Only in the Crucified God

Written by Deacon Sean Loone.
It is reviewed here by Dr. Paul Severn.

“From time to time in our lives we all face difficulties, we all struggle and this very often prompts us to ask some fundamental and difficult-to-answer questions. In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown in the UK difficulties and struggles have certainly come to the fore and suffering cannot be side-stepped. Deacon Sean Loone’s book is “dedicated to all those who walk or who have walked in darkness.”

Deacon Sean’s book poses a number of fundamental questions and offers answers to them. He poses questions like: Where is God and what is he like? What is faith and what is a Christian? Is Jesus God and if he came to change things, why is everything the same? And the question that perhaps takes us to the core of our difficulties: God, where were you when I needed you most?

In classical theology answers to questions such as these are woven into an elaborate system, in a discipline known as apologetics. Classically, the apologist defends the faith and the work of the apologists, over time, leads to the production of teaching aids known as catechisms, the most recent of which was authorised by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1992. My paperback edition runs to a daunting 691 pages!

Deacon Sean’s presentation takes a markedly different approach and The Catechism is not mentioned or quoted once; rather he appeals directly to the biblical text to be read in the light of our own human experiences, whatever they may be. In his Foreword he declares scripture is “God’s love letter to the human race” and he invites the reader to explore that letter with him. Echoing Jesus himself, he invites us to “come and see” (Jn 1:39).

Deacon Sean powerfully presents Jesus as the face of God: a God who is love: Emmanuel – God with us, but this presentation is no saccharine-sweet love story. Rather he demonstrates, over and over that this Divine love is demonstrated most clearly in suffering and, above all, in Jesus’ death on the cross, where God’s love is laid bare.

Following St Paul, Deacon Sean links God’s infinite love to faith and hope. For if God’s love for us is without limit then our response should be proportionate. Our faith needs to be boundless – we must put all our trust and all our hope in Him. Deacon Sean’s presentation is accessible and simple but never simplistic. He is a companion on a journey, honest and engaging and the first few pages of the book are genuinely remarkable. He leads the reader gently from scepticism and uncertainty to the very edge of the life of faith, urging and enabling us to take the very final step ourselves.

I urge you to read this engaging and well-written book. It is indeed a great source of hope to all who dwell in darkness. It would also be a great aid to any novice or prospective preacher and displays an admirable familiarity with the biblical texts. If this is not enough, all profits from the sale of this book will be donated to CAFOD: The Catholic Association for Overseas Development”.