Theology of the Body – Pope John Paul II

| June 12, 2012 | 5 Comments More

Possibly the Most Important Theological Work of the 20th Century


Pope John Paul II’s “Man and Woman He Created Them,” popularly known as “A Theology of the Body” may be the most important theological work of the 20th century. I say this because John Paul II is not only a first-rate theologian but also because “Theology of the Body” strikes at the heart of a series of related issues that desperately need addressing today. “Theology of the Body” begins with the Pope’s Trinitarianism, a fundamental doctrine that Christians often don’t know what to do with. At the heart of his thinking, and all true Christian thinking, is God’s self-giving love that is rooted in the Trinity. “Theology of the Body” also explores the nature of what it means to be human and made in the image of God. The book is titled “Man and Woman He Created Them” because it is especially in the relationship between a man and his wife that the relational and loving identity of God is revealed in humanity. Throughout, the Pope reaffirms the essential goodness of the human body.

“Theology of the Body” is thus a profound theological work that I highly recommend to pastors, teachers, and educated laymen. Be aware: it’s not an easy read! But a patient and thoughtful reading of “Theology of the Body” will, in time, become a blessing to the reader. One of the reasons it remains such a timely work is that it confronts some of the Gnostic tendencies in the Church today that spiritualize things and tend to downplay the significance and basic goodness of the body. At a time when humanistic and distorted views of human sexuality and identity abound, “Theology of the Body” provides an intelligent and profound rationale for the biblical, Christian meaning of sex, the body, and being made in the image of God.

While Protestants may think that a work written by a Pope would be too Roman Catholic for them, in reality “Theology of the Body” is a work for the whole Church and all Christians. The book is filled with profound and rare insight into who God is and who man is. It will help to complete the theology of most Christian readers and also has important practical implications.

Because the book was originally an extended series of lectures at times it can be unwieldy and difficult to comprehend. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand what the Pope means in certain sections, since his writing is often dense. In spite of the difficulty in reading, it’s well worth the effort. Because of the depth and difficulty of the work, some have found it beneficial to also read “Theology of the Body for Beginners” by Christopher West.

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Comments (5)

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  1. Rhiannon says:

    Dearest Fr. Erlandson,
    So glad I stumbled onto this devotion site. It is now in my favorites. I am a member of Holy Trinity Church (REC) in Fairfax, VA. I’ve been a member of REC for about 15 years but my father is a fallen Roman Catholic and as such I do have a deep affinity for the Catholic faith.

    Thanks to you (and EWTN radio) Theology of the Body will be next book on my list as will be the new JP II biography. I have 2 children (3 and and 9) and hope this will be a resource for a proper lifetime of lessons for rightwards Love–as opposed to the Education Systems courses of human sexuality.

    Blessings!

    • Charles says:

      Rhiannon: I’m so glad you found my devotionals and that God is using them to bless you. Please let others know about it! I hope you enjoy Theology of the Body.

      – Fr. Erlandson

  2. Theology of the Body – Pope John Paul II | Give Us This Day Devotional

  3. Diane Ehlers says:

    Dearest Fr. Erlandson,
    I have So Blessed by your devotionals because you Speak Life and are not afraid to tell the obvious
    1. Truth about folks such as Paris Hilton being remembered as a S….k
    2. You are right on the Mark about the Pharisees being the socialist Powers in Charge & the media.

    I live in Cincinnati, Ohio & I see. Lot of Roman Catholics being Reborn. It is such a blessing,
    Cincinnati is behinfd the east & west coast mentality by about 15 years so our local media actually allows our athletes who are Christians to go on & on about how Jesus has blessed their lives. I guess we are the most blest city in the USA in that respect.
    Thank you for sharing boldly the straight-up gospel in a straight-up way. I am a new member of your devotionals, 6 days in. Your comments are jolting but so true. If more Christians read your devotionals I think we would see a great movement for the better in all Christian churches, Can you please join me in praying for the rest of our lost Roman Catholics? My family is chock full of them & they have been brainwashed into believing it is the one true church & eceryone else is Wrong. I was raised catholic, went to cath school for 9 years & by 4th grade I knew in my heart that True Salvation was not there. So I have a special burden for the RCs of the world, but esp my relatives with their gilded edge holy cards. I will not waste any more of your time, dearest Fr. Erlandson, but Please continue doing what you’re doing in the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ who has so richly blessed us & given you a great wisdom that, praise The Lord, you are sharing Daily. Most Fondly, diane ehlers of Cincy, Ohio.

    • Charles says:

      Thank you, Diane, for your kind words. I’m glad you found my devotionals and are benefiting from them. Yes, I will pray today for our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters.

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