A theologian and church historian walks readers through the Catechism of the Catholic Church, winsomely evaluating Roman Catholic doctrine and practice from the perspective of both Scripture and evangelical theology.
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About the Author
Gregg R. Allison (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is secretary of the Evangelical Theological Society, a book review editor for the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, an elder at Sojourn Community Church, and a theological strategist for Sojourn Network. Allison has taught at several colleges and seminaries, including Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and is the author of numerous books, including Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine, Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church, and Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment.
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Comically speaking, the genesis of this book occurred when I, as a five-year-old, was told by a similarly young (pre-Vatican Council II) Catholic neighbor girl that I was headed straight to hell because I wasn't Catholic. Greatly upset and fearing for my eternal destiny, I asked my parents if we could go to church, and they promptly responded by taking me to the local United Methodist church. Though that choice did nothing to change the neighbor girl's assessment of and warning about my future condemnation, it at least started me down the Protestant pathway. After nurturing me on the works of Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, John Wesley, and many others, this road has brought me to the place where I am today: an evangelical systematic theologian of the Reformed Baptist variety.
Seriously, however, the origin of this book began in May 1976, when my fiancée (now wife, Nora) and I were visiting a businessman in Chesterton, Indiana, near South Bend. We had received permission from Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru) to begin raising support for our future campus ministry with that parachurch organization. During our conversation, in which Nora and I presented our upcoming work, the businessman jokingly exclaimed, "Wouldn't it be interesting if the two of you were assigned to be Cru staff at the University of Notre Dame." After a hearty laugh — "Sure, a Protestant missionary movement on the campus of the premier Catholic university in the United States!" — we concluded our presentation and said our thanks and good-byes. Getting into our car to return home, Nora (from the passenger side) and I (from the driver's side) looked at each other and, together, with a strong, divinely given conviction, said, "God is calling us to the University of Notre Dame."
After our wedding, honeymoon, and the commencement of our preparation as Cru staff, we received a Placement Request Form as part of our training. One of the questions on this form had to do with where we hoped to be placed. We promptly wrote in our assignment preference: "the University of Notre Dame." Soon after receiving our response, Cru leaders responsible for staff placement called us in for a little chat. They were quite intrigued that we wanted to go to Notre Dame (ND), as the Cru ministry was just beginning on that campus, and they were looking to assign more staff to join the small initial team. Nora and I, however, failed to meet their three qualifications: we did not come from a Catholic background, we were not veteran staff (who usually are responsible for starting new campus ministries), and we did not have children (so as to be in a similar season of life as the Cru staff couple already working at ND). Strike one. Strike two. Strike three. The Allisons were not going to be Cru staff at Notre Dame.
A bit later, to the same question on the second Placement Request Form, we wrote, "the University of Notre Dame." Somewhat perturbed, our placement leaders called us in for another conversation, wondering what about the initial "No, you are not going to be assigned to Notre Dame" we didn't understand. They tried to comfort us with the possibility that we would end up at Notre Dame after we had been on Cru staff for a number of years, but they assured us ND was not in our immediate future. Of course, we assured them that we were willing to go anywhere they assigned us. But deep down inside lingered the firm conviction that God was calling us to Notre Dame.
Accordingly, when the third Placement Request Form was distributed a week or so later, our reply to the now infamous question was "the University of Notre Dame." The placement leaders' flustered and emphatic response to what seemed like an intractable stance on our part was, "Perhaps God is calling you to Villanova or some other Catholic university, but you are not going to the University of Notre Dame!"
Another strike three for the second out.
Shortly thereafter, and along with all the new Cru staff, Nora and I received our Placement Envelope. Written on the form inside was our future assignment. Bound by a promise that we would not discuss the enclosed content with anyone else for a period of silence (twenty-four hours, which was to be used solely for the purpose of praying about our assignment), we found an isolated spot outside under a palm tree and nervously yet excitedly ripped open the envelope:
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is ... the University of Notre Dame.
After the day-long period of silence — which for us was filled with great thanksgiving verging on giddiness — the Cru placement leaders confirmed with us that our crystal clear call to be on staff at ND outweighed any and all obstacles to our being assigned there. Upon completion of our staff training, Nora and I raised our support, packed our belongings, and moved to South Bend, Indiana, to begin our ministry at the University of Notre Dame.
