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Roman Catholicism Paperback – June 1, 2000

2.4 out of 5 stars 132 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 466 pages
  • Publisher: P & R Publishing (June 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875520928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875520926
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,176,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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By Stephen J. Garver on October 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Given all the extreme rhetoric of many of these reviews, I'd like to attempt to present something closer to a rational evaluation, largely borrowing from a review I wrote for another book sales website.
Lorraine Boettner's thorough and expansive treatment of Roman Catholicism has certainly become a classic since its first publication in 1962, widely disseminated and used as a basis for further critiques. Boettner's book is, however, also infamous. The book's infamy stems from its method of argumentation which combines various strategies: not only biblical exegesis, citation of Reformed creeds, quotations from Protestant authorities, and social analysis, but also innuendo, guilt by association, half-truths, and distortions of Roman Catholic teaching. Today, the book is also rather dated, failing to take account of the Second Vatican Council and other developments in 20th century Roman Catholic biblical and theological studies. For all its 450 pages, there is very little of continuing and helpful substance. It is, however, fun to read and bears witness to the polemics of an earlier era (one would wish!).
I do not have the space here to give a complete analysis of Boettner's shortcomings, but will cite some representative examples. Moreover, I do not speak here as an apologist for the Roman Catholic church. I am, in fact, like Boettner, a Reformed Protestant, though also a philosophy professor at a Roman Catholic University. It does not seem to me, however, that the cause of Protestant Christianity is well-served by inaccurate portrayals of other traditions or criticisms that only attack straw men. I write this review, then, on behalf of truth.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book back in the early 90's when it was given to me by a fundamentalist co-worker. I was a lax Catholic at the time who sailed through 12 years of Catholic schooling without ever really delving deep into my faith. I read the book with interest, and an open mind, since I already began having some serious challenges with what my friend was teaching me about the "obvious contradictions" (as he saw them) between Biblical teachings and Catholic doctrine. I found many of Dr. Boettner's historical accusations so over the top, and distorted that I soon began to question his scholarship (not to mention his motives) on everything else.

My curiosity was piqued and I began to devour every book I could find that would shed some light on how the early Christians read and understood scripture (starting with William A. Jurgens', "Faith of The Early Fathers") . It took the good Dr. Boettner to get me interested enough to finally begin searching for the truth - and it led me deeper into the Faith I was raised in. Thanks Dr. Boettner!
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Format: Paperback
Boettner's work has been on my shelf for some time, has been read more than once, and frankly it amazes me that the publishers will not update or edit the work. If it's such a wonderful seller, maybe they don't want to "mess with success".

The work reads well and lacks some of the caustic tone seen in these reviews. It lacks sound references in an academic sense - i.e., footnotes, bibliographies to specific editions, etc., typical for the time but unacceptable today. The reason? Because some of Boettner's facts are just wrong. Look at "Some Roman Catholic Heresies and Inventions in the introduction. "Baptizing of bells" is presented so the reader thinks that bells are actually baptized, a simply unexcusable stretch of the facts in a book filled with such items.

Boettner consistently uses religious terms that mean different things to Protestants and Roman Catholics. This is the root of much of the book's misleading statements and a cause of this controversy. As Christians (you potential reader) I suggest you refrain from this book and look elsewhere. There are many better books (on both sides of the controversy!) That this one sells is largely due to the nature of the audience that reads it, an audience afraid to have its assumptions challenged and afraid to undertake the difficult labor of validating this work. Don't take this short-cut. Get James White's "The Roman Catholic Controversy" or on the other side try Karl Keating's book. Both of these writers do a good job of presenting the case as Christians ought to do, and include academically rigorous footnotes, bibiographies, etc. Those are good values for the money.

Pick a side, pick a better book. But don't pick this one. It is dramatically outdated and very often clearly incorrect regarding today's Roman Catholic church.

By way of disclosure, I'm Protestant clergy with a theology training from the University of Cambridge.
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Format: Paperback
"Divine tradition is the writings of the fathers and doctors of the catholic church. Now God is infallible, so divine tradition should be also. But Boettner writes that Augustine, a prolific church father, wrote a book of retractions to his writings later in life. Another Church doctor, Alphonsus Liguori, in his book, the means of salvation and perfection, wrote that if God willed all the angels to go to hell, they would willingly do so to follow the divine will. This is absurd since God cannot make a contradiction."

In response to this post and this book, all I can say is that people need to do a better job of understanding what it is they are trying to condemn. First, Boettner misleads the reader to believe that Augustine "comes to his senses later in life". Maybe the reader should, himself, read Augustine to find the TRUTH. Boettner also attempts to build up a Catholic strawman and then knock it down. He does it well (who couldn't). In fact, if this was actually what the Church taught, I would be objecting myself. Furthermore, he is dishonest, which is a cardinal sin for a "scholar".

For starters, Catholic tradition is not the "writings of the fathers and doctors of the Catholic Church". The Church fathers bear witness to Apostolic Tradition, but they aren't in themselves "Tradition". Thus, a Church Father OR Doctor CAN err. Their writings are only accurate in as much as they agree with what the Church has always taught. This does not mean that our understanding cannot grow or expand. However, teachings cannot be contradicted (i.e. cold-blooded murder is never morally acceptable). The teaching on infallibility only extends to matters of faith and morals. And that only extends to the Magisterium.
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