Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Roman but Not Catholic: What Remains at Stake 500 Years after the Reformation Paperback – October 17, 2017
|New from||Used from|
See the Best Books of 2017
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From the Back Cover
A Critique of Roman Catholicism in Defense of the Catholic Faith
"Collins and Walls make a vigorous case for why Rome should not insist on being the exclusive center of the catholic church. Roman centricity deconstructs true catholicity by suggesting that Orthodox and Protestant churches are deficient; it similarly undermines canonicity (i.e., biblical authority) insofar as sola scriptura is virtually displaced by sola Roma. Collins and Walls remind us that what continues to divide Christians 500 years after the Reformation are not simply disagreements over doctrine or the authority and interpretation of Scripture, but differences over the nature of the church and the meaning of catholicity."
--Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
"For decades, there has been a spirited polemic against Protestantism that sought intellectual solace and resolution in converting to Rome. It was only a matter of time before somebody, somewhere, would challenge this whole operation. Collins and Walls have done so in a way that lowers the temperature but does not shirk the full range of issues at stake. The claims of the Roman church are subject to searching examination in an irenic yet candid assessment. No doubt the debate will continue; we can only hope that the tone and content will be better as a result of their efforts."
--William J. Abraham, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University
"The thesis of Roman but Not Catholic is that 'the Church of Rome is not sufficiently catholic,' and Collins and Walls support that admittedly ironic claim irenically but stringently. This is a book every Protestant who feels some pull toward Rome must read before converting. It should also be read by every Protestant who knows a fellow Protestant moving toward Rome."
--Roger E. Olson, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University
"The 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation has spawned a number of attempts to explain why it happened and why it still matters. Collins and Walls paint a picture of Catholicism that is broader and more authentically traditional than the one professed by the Roman church. They do so with both clarity and charity and demonstrate that evangelical Protestantism has a strong claim to be the truest expression today of the faith once delivered to the saints."
--Gerald Bray, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
About the Author
Kenneth J. Collins (PhD, Drew University) is professor of historical theology and Wesley studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.
Jerry L. Walls (PhD, University of Notre Dame) is professor of philosophy and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
That has always been difficult, given the Roman Catholic posture in the dispute, which was noticed as early as the 17th century by the Swiss-Italian theologian Francis Turretin. By claiming the title of “The Church”, he said, “they think they can, as with one blow, beat down and settle the controversy waged against them …” by simply “hiding themselves under the specious title of the antiquity and infallibility of the Catholic church” (Turretin, “Institutes”, Vol 3. pgs 2-3).
The authors recognize that same Roman Catholic “method”: “This work is preeminently about Roman Catholicism; it is not about Protestantism, at least not directly. Accordingly, we can save some of the Roman Catholic apologists, authors, and bloggers much wasted effort in pointing out that we are humbly, honestly, and forthrightly aware of many of the faults and missteps of Protestant theological traditions. However, that is not our topic. Therefore, to point out repeatedly the weaknesses of Protestantism in the face of serious reflection on Roman Catholicism, as some apologists are wont to do, is in our judgment just another way of changing the conversation, even shutting it down, so that the very real problems of the Roman Catholic tradition are never actually faced.”
Turretin (and Protestants historically) have recommended more direct approach to learning the truth of the various Christian doctrines: that of viewing individual doctrines first of all Biblically, arguing for and maintaining their correctness individually, and then incorporating them into a broader body of what is understood to be correct doctrine. This is, in a nutshell, what Collins and Walls attempt to do in this book.
Officially, post-Vatican II Roman Catholicism has not changed its posture. They claim that “The one Church of Christ” is defined as that “which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which He erected for all ages as ‘the pillar and mainstay of the truth’. This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him” (from the Vatican II document “Lumen Gentium”).
In other words, in the post-reformation era, the Roman Catholic Church has sought to win doctrinal arguments by defining itself as the one and only authority with the appropriate jurisdiction to define and settle individual doctrinal questions. The net effect from Turretin’s time through today is that the Roman church government and the Roman church hierarchy are both the center, and the center of gravity of the historical church (in the view of Roman Catholic doctrine). And in fact, “The Catholic Church” then takes opportunities to fail to discuss the doctrines themselves, except in the shadow of “the authority of The Church”.