So began a two-year stint (1976–1978) as part of a Protestant missionary movement on the campus of the most well known and highly regarded Catholic university in America. At the beginning of our second year, more than two hundred and fifty students expressed a desire to be in one of our weekly Bible studies; we ended up being able to accommodate one hundred and fifty of them. Communicating the gospel with clarity, teaching how to read and study the Word of God, discipling new believers, developing leaders in ministry — these core Cru ministries were contextualized for a Catholic university. Indeed, with more than 80 percent of Notre Dame students being Catholic, we learned a great deal about Catholic theology and practice and developed a deep burden for ministering to and with Catholics.
Out of this burgeoning interest in Catholic ministry, Nora and I signed up for a Cru summer project in Rome (1978), where the majority of our first few weeks was spent sharing the gospel with students at the University of Rome. Though we didn't know much Italian, we quickly learned one phrase that was part and parcel of most of our conversations with Italian young people: "Non credo in Dio" (I don't believe in God). Because this widely entrenched atheism had not been our experience working with Catholics at Notre Dame, we desperately asked the Italian national director of Cru if he knew any evangelical Catholics. "Do you mean Catholics who have become evangelicals?" he replied. "No," we clarified, "do you know any Catholics who are Catholics but who believe as we evangelicals believe about the gospel, justification by grace through faith alone, and so forth?" His response caught us by surprise: "Yes. Would you like to meet some?" The next day, as we walked into a meeting of dozens of Catholics who believed as evangelicals believe, we participated in the launch of a Catholic lay evangelization movement called "Alfa-Omega: perché Cristo sia tutto in tutti" ("Alpha-Omega: that Christ may be all in all"). This encounter was the beginning of the fulfillment of a vision implanted several years earlier. Indeed, we committed to return to Italy to work with this movement.
After our return to the United States following the summer project, we raised support for our new assignment, completed three months of international staff training, and, moving to Firenze, studied Italian for six months before settling down in Rome. For the next three years (1979–1982), Nora and I were Cru staff embedded in Alfa-Omega. I served as the movement's first training center director, helping prepare Catholic laypeople in how to share the gospel, lead Bible studies, disciple new believers, prepare leaders, organize evangelistic meetings, train Bible study leaders, and the like. We also led weekly Reading Groups of the Gospel that, meeting during the week, would focus on the text of the Gospel reading for the upcoming Sunday mass while teaching a very simple inductive Bible study method consisting of the reading of the text, observation, interpretation, application, and prayer. Our goal was to expose Catholics to the person and work of Jesus Christ as presented in the Gospels so that they could embrace the good news of salvation. Following Alfa-Omega evangelistic campaigns in parishes in Sorbara and Nonantola (near Modena, in the province of Emilia-Romagna, in northern Italy), Nora and I would remain behind for several weeks to help train Bible study leaders to work with the hundreds of residents who signed up to be in weekly Reading Groups of the Gospel.
Along with our ministry within Alfa-Omega came numerous opportunities to work with priests, meet one of the bishops of the Province of Rome, attend a "private" audience with Pope John Paul II (along with 9,998 other invitees), sneak the Jesus film into what was then called Yugoslavia, speak before hundreds of Catholic clergy (bishops, priests, monks, nuns, and seminary professors) on the topic "The Importance of the Bible in Ministry," train other Cru staff for similar ministries with Catholics, and much more.
In addition to this robust experience ministering to and with Catholics, when working on the MDiv degree at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (1982–1985), I took a class, "The Documents of Vatican II" (S212; Fall 1983), at the nearby St. Mary of the Lake Seminary. Though this course was the extent of my formal training in Catholic theology and practice in a Catholic higher education context, I took a seminar on Roman Catholic Theology (DST 845A; Winter 1991) during my PhD studies at Trinity, regularly taught the Catholic theology elective course at Western Seminary (1994–2003), continue to regularly teach it at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where I am Professor of Christian Theology (2003–present), and attempt to keep up with developments in Catholic theology through reading and writing. My writings that interact with Catholic theology and practice are, "The Bible in Christianity: Roman Catholicism," in the ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008), 2613–2615; "The Theology of the Eucharist according to the Catholic Church," in The Lord's Supper: Remembering and Proclaiming Christ until He Comes, ed. Thomas R. Schreiner and Matthew R. Crawford (Nashville: B & H Academic, 2010), 151–192; and "A Response to Catholicism," in Journeys of Faith, ed. Robert Plummer (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), 115–128.
