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Church of Rome at the Bar of History Paperback – November 1, 1997

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Church of Rome at the Bar of History + 2,000 Years of Christ's Power, Part Two (v. 2) + Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Banner of Truth; New edition edition (November 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0851517102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0851517100
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #708,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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64 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Scott on May 3, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I believe this to be a 5-star book, but I am concerned about who reads it. I can't imagine any Catholic reading this book and believing the material; unless you're a Catholic who is genuinely questioning the authority of your church this will only get your hackles up. Protestants who are strong in their faith don't need historical evidence to be convinced of their beliefs, so I am afraid that this book will only serve to poison your spirit against Catholic brothers and sisters.
To those very close to a Catholic: this book is immensely helpful in deciding what to believe. You are bomabarded constantly with Catholic claims to "catholicity"; that is, that Christ instituted only one church (naturally, the RCC) and that all Christians everywhere and for all time have believed exactly what the RCC says. Along the same lines, Reformation beliefs are johnny-come-lately's and that Protestants should return to the "real" church. This is the most difficult argument of Catholics to wrestle with, because Bible verses can be interpreted differently as can fruits of the Spirit but history is a fact.
Well, Webster blows the "catholic" argument out of the water. He has an easy job, because he doesn't have to show that Church Fathers would have been Protestant, merely that some beliefs of each father go against modern Catholicism. By quoting historical documents (which are extensively referenced), he shows that the early Church contained a mix of "Catholic" and "Protestant" beliefs (at best) or were entirely opposed to an idea like a papacy at the beginning. He admits that the doctrine of the Eucharist is the best supported historically, but even so, some authoritative writers explicitly supported views more like Calvin's on the topic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 50 REVIEWER on November 1, 2013
Format: Paperback
William A. Webster is a former Catholic and is now the pastor of Grace Bible Church (in the Reformed tradition) in Battle Ground, WA, and a founder of Christian Resources, Inc., a ministry dedicated to teaching and evangelism. He has also written Salvation: The Bible and Roman Catholicism and Christian: Following Christ As Lord.

He wrote in the Introduction to this 1995 book, "In this book we want to consider the whole issue of Scripture and tradition. We will review the claim of Scripture to be divinely inspired and the scriptural teaching about tradition. We will then examine some of the Roman Catholic Church's distinctive and traditional doctrines, and in particular, the claim that these doctrines are based on a tradition which has been handed down from the apostles to the bishops in an unbroken succession to the present day, to see if this claim can be verified historically. The ultimate question to be addressed is this: Is Scripture the final authority in matters related to faith and practice or has God also inspired tradition, as the Roman Church claims, as the unwritten Word of God which is to carry an equal authority?" (Pg. x)

He states, "the Roman Catholic Church has officially committed and bound itself, through two ecumenical Roman Councils, to the principle of unanimous consent relative to its teachings and to its interpretation of Scripture. This is an authoritative test by which the Roman Church itself can be judged.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Private Joker on March 7, 2015
Format: Paperback
I'm amazed there aren't more books like this.

If one spends time in the world of Roman Catholic apologetics, it's common to hear quotes from this early church father or that one, seemingly in support of currently-understood Catholic doctrine. This is used to suggest that true believers have always believed as Rome does and it is modern protestants who have introduced new and unbiblical doctrines.

Webster's approach is brilliant. He doesn't try to prove that ALL early Christians believed this way or that way- he doesn't need to! What he does is ask if various Catholic doctrines find support in a majority or church fathers since the beginning. And the answer to that question is "no." His point is that we see many of the same variation in belief among early Christians as we see in the Reformation and since- but no one was claiming one group had it all figured out and requiring ALL believers to accept their teaching "or else" until quite late in church history.

In other words, if such esteemed church fathers as Augustine, Jerome, Athanasius and Origen did not agree on everything but are not all condemned as heretics (indeed some are canonized "saints"), how can we accept church declarations in the past several centuries which say the church has always been unified in doctrine and if you disagree you are doomed?

I have read a lot of books from "both sides" of the Catholic-Protestant debate and I was impressed by the honest, accurate approach of this book. The author quotes church documents often and accurately, so he is not (as some might accuse) basing his arguments on a "straw man" of his own creation. He goes to the horse's mouth, as it were.

I'm surprised this work isn't more well-known. If you are curious or struggling with these topics, you owe it to yourself to get this well-written book.

Be blessed.
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