"Theology and Sanity" by Frank Sheed?


Could someone tell me please if “Theology and Sanity” by Frank Sheed is considered free of doctrinal error etc. I notice that in the front of the book it has “Published with ecclesiastical approval” but the book does not actually have printed an Imprimatur.

Another question, is the Imprimatur still regarded as the sole indication that a book is indeed free of doctrinal error etc…and if it is absent that the contents are suspect? It is hard to keep up with changes in The Church for a truly “person in the street” type Catholic.

Thank you and blessings this Easter Season…Barb:)


Theology and Sanity is a profoundly wonderful book. For any “person in the street” type Catholic, it ought to be in the top 5 books they read, if not for the more advanced Catholic as well.

The *Nihil Obstat *is still the standard sign that a book is free from doctrinal error, with the Imprimatur acknowledging that the book is not only free from error, but is truly worthy of being published. However, it is not the same as it was in the past, when it was only these books that could be considered acceptable.

In the past, an Imprimatur was required for a Catholic book to be licitly published. However, this requirement is no longer there. One reason is that bishops simply have so much to do that they cannot take the time required to review every book someone wants to publish. There are also many more lay authors nowthan in the past. Many Catholic authors do not apply for these stamps anymore, or if they do they begin publishing and add the stamps to later editions once granted.

Therefore, the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur are certainly good things to look for, but you can find good books that do not have them. In fact, the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat are only as good as the bishops that granted them anyhow, and we know what that can mean. :stuck_out_tongue:

So the moral of the story is, if it’s got one of those stamps and something seems fishy, ask about it, and if it doesn’t have them, just ask folks on tehse boards, or a trusted priest, or somebody else that’s knowledgable for their advice about a given title.

By the way, “published with ecclesiastical approval” means that Mr. Sheed’s wonderful book was published properly in accord with all Church laws in force at the time.

Peace and God bless!


Not only that, but it covers everything, and not in stilted language but easy to understand, one of the best books on the Faith you can ever read.

Frank Sheed also wrote one called “To Know Christ Jesus” which is also highly recommended.


Thank you very much indeed. I first read Theology and Sanity as a teenager which is quite a mystery to me as being now up to roughly Page 60, I would have thought it was far beyond me then. It stayed in my memory since then as a great book and so I have re purchased it for I hope a more enlightened read with the passage of the years. Since to page 60, Sheed is considering what I think is the philosophical concept of God, I am somewhat out of my depth being no philosopher which is laughable…so thought I would check in here to make sure I am not being led off the path:o . I am now reassured and more informed on the matter of Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur…I smiled with the comment re these latter things being only as good as the Bishop giving them. Some of our Bishops can have strange ideas to my mind. I still do like (conditioning) to see the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur on a book but do notice that quite a few really good books I have read do not have it.

Thanks again. This Apologetics Forum is a most reasurring place for me:thumbsup: …I am now reassured and very happily will continue reading …Blessings this Easter…Barb:)


Theology and Sanity is a profoundly wonderful book. For any “person in the street” type Catholic, it ought to be in the top 5 books they read

Would you list the next 4 please? I am a very average “person in the street” Catholic interested in Faith with understanding wherever may be possible…Blessings this Easter - Barb:)


Frank Sheed and his wife Maisie Ward ran a Catholic publishing house in England for many years. They were also deeply involved in the street preaching movement, which was much more popular in England than in the US. He was a devout and completely orthodox Catholic.

I never could really get into Theology and Sanity (a lack in me, not the book :blush:), but his book To Know Christ Jesus is a wonderful story of the life of Our Lord…:thumbsup:


Haha, I don’t think I really considered it that deeply. My thinking was, you need the Bible, and you need the Catechism, and then that leaves room for three more. I figured I’d be safe putting in in the top 5, because that leaves room for two other books that might be more important or of equal value. :slight_smile:

If I ever think of any really wonderful books worth reading, I’ll certainly try to remember to let you know!


Thank you very much!
I have a Bible of course and the Catechism and also de Caussade’s Abandonment to Divine Providence which opened doors for me when I thought there were none. I think my leaning at this point in time, having read Pope Benedict’s *Jesus of Nazareth *twice (and will go back to it again at some later point with a real need to do so) is for more theological type works that a layperson “in the street” can grasp…Faith seeking understanding where possible. If you do think of any good books for such a person, do let me know and I would be very grateful.
Blessings this Easter…Barb:)


Sheed’s smaller book Theology For Beginners is also wonderful. I don’t know how he could pack so many profound explanations into one small book.


that was going to be my recommendation, at my age, much easier to follow, and to put into practical use in classroom or discussion.


I was about to suggest this. It’s a much more friendly (but still meaty) read for those who are not ready for “Theology And Sanity.” It goes over much of the same ground, but in a less complicated way.


“Theology for Beginners” will be my next purchase…


Let us know what you think of it. :slight_smile:


Will do! It may be a while yet before I purchase Theology for Beginners, I have just spent a fair bit (for me) at Pauline Books and I think Theology and Sanity will be a slow read. I am still trying to let up to page 54 sink in and take hold - how I read it as a teenager defeats me - perhaps ye brain cells are indeed breaking down (now 62yrs)…and rapidly! I have thought of putting it away and buying Theology for Beginners and then going back to Th and S…but I think I am now too curious and “hooked” to put Th and S away. There is also the fact that I have spent for me too much at Pauline Books already.
Once I finish Theology and Sanity I will report back to the thread with my opinion, such as it may be…and do the same once I have read Theology for Beginners.
Thank you for the interest you have shown and the help you have been…and to all others too…hope this Season of Joy will indeed be a happy one for all and on into the coming year…Barb


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