This introductory background sketch serves to highlight two points: First, though I do not have a Catholic background, I am an evangelical theologian whose experience with Catholic theology and practice is more extensive and personal than that of most evangelicals. Hopefully, this familiarity puts me in a position to be a trustworthy guide for evangelicals who desire to know about Catholicism. Second, my experience helps to explain the purposes of this book, which are twofold. One purpose is to highlight the commonalities between Catholic and evangelical theology, agreements or similarities that prompt intrigue. These shared doctrines and practices — e.g., the Trinity; the full deity and full humanity of Jesus Christ; worship and prayer — need to be recognized and appreciated, and they lead to thanksgiving for a limited yet real unity between Catholicism and evangelicalism. The other purpose is to underscore the divergences between Catholic and evangelical theology — disagreements or dissimilarities that require critique. These doctrinal and practical disparities — e.g., apostolic succession, transubstantiation, the immaculate conception of Mary, praying for the dead in purgatory — are serious points of division that must be faced honestly and sorrowfully, yet with a humble conviction that avoids minimizing the substantive distance between Catholicism and evangelicalism.
Such a book is intended for two primary and two secondary audiences. As for its primary audience, the first group consists of evangelicals who desire to become familiar with Catholic theology and assess it in terms of both Scripture and evangelical theology. The second group is evangelicals who wish to know better their own evangelical theology as compared with and contrasted to Catholic theology. As for the book's secondary audience, the first group consists of Catholics who want to learn what evangelicals think about Catholic theology and how they assess it. The second group is Catholics who want to learn evangelical theology as it is compared with and contrasted to Catholic theology, perhaps because they are moving toward embracing the evangelical faith.
It should be underscored that this book is not intended as a rabid anti-Catholic diatribe. Though it will strongly critique certain Catholic doctrines and practices, this criticism must be placed in the context of intrigue — the book's appreciation of and thanksgiving for the many commonalities between Catholic and evangelical theology. Furthermore, it must be emphasized that this book is not intended as an ambiguous presentation emphasizing the similarities and minimizing the divergences between the two theological positions in an attempt to promote some type of "lowest common denominator" ecumenism. Though it will underscore with gratitude the many agreements between Catholic and evangelical theology, such approbation must be placed in the context of critique — the book's negative evaluation of certain Catholic doctrines and practices against which evangelical theology does and must take a strong stand.
To accomplish this task, I have designed Roman Catholic Theology and Practice to be a walk through the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Beginning in chapter 3 of this book, for each section of the Catechism, I first describe in summary form and without comment the Catholic theology or practice addressed in that section; then I offer an assessment of that Catholic theology or practice from the perspective of both Scripture and evangelical theology. In chapter 2, I explain my interpretive approach to Scripture and outline the evangelical theological perspective that I use throughout the book. In that chapter I also address my understanding of and approach to Catholic theology as a system that is characterized by two axioms: the interdependence between nature and grace, and the Catholic Church as the ongoing incarnation of Jesus Christ. I then briefly set forth how these two tenets manifest themselves in concrete Catholic doctrines and practices. I conclude this chapter with an assessment of the two axioms.
Following closely the structure of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, chapters 3 through 6 will cover its first part, entitled, "The Profession of Faith," because it describes Catholic theology as it is professed in the Apostles' Creed (with a few additions from the Nicene Creed). Chapters 7 through 11 treat the second part of the Catechism, "The Celebration of the Christian Mystery," which explains the Catholic Church's sacramental economy and seven sacraments. Chapters 12 and 13 discuss the third part of the Catechism, on "Life in Christ," which presents salvation, law, grace, justification, merit, and the like. Conclusions and applications will be drawn in chapter 14. The chapter divisions in this book are somewhat random and do not follow the divisions (noted according to their Part, Section, Chapter, Article, and Paragraph numbers) within the Catechism itself; rather, my chapter divisions are used to divide the large amount of Catholic theology and practice into manageable portions for readers.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Roman Catholic Theology and Practice"
Copyright © 2014 Gregg R. Allison.
Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
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Table of Contents
Preface: Intrigue and Critique 17
1 Introduction 23
2 Scripture, Evangelical Theology, and Catholic Theology 31
Scripture and Its Interpretation
An Evangelical Vision of Life with God and Human Flourishing
Catholic Theology as a Coherent, All-Encompassing System
The Nature-Grace Interdependence
The Christ-Church Interconnection
I Catholic Theology according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Part 1 The Profession of Faith
3 The Profession of Faith (Part I, Section I, Chapters 1-3) 71
The Human Capacity for God; the Doctrine of Revelation; the Doctrine of Faith
Introduction: The Nature and Shape of the Catechism
The Human Capacity for God (Sec. 1, Ch. 1)
The Doctrine of Revelation: God Comes to Meet Human Beings (Sec. 1, Ch.2)
The Revelation of God (Art. 1)
The Transmission of Divine Revelation (Art. 2)
Sacred Scripture (Art. 3)
The Transmission of Divine Revelation/Sola Scriptura
Scripture and Its Interpretation
The Canon of Scripture
The Authoritative Interpretation of Scripture
The Doctrine of Faith: The Human Response to God (Sec. 1, Ch.3)
4 The Profession of Faith (Part I, Section 2, Chapter 1, Article 1 - Chapter 3, Article 8) 117
The Doctrines of God, Angels, Humanity, and Sin; the Doctrines of the Person of Christ, the Incarnation, and the Immaculate Conception of Mary; the Work of Christ; Christ's Resurrection, Ascension, and Second Coming; the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
The Doctrines of God, Angels, Humanity, and Sin: "I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth" (Sec. 2, Ch.1 Art, 1)
The Doctrine of the Person of Jesus Christ: "…and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord" (Sec. 2, Ch. 2, Art. 2)
The Doctrine of the Incarnation and the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception: "he was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the Virgin Mary" (Sec. 2, Ch. 2, Art. 3)
The Doctrine of the Work of Jesus Christ: "Jesus Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried" (Sec. 2, Ch. 2, Art. 4)
The Doctrine of the Resurrection: "he descended into hell, on the third day he rose again" (Sec. 2, Ch. 2, Art. 5)
The Doctrine of the Resurrection: "he descended into hell, on the third day he rose again" (Sec. 2, Ch. 2, Art. 5)
The Doctrine of the Ascension: "he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father" (Sec. 2, Ch. 2, Art. 6)
The Doctrine of the Second Coming and Divine Judgment; "from thence he will come again to judge the living and the dead" (Sec. 2, Ch. 2, Art. 7)
The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit: "I believe in the Holy Spirit"' (Sec. 2, Ch. 3, Art. 8)
5 The Profession of Faith (Part I, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 9) 159
The Doctrine of the Church
The Doctrine of the Church: "I believe in the holy catholic church" (Sec. 2, Ch. 3, Art. 9; Para. 1-3)
The Doctrine of the Church: "I believe in the holy catholic church" (Sec. 2, Ch. 3, Art. 9; Para. 4-6)
The Communion of Saints
Mary as Mother of the Church
6 The Profession of Faith (Part I, Section 2, Chapter 3, Articles 10-12) 207
The Doctrines of Salvation, Our Future Resurrection, and Eternal Life
The Doctrine, of Salvation: "I believe in the forgiveness of sins" (Sec. 2, Ch. 3, Art. 10)
The Doctrine of Our Future Resurrection: "I believe in the resurrection of the body" (Sec. 2, Ch. 3, Art. 11)
The Doctrine of Eternal Life: "I believe in life everlasting" (Sec. 2, Ch.3, Art. 12)
II Catholic Theology according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Part 2 The Celebration of the Christian Mystery (Part 2, Section 1)
7 The Celebrating of the Christian Mystery (Part 2, Section 1) 227
The Liturgy and the Sacramental Economy
Introduction: Why the Liturgy?