The authors of this work challenge this Roman Catholic view directly. With great charity – following in the tradition of C.S. Lewis and his notion of “Mere Christianity”, and in an effort to be “broadly ecumenical and generous”, they begin by rejecting (correctly, in my view) “the extreme polemics of some Protestant apologists” who claim that “Roman Catholics are not Christians, and the pope is the antichrist”, while affirming “what we agree on”. They situate the Roman Catholic Church not as “the center” of Christianity, but as a “distinct Christian theological communion”. The take-off point for the work then, is the notion that “some of the traditions and practices [that Roman Catholicism uniquely] has developed over the centuries may at times detract from both the power and the clarity of the gospel”.
The bulk of the work, then, is a sustained analysis of many of those areas where differences occur, in what they call “essays (largely historical and philosophical) along key themes that highlight the distinct claims of the Roman Catholic Church, especially those that set it apart from other theological traditions”.
As an alternative to the Roman Catholic approach to authority, they identify what they call “the ancient ecumenical church” – the church which shared “a commitment to the classic creeds: the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian”. They note that “The core doctrines summarized in these classic creeds provide the fundamental framework” even today “for the Christian faith as professed by Eastern Orthodox churches, Roman Catholic churches, and the churches of the Protestant Reformation” (pg. 1, Location 373). This is the key posture that they take throughout.
This is a book written largely for Protestants, not for Roman Catholics. To these individuals they say, “if you have an interest in the issues that divide evangelicals and other orthodox Protestants from Rome, and particularly if you are struggling with whether you need to cross the Tiber to practice your faith with full integrity (or if you have already done so but are rethinking the matter), we have written this book to explain why you need not do so. The chapters that follow are straightforwardly critical, sometimes pointedly so.”
That is definitely the case, and it’s the primary reason why I love this book and highly recommend it to all Protestants. The late Fulton Sheen made the statement that “There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church — which is, of course, quite a different thing.” (Foreword to Radio Replies Vol. 1, (1938) page ix”). While contesting Sheen’s numbers, I think it has to be admitted that very many Protestants don’t know what Roman Catholicism claims, nor what it is all about.
This book will go a long, long way toward correcting those misperceptions. Just to be fair, it seems that, in the era of “Pope Francis”, many Roman Catholics, too, show evidence of not knowing what “the Catholic Church” really is all about.
Following an initial chapter entitled “What We Have in Common”, the remaining 19 chapters (or essays) and a conclusion revolve around some of the most central and contentious issues surrounding the Protestant break with Rome. These “points of dispute represent instances where the Church of Rome has overreached and made claims that have greatly harmed the cause of Christian unity” (pg. 2, Location 410).
The first grouping of chapters surrounds the relationship of “tradition” and “Tradition” to Scripture. Moving through history from an oral tradition in the church at the time of Christ and the apostles, to a kind of “ecclesiastical” tradition that developed separately from Christ and the apostles, to a still later kind of “Tradition” that placed the authority of the church above both Scripture and tradition, Collins suggests that “the question of Scripture and tradition for Rome may in the end turn out to be not a question of revelation per se but a question of ecclesiology: What is the proper place and authority of ‘Holy Mother Church’?” (pg 45, Location 1399).
The next section begins to take on this very question, first addressing the claims of John Henry Newman in his famous “Essay” on the “Development of Doctrine”, and a claim that Newman himself identified, “that many of Rome’s essential doctrinal claims have scant support at best in the explicit teaching of Scripture as well as the early patristic sources”, and in later chapters, discussing how Biblical Authority and “the Church” relate in Roman Catholicism, and then in the broader church. Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church (following the Vatican II document, “Dei Verbum”), Walls points to the fact that “The Magisterium <i>alone</i> has the task of ‘giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God”. The important claim to be examined is, is there “some sort of necessary connection or linkage between Scripture, tradition, and the Roman magisterium”?
Newman argues that “later Roman doctrinal developments were simply making explicit and filling in the details of what was there all along (“implicitly”) in Christian revelation. But is that really the case? Walls then proceeds to analyze the various “notes” as to precisely what constitutes legitimate “development” and comes to the conclusion that “the number and range of complex issues that Newman pontificates on is nothing short of stunning”. Newman “not infrequently gets carried away with his own rhetoric and makes claims that far outstrip his evidence and arguments. In the end, Newman “strings together claims that are more or less probable”, and makes such a leap that, in Newman’s view, “Probability has miraculously been transformed into logical necessity, though to all appearances his actual argument rests entirely on various probability judgments and connections between different doctrines, many of which are highly contestable”. “If one accepts the incarnation, one must accept the whole Roman panoply of dogmas and practices, and it is impossible” to “intelligibly separate” the “incarnation from that larger body of claims”. In the end, “this claim that we cannot have Jesus without Rome is a classic case of rhetorical overreach as well as deeply confused thinking, and Newman’s argument does not even come close to demonstrating it”.
