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How to Go from Being a Good Evangelical to a Committed Catholic in Ninety-Five Difficult Steps: Paperback – June 9, 2011
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-Francis J. Beckwith
author of Return to Rome: Confessions of An Evangelical Catholic
"Christian Smith is correct in describing why it usually takes a 'paradigm revolution' for an evangelical to become a Catholic. The 'anomalies' he describes for evangelical life are mostly accurate and his presentation of Catholicism is attractive. But this intriguing book would have been even better if it had paused to reflect on why there are so many paradigm shifts in the other direction--of people born Catholic who become evangelical. Anyone--Catholic, evangelical, or a convert in either direction--who responds thoughtfully to the arguments of this book will be a better Christian for having made the effort."
author of The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind
"I expect that this book may turn out to be the definitive text (short of the Fathers only!) for evangelicals who are prepared to address themselves courageously to the ecclesiological question. Smith's writing is brisk, starkly clear, challenging, and exhaustive (not exhausting!); he leaves no stone unturned. This is the best book I've seen on the topic."
author of On Being Catholic --Wipf and Stock Publishers
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
After explaining what that means, Smith takes the reader on a journey through the Evangelical paradigm, introduces some interesting anomalies within it, then more serious anomalies, then turns to the Roman Catholic paradigm (which would, BTW, nearly always work for other ancient Church traditions) and looks at how it can explain those anomalies better.
Whether one finds the book convincing or not is not so much the issue. This is not so much a polemic as an explanation of what one is going through when one experiences a religious paradigm shift.
I highly recommend this book to all who are contemplating "swimming the Tiber" and becoming Catholic, or those who are trying to understand why a friend or loved one has made the leap. Even those who simply want to understand what Catholics believe or why someone would want to convert will learn a great deal. The tone of the book is not scholarly or pedantic, but but is readable without being simplistic. In short, this book is an interesting, enjoyable, eye-opening read.
He mainly focuses on the idea of sola scriptura (scripture alone) as opposed to the idea of scripture plus the tradition of the Church to interpret scripture. Most of his book focuses on the shortcomings of the doctrine of scripture alone. This would be the easiest argument to defeat amongst the three solae statements of the reformation that are: sola fide (faith alone), sola gratia (grace alone), and sola scriptura (scripture alone). I would really recommend the book for Evangelicals to learn more about Catholicism, but I'd also recommend the book to good Catholics looking to combat stereotypes they face from many Protestants. And no, you don't need to be a biblical scholar or theologian to read this. I'm a physician in training with no prior experience in this area and found it to be a great, quick read.
The best compliment I can pay this book is that like Tom Howard's "Evangelical is Not Enough," many of us will be sure to have several copies on hand to give to friends and family. I believe this book will be useful for decades to come, not only for Evangelicals who are discerning their place in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, but also for Catholics who want a clearly reasoned argument for why we have chosen the path we have.
Because Smith is a sociologist, he organizes his book around the idea of a "paradigm shift" as adumbrated by Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. To that end, Smith starts out with a discussion of the worldview that subsists in Evangelical Christianity, then he recounts the many minor, inexplicable discontinuities that he regularly encountered in Evangelical Christianity, then he builds up to the major problems for which he could not find an answer in Evangelical Christianity, and finally he pointed to the paradigm shift which allowed him to see the world through Catholic eyes.
I am a life-long Catholic, and I found it fascinating to hear many of the things I had observed - or seen but couldn't explain - through Smith's Protestant perspective. In this way, Smith's book is a work of ecumenism - bridging a gap that may be more cultural and epistemological than it is theological. I know that I have had many knock-down, drag-out debates that were never resolved; after reading Smith, I realize that because the problem is cultural, it can't be resolved simply by appealing to commonly accepted texts.
For example, I've noticed the following whenever I get told that Catholics won't get to Heaven because of their "misunderstanding" about "justification":
"18. Note your dissatisfaction with the heavily cognitive, often rationalist, nature of much of Protestantism.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very well written. A page turner for anyone interested in the Catholic Church.Published 6 months ago by Julius EC Ip
I am a Protestant who has great respect for the Catholic Church and I hope that one day we can all be united again. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
Overall this book (Kindle edition) was informative and enlightening. Chapters 4 and 5 deserve 5 stars so the book is worth those two chapters alone, while Chapters 1-3 were not as... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Hikin Den
Insightful read. I feel as though I need to read it again. So many prejudices and biases I had towards Catholic Church plate unfounded, and that in matter of face, was grounded in... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Donald Griffin
I found this book to be incredibly important in laying aside a number of misconceptions I had about the Catholic Church. Read morePublished 17 months ago by dr.keithcox
This book is informative and serious. The title sounds like it may be tongue in cheek but it is not. Read morePublished on May 21, 2014 by Cosetta Groff
Overall this was a good book. It doesn't require you to know much about Church history in order to get something out of it, while other books in this category usually do. Read morePublished on September 11, 2013 by NoBias
I read this mostly because I was intrigued by the title, in spite of the fact that I was received into the Catholic Church 2.5 years ago. Read morePublished on June 9, 2013 by Amazon Customer
A helpful read in terms of the 95 steps the author proposes, but at times I felt he was a bit abrasive, as well as having some points that were quite weak ans somewhat repetitive.Published on April 28, 2013 by Lisa