The Sacramental Economy (Sec. 1)
The Liturgy-Work of the Holy Trinity (Sec. 1, Ch. 1, Art. 1)
The Paschal Mystery in the Church's Sacraments (Sec. 1, Ch. 1. Art. 2)
The Sacramental Celebration of the Paschal Mystery (Sec. 1, Ch. 2)
Celebrating the Church's Liturgy (Sec. 1, Ch. 2. Art. 1), and Liturgical Diversity and the Unity of the Mystery (Sec. 1, Ch. 2, Art. 2)
8 The Celebration of the Christian Mystery (Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 1, Articles 1-2) 259
The Seven Sacraments; The Sacraments of Christian Initiation: Baptism and Confirmation
The Seven Sacraments of the Church (Sec. 2)
The Sacraments of Christian Initiation (Sec. 2, Ch. 1)
The Sacrament of Baptism (Sec. 2, Ch. 1, Art. 1)
Faith and Baptism
The Sacrament of Confirmation (Sec. 2, Ch. 1, Art. 2)
9 The Celebration of the Christian Mystery (Part 2. Section 2, Chapter I, Article 3) 299
The Sacrament of the Eucharist (Sec. 2, Ch. 1, Art. 3)
Excursus: The Contemporary Celebration of the Sacrament of the Eucharist
Sacramental Interpretation of the "Bread of Life" Discourse
Prefigurations of the Eucharist
The Dogma of Transubstantiation
Re-presentation of Christ's Sacrifice
The Church's Participation in the Offering of Christ
Infusion of Grace
Ongoing Worship of Christ
Relationship of the Eucharist to Penance
10 The Celebration of the Christian Mystery (Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 2, Articles 4-5) 327
The Sacraments of Healing: Penance and Reconciliation; Anointing of the Sick
The Sacraments of Healing (Sec. 2, Ch. 2)
The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (Sec. 2, Ch. 2, Art. 4)
Penance Is Not a Sacrament
Pre- and Post-Baptismal Sins
Two Moments of Conversion
Acts of Penance
The Two-Sided Nature of Sin
Mortal and Venial Sins
Human and Divine Action
Two Effects of Penance
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick (Sec. 2, Ch. 2, Art. 5)
Anointing of the Sick Is Not a Sacrament
11 The Celebration of the Christian Mystery (Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Articles 6-7) 357
The Sacraments at the Service of Communion: Holy Orders; Matrimony
The Sacraments at the Service of Communion (Sec. 2, Ch. 3)
The Sacrament of Holy Orders (Sec. 2, Ch. 3, Art. 6)
Old Covenant Levitical Priesthood
Two Aspects of the Priesthood
Celebration and Recipients of the Sacrament
The Sacrament of Matrimony (Sec. 2, Ch. 3, Art, 7)
III Catholic Theology according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Part 3 Life in Christ
12 Life in Christ (Part 3, Section I, Chapters 1-2) 391
Human Vocation: Life in the Spirit; the Human Community
Human Vocation: Life in the Spirit (Sec. 1)
The Dignity of the Human Person (Sec. 1, Ch. 1)
Man: The Image of God (Sec. I, Ch. 1, Art. 1)
Our Vocation to Beatitude (Sec. 1, Ch. 1, Art. 2)
Human freedom (Sec. 1, Ch. 1, Art. 3)
The Morality of Human Acts (Sec. 1, Ch. 1, Art. 4)
The Morality of the Passions (Sec. 1, Ch. 1, Art. 5)
Moral Conscience (Sec. I, Ch. 1, Art. 6)
The Virtues (Sec. 1, Ch. 1, Art. 7)
Sin (Sec.1, Ch.1, Art. 7)
The Human Community (Sec. 1, Ch. 2)
The Person and Society (Sec. 1, Ch. 2, Art. 1)
Participation in Social Life (Sec. 1, Ch. 2, Art. 2)
Social Justice (Sec. 1, Ch. 2, Art. 3)
13 Life in Christ (Part 3, Section I, Chapter 3) 413
Salvation; Law; Grace and Justification; Merit; the Church, Mother and Teacher
God's Salvation: Law and Grace (Sec. 1, Ch. 3)
The Moral Law (Sec. 1, Ch. 3, Art. 1)
Grace and Justification; Merit (Sec. 1, Ch. 3. Art. 2)
The Church, Mother and Teacher (Sec. 1, Ch. 3, Art. 3)
Grace and justification
The Church, Mother and Teacher
14 Evangelical Ministry with Catholics 453
General Index 459
Scripture Index 479
What People are Saying About This
“If you are looking for a few bullet-points and caricatures, this book will disappoint. But if you are looking for a serious survey drawn from the Catholic Catechism and other primary sources, along with an evangelical assessment of each point, Professor Allison’s labors will pay rich dividends.”
Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California
“This book is good news to those who have long desired a reliable theological guide in dealing with Roman Catholicism. Based on a painstaking analysis of the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church, it covers the all-embracing trajectory of Roman Catholic theology and practice. Instead of juxtaposing ephemeral impressions and disconnected data, Allison provides a theological framework that accounts for the complexity of the Roman Catholic system and its dynamic unity. This book is to be commended for its biblical depth, theological acuteness, historical alertness, and systemic awareness. My hope is that this landmark book will reorient evangelical theology away from its attraction for a shallow ecumenicity with Rome toward a serious dialogue based on the Word of God.”