The next chapter is again contra-Newman, this time on a positive note: “Revelation, Biblical Authority, and Creed: how to affirm catholic faith without affirming the claims of Rome”.
Two more chapters analyze the nature of “The Church” – beginning with the “ancient ecumenical church” – that church which was the subject of the “one holy catholic and apostolic church” and then analyzing where Rome’s exclusive ecclesial claims come from, and how an absence of a counter-balance from the Eastern Church in 1054 enabled Rome and the papacy to make greater and greater claims. Citing Orthodox, Lutheran, and even Roman Catholic scholars, Collins concludes that the notion of an “unbroken succession, going back to the beginning” of the church “is clearly without grounding”. “It is a claim that has been repeated by many throughout the centuries; however, its veracity can neither be helped in the least by such a repetition nor by any length of time.”
After analyzing some common objections made by Roman Catholic apologists, the narrative becomes a thorough and scholarly analysis of some of those “uniquely Roman” claims, regarding the sacraments (especially the Roman Catholic notion that it alone has a “valid eucharist”). The reader will then find a keen overview of how elders (“presbyters”) became “priests”, and how the concept of “sacrifice” was imported into the Lord’s supper. There is a three-chapter history on the “development” of the non-existent early papacy – largely provided by Roman Catholic historians and theologians. Discussions of Mary (yes, she was important – no, she is not everything that Roman Catholicism says she was); two chapters on justification, pointing out “the ongoing confusion of justification with the ontological work of heart renewal in the process of sanctification”; plus an assessment of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic “Joint Declaration”; an overview of regeneration, assurance, and conversion; and a final chapter summarizing the current status of the Roman Catholic Church and the internal confusion that can be seen among various factions within “The Church”.
In the end, there is a “fluidity” not only to Roman Catholic theology on these topics, but also the doctrines that are engendered. Those doctrines at the very heart of Roman Catholicism, such as “transubstantiation” and “numerous Christologies operative in particular times and places”, and even doubts about “propositional revelation”. These notions are not “fringe” positions in the Roman Catholic Church, but rather are rather mainstream positions among not even theologians but by members of the hierarchy.
Walls concludes his section: “the point is clear. Protestant converts to Rome who imagine they are joining a church that is free of the divisions and disagreements that plague Protestantism are quite mistaken. Indeed, far from escaping those problems of Protestantism they disdain, they are in fact joining a church that is functionally a radically pluralist Protestant denomination.” Citing Gerald Bray, he says, “Intellectual Protestant converts [to Roman Catholicism or Orthodoxy] either ignore these unpleasant facts or make excuses for them in a way that they would never do for the Protestant denominations they have left”. Walls concludes, “the hard truth is that the permanence and unity that Roman apologists and converts like to project over against Protestantism is at best an idealistic illusion”.
So “what gives”? There is a “come to Jesus” moment. “How are the divisions among Christians in this life overcome in a glorious unity in the next?” In the end, the authors’ response is, “Protestants are sitting at the great wedding feast, then, not because they have been purged of deficiencies in the eyes of the Roman magisterium but because the Holy Spirit reigns in their hearts. All those artificial impediments that caused division on earth, even at the table of the Lord, have no weight in heaven. The wedding garment is not a particular ecclesiology or view of the sacraments but holiness!”
I realize this review has been a bit long. But after 500 years of separation (and 2000 years of history), there is a lot to discuss, and this work only begins to scratch the surface. But it scratches where it itches, and it promises relief, especially for those Protestants who seemed disillusioned with their own traditions, that they may not look to a “Church” for salvation, but to Christ alone.
Looking at the research presented in this book, I clearly see evidence for long hours of research and a well presented case of Collins and Walls to link the protestants and catholic churches back together as Christ prayed for before his death. This is not a case of who is right or wrong, but if we can look at the commonality of our theology and doctrine, Catholics and protestants inevitably should run back to God on this matter. We are one body with one savior.
Walls and Collins benefit the readers by guiding them in a gentle way, leading us back to Holy Communion together. If you look at their intentions, this is very evident. The schism in 1054 led to the breakdown of that communion, and we should be seeking to reconcile ourselves and recognize our brothers and sisters in Christ. I believe that by looking at the facts the reader will recognize truth in this material if they are willing to have an open mind about the subject.
I pray that God will use this book to bring debate throughout the church leading to the reconciliation of His church, the catholic (universal) church. It is not something we should fear, but it is something that should have been done a long time ago. I look forward to see how God uses this book for His glory.