It’s hard to find a succinct book that covers the history of the Catholic Church. There’s a lot of ground to cover, but clearly there are high points that everyone should be familiar with. In that spirit, I picked up a copy of Building the Kingdom: A History of the Catholic Church by Robbie Peñate.
When I got the book, I had to laugh when I realized that I know the author. I went to college with him and we had a few classes together. I didn’t know him very well, but he was a recognizable face on campus.
This book was written for the organization LifeTeen, which means it’s geared towards teenagers. Robbie is a teacher, and he does a good job of tying the history the Church to the lessons in the spiritual life. He’ll be discussing the dilemma facing the Church in a particular situation and then apply it to modern times. For example, with the Edict of Milan, the Christian Church was legalized in the Roman Empire. However, after 300 years of persecution by pagans, Christians still faced discrimination. Robbie ties this fact to the reality of discrimination in our society today, despite the illegality.
I come away from the book with a good sense of the highlights in Church history. Eight years out of university, it was a good refresher. If I was a teenager, I probably would’ve found the book more engaging. I was looking for a book with more details. That being said, it was thoughtful, comprehensive in approach, and overall, a good book.
Rating: ★ ★ ★