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Is the Reformation Over?: An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism Paperback – April 1, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801035759
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801035753
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #527,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The eminent evangelical historian Noll and journalist Nystrom offer a lucid and charitable account of the current state of evangelical-Catholic relations. Only scant decades ago, they point out, Protestants inveighed against "the formalism, the anthropocentric worship, the power mongering, and the egotism" of Rome. But now, they wryly observe, all those qualities "flourish on every hand within Protestant evangelicalism." This willingness to see the proverbial beam in one's own eye is one of the great strengths of this book, which has as much to say about the authors' own Christian tradition as about Rome. Surveying the changes in Catholicism since Vatican II, and documenting the numerous encounters that have ensued between Catholics and Protestants, Noll and Nystrom find "a dramatically altered terrain" that offers hope for further rapprochement. Catholics will appreciate the authors' focus on official teaching, especially their appreciative, though not uncritical, survey of the Church's Catechism. Not all readers will agree that on the crucial Reformation-era topic of justification, "Catholics and evangelicals now believe approximately the same thing," and Noll and Nystrom barely mention popular practices, like the cult of Guadalupe and the late Pope John Paul II's reinstatement of indulgences, that trouble evangelicals. Still, even if they never quite answer the question posed in their title, Noll and Nystrom certainly make the case that that question's time has come. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Christianity Today 2006 Book Award Winner

"Here is superb theological journalism. The authors review Roman Catholic alterations of posture, if not of position, during the past half century; assess the overall shift as irreversible and transformational; and speculate provocatively on the significance of current Catholic/evangelical interaction in today's divided Christendom. Their thorough historical analysis will be a landmark resource for exploring the theological questions that Roman Catholic reconfiguration raises. This is an important book."--J. I. Packer, Regent College

"Noll and Nystrom have produced a volume remarkable for its intellectual maturity and depth. Not since Berkouwer's great works on Catholicism have we seen anything like this. Written with utter clarity and directness, undergirded by immense historical and theological scholarship, this volume is the best available statement of the relationship and by itself is a vital step in making informed conversation between the parties possible."--William M. Shea, College of the Holy Cross; author, The Lion and the Lamb: Evangelicals and Catholics in America

"To their credit, [the authors] examine deep and difficult matters with care and moderation. . . . Is the Reformation Over? is most successful as a systematic, historical documentation of a complicated and often contentious relationship. This is to be expected of Noll, whose outstanding works of church history are marked by careful research and well-measured opinions."--Carl E. Olson, Touchstone

"The Reformation is over only in the sense that to some extent it has succeeded. This book examines, with scholarly care and sensitivity, recent evangelical-Roman Catholic developments that lend credence to this possibility. This book will help all of us who are committed to exploring the common heritage, as well as the differences that still remain, between the two largest faith communities in the Christian world."--Timothy George, Beeson Divinity School; executive editor of Christianity Today

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Customer Reviews

This book has been wonderfully helpful to me in seeking to understand them.
Anne Rice
Issues Not Addressed It is clear that in a book of this size the authors cannot address every theological issue that seperates Protestant from Catholic.
Tim Challies
Some such analysis does occur in chapters 5 and 9, but as it is brief, it doesn't do justice to many of the issues.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Michael Dalton VINE VOICE on October 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As an evangelical Protestant I have often wondered what to make of Catholicism. How am I to view it? Am I to side with those who are virulent in their denunciations of it, or should I join with those who try to build bridges to those they see as their brothers and sisters in Christ?

The authors admit that those who tend toward the extremes will not be satisfied with this book, since the authors seem to favor the approach of those who choose dialogue and understanding rather than hostility.

