My rating: 5 of 5 stars
One of the great faults we often have when dealing with others who hold to different beliefs is to not understand their position properly. Sometimes the misunderstanding is due to simple ignorance. Sometimes the misunderstanding is willful and malicious. If we are going to hold to the position that all truths is God’s truth, then we do not have to succumb to the fear that often sparks the clear violations of the 9th commandment that often plague discussion and debate. “Straw man” is just a fancy way to say “a lie” and Christians especially have no reason or right to engage in this type of rhetoric.
One of the persistent areas of debate where Christians can be found slinging handfuls of half-truths is when Protestants discuss Catholicism(or Catholics discuss Protestantism, I am sure…I just have much more experience from this side of Wittenburg).
That is why a book like Gregg Allison’s Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment is so needed and so helpful. Allison does not stoop to conjecture and caricature. He does not play a he-said/she-said game either. Allison presents Roman Catholic theology in its own words and in its best light. He also presents a forceful case against Roman Catholic theology from an Evangelical perspective. He does all this while keeping the tone, if not irenic, at least civil and never sinking to the depths that conversations like this often fall. Allison’s approach should be mimicked by Christians in many areas(when interacting with people of other faiths, dealing with hot-button issues like abortion, evolution, gay marriage, race relations, etc…).
Archibald Alexander had a great rule about when we engage in debate. He said to, “(a)ttribute to an antagonist no opinion he does not own, though it be a necessary consequence.” Basically his point was that when debating, we should present the case that our opponent would make. Allison does this nicely.
Allison’s approach, beyond his respectful tone and honesty, is another positive of this volume. Instead of approaching Roman Catholic theology in an atomistic, let’s-talk-about-Mary….now-let’s-talk-about-transubstantiation approach, Allison critiques the theological system of Roman Catholicism. He deals with topics of course, but the topics are not dealt with as divorced from the framework from which they arise.
Allison provides the church with a great resource. He dives into some deep waters at times, but this work remains immensely readable and quite helpful.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
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