Leonardo De Chirico, Professor of Historical Theology, Istituto di Formazione Evangelica e Documentazione, Padova, Italy; Pastor, Breccia di Roma, Rome; author, A Christian's Pocket Guide to the Papacy
“Writing with an irenic and thoughtful tone, Allison engages with Rome via the Church’s official Catechism and helps the reader understand what Protestants and Roman Catholics share in common and where they differ. This book is neither spinelessly ecumenical nor harshly polemical, but a fair and principled engagement with the beliefs of Rome.”
Carl R. Trueman, Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies, Grove City College
“A very useful evangelical assessment of Roman Catholicism. Unlike so many such books, it does not concentrate merely on points of difference, but considers the whole sweep of Roman Catholic teaching, as set out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It affirms points of agreement as well as noting points of disagreement. It acknowledges that evangelicalism is not monochromatic and points to areas where some evangelicals would agree with Rome while others would not. This is a thorough guide that is warmly to be commended.”
Anthony N. S. Lane , Professor of Historical Theology, London School of Theology; author, Exploring Christian Doctrine
“With his characteristic depth and clarity, Gregg Allison escorts readers to the Catholic/Protestant intersection to analyze theological commonalities and differences. In addition to yielding indispensable insight, this volume exemplifies the sort of warmhearted and principled approach that today’s conversation desperately needs.”
Chris Castaldo, Pastor, New Covenant Church, Naperville, Illinois; author, Talking with Catholics about the Gospel; coauthor, The Unfinished Reformation: What Unites and Divides Catholics and Protestants after 500 Years
“Protestants and Catholics need to invent a new kind of relationship. The fire and sword of the Reformation era were unworthy of Christ; so were the desperate efforts of irresponsible leaders in the past century to deny that we ever really disagreed. Can we preach different views of the gospel and still love each other? If so, how do we understand that relationship, spiritually and ecclesially? With a systematic thoroughness worthy of Thomas Aquinas himself, Gregg Allison lays out the theological issues at stake. He provides a full overview of the questions that face us, and his commitment to fully love his Catholic neighbors while fully speaking the truth to them shows us how to handle our disagreements in a manner worthy of Christ. This book will reward the careful study it invites.”
Greg Forster, Director, Oikonomia Network at the Center for Transformational Churches, Trinity International University; author, The Joy of Calvinism
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Another Anti-Catholic white wash. Mr. Allison does what every anti-Catholic does when attacking the Church: he set up a straw man and then proceeds to kick it down. His motives and methods are suspect from the very beginning. First of all he writes this book to give ammunition to those who are outside of the Church in order to resist Catholicism and then he wants to use this book to "assist" people leaving the Catholic Church. The method he uses is to give us his personal understanding of Catholic theology based on a reading of the Catechism of the Catholic Church alleging that this is a "systematic theology." He then asserts his own personal religious preferences without justification asserting and assuming that he is right and Catholics are wrong. Nowhere is there any explanation for why Catholic theology is the way it is, nor why "evangelical" theology is a superior alternative. The Catechism is NOT a systematic theology but exactly what the title implies: an exposition of doctrine for the teaching of Catholics at all levels. Had Mr. Allison been honest, he would have addressed himself to more substantive scholarly works of Catholic theology such as Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Schebeen's "The Mysteries of Christianity", St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae, the multivolume dogmatic theology by Frs. Pohle and Preuss. or other scholarly works. By starting with a popular exposition instead of a scholarly one, Mr. Allison runs roughshod over the real issues between Catholicism and those outside the Church. And he never deals with the issue of why Catholicism has rejected the teachings of the Deformers and their scions. Nor does he deal with the historical issues which show that his views and that of other "evangelicals" were truly heretical. The term "haereses" means literally "innovation." Whereas the Church has held fast to the revelations received once and for all from the Apostles, the Deformers always counseled that modern scholarly opinion was to be preferred over tradition. Thus in every new generation, what is "evangelical" is detrmined by the zeitgeist and never by the Heilige Geist. And so every "evangelical" theology is the work of mere men. Thus the entire Deformation movement is a theological Pelagian figment: man-made religion in the service of human wants and desires. This book is highly disappointing but rather typical. Fallen man will resist and misrepresent the Gospel at every turn and use any dishonest method to do so without compunction. And the sad patrimony of the Deformation is that its defenders remain critical of everyone but themselves. I tried to communicate this to Mr. Allison but his response was rude and insensitive. His mind is made up and he does not wish to be confused with the facts. Pass this book by. It is not what a real seeker of truth is looking for.