- Paperback: 248 pages
- Publisher: Reformation Press (December 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0967084083
- ISBN-13: 978-0967084084
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,933,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Evangelical Answers Paperback – December, 1999
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Chapter headings are as follows:
1. Infallibility of the Catholic Church
2. The Nature of the Church
3. Apostolic Succession
4. The Canon
5. The Sufficiency of Scripture
6. Old Testament Israel - A Story of the Catholic Church
7. The Myth of Catholic Unity
8. Beliefs About Mary
9. The Catholic Priesthood
10. The Eucharist and the Mass
Incomprehensibly, Svendsen doesn't touch upon the MOST important issue dividing Evangelicals and Catholics; justification. Evangelicals believe in salvation by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE. Catholics believe in salvation through sacramental grace and works. For the author to have omitted a chapter on justification in a book such as this is an oversight of absolutely incredible proportions.
In light of the serious drawback mentioned above I wouldn't generally recommend this book although Svendsen does a fine job with the differences he does choose to address, even if he does tend toward an academic style. For a THOROUGH critique of Catholicism, including the issue of justification, with a less pedantic approach I would suggest James McCarthy's "The Gospel According to Rome."
A slew of excellent books examining Roman Catholicism were published in the 1990s and early 2000s by such Evangelical authors as James White, William Webster, Svendsen, and James McCarthy. Sadly, we're seeing a smaller number of similar publications in recent years.
He wrote in the Introduction to this 1999 book, "There is a growing number of conservative Catholics who have taken it upon themselves to defend the Catholic tradition.... Many of them are very clever debaters and can articulate their position in an extremely compelling way... in some of these debates the Evangelical side is represented by uninformed fundamentalists who are not focused well enough on the real issues---or, worse yet, not versed well enough in the Catholic apologists' own arguments! The end result is that the Catholic apologists' real objections are left unanswered. This book attempts to answer those objections... My goal in writing this book is to deal with the Catholic apologists' arguments in a fair but critical way... It is my hope... that this book... will serve as a wake-up call to a more thorough study of the so-far underdeveloped doctrine of sola scriptura among Evangelical churches, as well as a deeper understanding of that doctrine within every Christian individually." (Pg. 6-7)
He states, "It is rather the combined testimony of the internal and external evidence that leads us to believe that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote the gospels. In fact, the same church that provides us with this testimony also provides us with testimony that contradicts the internal evidence in other matters---such as which gospel was written first... Where is the ... dependence on the authority of the church fathers in this case?" (Pg. 11)
He argues, "While we may concede that Peter was a prominent and outspoken member of the early church, when one considers this evidence compared to the evidence supporting the primacy of Paul, and entirely different picture emerges. Paul wrote half of the books included in the New Testament canon---Peter wrote only two. Paul's life and mission are the focal point in Acts, comprising sixteen of its twenty-eight chapters---Peter's ministry comprises approximately eight chapters... Since the church is made up primarily of Gentiles (not Jews), it is odd that Paul should not have primacy afforded to him by the Catholic church. Moreover, Paul... did not see Peter as having the slightest primacy over him... the Catholic apologists engages in speciali pleading when he points to all the passages that seem to single out Peter in an attempt to demonstrate Petrine primacy, but concludes something completely different about those passages that single out Paul in a very similar way." (Pg. 23-24)
He states, "Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms how we are to test those who claim to represent him... The Catholic church must be measured against this standard. Does it pass the test? Yes and no. Until the late Middle Ages, the Catholic church ... could have passed Jesus' moral test. This is not the case, however, for the Roman Catholic church from the late MIddle Ages on to the Reformation. With the advent of Indugences, the Crusades, the Inquisition, multiples popes... and other such corruption, the Catholic church became disqualified from further consideration. The success of the Reformation was God's way of stating the fact." (Pg. 38)
He observes the "smorgasbord of beliefs from which to choose in Roman Catholicism" and the "deep rifts between the different sects within Catholicism"... The Catholic apologetics organization St. Joseph Communications points to the profound differences among Catholics on the understanding of the New Order of the Mass defined at Vatican II... These are just some of the differences of belief one finds within Roman Catholicism today, and it is abundantly clear that the 'infallible interpreter' in Rome is for all practical purposes functionally useless; for although he could make an infallible decision on every one of these disputes, he chooses not to do so." (Pg. 122-123)
He notes that "[Karl] Keating ... argues that when the New Testament makes reference to the 'brothers of Jesus' it really means 'cousins' or 'relatives.' He adduces his evidence from Septuagint, where the Greek word used in these passages, 'adelphos,' can mean 'relative.' But to transfer the Septuagint meaning of this word into the New Testament without any clear first-century examples betrays a misinformed, if not irresponsible approach. The fact is, 'adelphos' never means 'cousin' in the New Testament. Keating is... guilty of foisting a meaning on the New Testament use of 'adelphos' that it had 200 years prior to the penning of the New Testament, but that it did not have at the time of that penning." (Pg. 137-138)
This cogently-argued book is one of the best Evangelical critiques of Catholic doctrines, and will be of great interest to those looking for such critiques.