While an undergraduate student, I was fortunate to study under the renowned Catholic apologist Peter Kreeft. At the time, I — like many of my fellow classmates — was a Protestant, and we would frequently ask Dr. Kreeft questions about the differences between Protestants and Catholics. He would always begin with the same provocative statement that I imagine he has used for decades to frustrate earnest Protestants: “The Catholic Church makes claims much greater than any Protestant church. So if they are wrong, the Catholic Church is very arrogant, idolatrous, bad, and the old-fashioned anti-Catholicism is right. But if the claims are true, then everybody should be a Catholic.”
In his new book, If Protestantism Is True: The Reformation Meets Rome, Devin Rose examines the claims of the Church and proves that they are both great and true.
If Protestantism Is True begins as an examination of history. For Rose, the former atheist-turned-evangelical, now a Catholic, the first and most logical starting point is to examine the claim that Christ established “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” If this is true, then everything else taught by the Church must also be so. Rose provides a compelling analysis of both sacred Scripture and writings from the early Church Fathers to settle various matters of history and doctrine.
After concluding that Christ did indeed establish the Church as one, unified Church on earth, with apostolic succession, he moves on to other doctrinal matters often considered suspect by Protestants. He examines the authenticity of the canon of Scripture, the sacraments, devotion to Mary, papal infallibility, the communion of saints, purgatory and the Church’s moral teachings on matters of marriage, contraception, divorce and others. In essence, he is weaving together a multilayered, full tapestry that gives evidence to the consistency and unity of Church teaching.
For those suspicious of the authority of Rome, If Protestantism Is True serves as a mirror that demands an examination of the claims and history of other traditions. Why, after 1,500 years, at the time of the Reformation, did one man have the authority to question centuries of settled teaching?
Rose reminds his readers that Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and others could not come to an agreement on many matters of faith and simply had to engage in a game of picking and choosing to string together their own set of beliefs. This is a dangerous business that has regrettably yielded 500 years of disagreement and disunity among Protestants. Even with such criticism, Rose maintains an attitude of charity that is necessary to win over any skeptic.
If Protestantism Is True is an equally accessible read for both the well catechized and the young faithful. Rose has produced an invaluable book full of Church history and teaching that will prove resourceful to cradle Catholics in reaffirming their faith, as well as sincere and earnest Protestants or nonbelievers who simply want to better understand the teachings of the Church.
They should be forewarned, however, that truth is compelling — and they will likely be won over.
Christopher White writes from New York.
IF PROTESTANTISM IS TRUE
The Reformation Meets Rome
By Devin Rose
Unitatis Books, 2011
To order: unitatisbooks.com