you. He loves and lives and breathes the subject matter, and his joy in sharing his story leaps forth from every page. So, if the Spirit should move you to read The God Who is Love, I wouldn’t be surprised if you did so with a smile.