Right from the start the book makes the contention and provides ample evidence "that both in the Roman Catholic Church and in relations between evangelicals and Catholics things are `not the way they used to be.'" Billy Graham is an example. During the 1950's Catholics were discouraged and in some countries even forbidden by their leaders to attend his meetings. Graham was just as strong in his stance against Catholics. By the 1980's Catholic leaders were participating in Crusades, and Graham even began to send decision cards of professed Catholics to the local Catholic archdiocese. In the year 2000, 15 Catholic delegates were officially sanctioned by the Vatican to attend Graham's Amsterdam conference to promote world evangelism.

This is one of many examples in the book given to support the idea that much has changed since the Second Vatican Council. That's not to say that significant differences between the two groups don't remain. The book looks at areas of agreement and differences primarily from a historical point of view. My guess is that you won't find a better book on the history of evangelical and Catholic relations.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Regular Joe on July 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In the spirit of Unitatis Redintegratio, these authors have embarked on a search of Christian history since the Reformation and how the evangelical Protestant view of Catholics has transformed through three major events: The election of John Paul II and his role in the collapse of communism, the Second Vatican Council, and the 1973 Roe v Wade decision that placed Catholics and Evangicals in America on the same team praying and working towards and end to the horrors of abortion.

The book does not serve to be overly biased towards Protestants or Catholics, but remains very fair in its assessment of the history of both groups and where we stand today. I believe it should take its place on any bookshelf of readers who have a concern for ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Protestants. Two thumbs up!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Spacemouse on March 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Noll and Nystrom's analysis of Catholic-Evangelical relations is one of the best such works currently available, in that it is both scholarly and charitable. (Other authors on this subject could stand to learn a good deal from Noll and Nystrom's advice about incorporating the three theological virtues in study of Catholic-Protestant differences.) The tone is balanced and fair. The authors are not afraid to offer criticism of Roman Catholicism, but they are strong enough to point out problems within Evangelicalism as well. At times they take quite literally the Biblical injunction to remove the log from one's own eye before pointing out the specks in others.

One caveat to the readers who may be looking for something different: the subtitle may be something of a misnomer. The authors are not so much assessing Roman Catholicism as they are assessing the relationship between Catholics and Evangelicals. This is not a book focused on theological analysis of the remaining doctrinal differences, and it may disappoint readers who are looking for such analysis. Some such analysis does occur in chapters 5 and 9, but as it is brief, it doesn't do justice to many of the issues. (Catholics, for example, will be confused to find so much emphasis put on clerical celibacy, which is not even a matter of doctrine, while the description of the Catholic view of sacraments seems inadequate in several respects. Evangelicals, for their part, may wonder why issues that seem serious are simply passed over briefly.)

What the book does best is offer a history of the changing relationship between the two religious campus and a thorough analysis of how the situation now stands.
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141 of 170 people found the following review helpful By Jan P. Dennis on July 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover

That's the simple, if too glib, answer. And the authors, who have taken a good deal of time and care to carefully examine the question, deserve a better response than that. Still, as a former Protestant Evangelical who entered the Catholic Church on the Easter Vigil of 2005, that's the conclusion I came to.

I came to the Catholic Church because I arrived at the point where I could affirm her self-understanding. This came about through a thirty-year process where I looked at the questions dividing Evangelicalism and Catholicism from the point of view of history, theology, and practice. Since Mark Noll is a historian, he seems especially attuned to the strength of the Catholic position, and the weakness of the Evangelical position, vis-a-vis history. Anyone who looks closely at the history of the Church in the first few centuries following Christ's resurrection will see clearly that it very early on takes on a Catholic appearance. From Clement of Rome through Ignatius of Antioch through Polycarp through Justin Martyr through Iranaeus--that is, from about the end of the first century through the end of the second century--the Church increasingly comes to resemble its present shape, in its structure, ecclesiology, liturgy, theology, and sacramental understanding. This is so clearly established that no one, except Protestant liberals like Elaine Pagels and Bart Ehrman, questions it anymore. The difficulty for Protestant Evangelicals is that they accept the theological developments but not the structural, ecclesiological, liturgical, and sacramental developments. The question arises, why accept the one and reject the others?
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