As a former Catholic, I can appreciate the intellectual and spiritual honesty that Tony Coffey invested in his book, "Once A Catholic." Coffey, a former Catholic himself as the title indicates, obviously know his subject matter-the Roman Catholic Church and its doctrines- extremely well.
Although Protestants and former Catholics such as myself can still be informed by Mr. Coffey's book, his writing is perhaps more helpful to Roman Catholics who want to know more about the origins, definitions, and significance of the peculiar doctrines that separate Catholics from other Christians.
Is the Catholic Church really the one true church intended by Christ? Should we base our Christian beliefs on the Holy Scriptures only, or does God want us to include the flexibility of Church tradition in the mix? What about confession, and the virgin Mary? These and other dogmas and Catholic teachings are explored and evaluated in an easy to understand, common sense manner with God's written word as the ultimate judge.
I would strongly recommend any Roman Catholics who do not have an understanding of the doctrines that they are required to believe, or how they relate to scripture, to read Coffey's book. They may be shocked to discover the lack of scriptural basis for what they have been raised to believe. For those Roman Catholics who are secure in their beliefs, can it do any harm to see another viewpoint? Those who have written reviews on this book and given it a bad rating make me wonder if they even bothered to read the book, or if they just automatically dismiss it as anti-Catholic.
Coffey's approach is gentle...this is not an angry or harsh denunciation of a denomination's practices and teachings. It is a loving call to awareness of God's objective and scriptural truth. Catholics reading this book may be surprised at what they learn and at one point thank God that they, too, can say they were "once a Catholic" but now know the difference between a relationship with a religion and a relationship with Christ.
When I began studying Catholicism, I bought this book, thinking, hoping, it might provide intelligent and informative refutations of Catholic teachings. Instead I found Mr. Coffey clearly knows very little about his former faith. At times his arguments seem legitimate, painting a picture of an utterly abhorable Church - an unrealistic picture of the Roman Catholic Church. Somewhere along the line he must have misinterpreted or misunderstood his instructors. I wouldn't suggest this book if you're honestly interested in Catholicism. And I wouldn't suggest it if you're not. If you want the Truth, buy something by Scott Hahn (Rome Sweet Home if you're beginning). Then buy something more in depth. But by all means, don't stop with Catholic books. Read anti-Catholic books as well. Keep an open mind and an open heart, begin, continue and end in prayer, and you'll understand the Catholic Church. May God bless you and your search for His Truth, and may that Truth reveal His amazing love.