Book Review: “The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God”

The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God515ATJpZDDL__UY250_

by James G. McCarthy

Harvest House, 1995, 408 pgs.

The Gospel According to Rome is a well-researched, well-written comparison of Catholic theology with Scripture. McCarthy, an Evangelical Christian and ex-Catholic, uses Catholicism’s own source material including its official 1995 Catechism to present the church’s position on various doctrinal issues and then responds with counter-arguments using relevant passages from the Bible.

Of course the main issue of disagreement between Catholics and Evangelicals is salvation. Is one saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ and His once-for-all propitiatory sacrifice as Evangelicals believe or does salvation come from the Catholic Church through the dispensation of its sacraments? A Christian rests securely in Christ’s perfect atonement while a Catholic believes their salvation will ultimately depend on how well they “cooperate with grace” and obey church rules and the Ten Commandments. Is that “Good News”? A person who adheres to a legal system like Catholicism could never possibly justify their standing before a Holy God according to how well they obey His commandments. The law teaches us we are all sinners (Galatians 3:24) and that we all need a Redeemer; justification doesn’t come from trying to obey the law. Christ came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15-17) NOT the self-righteous. Jesus Christ has made complete and final atonement for us but we need to accept Him as our Savior. Pride in their religious system and its traditions prevents many Catholics from accepting Christ.

The following books were also written by McCarthy and published by Harvest House. They’re available through

*Roman Catholicism: What You Need to Know (Quick Reference Guides) (1995)
*What Every Catholic Should Ask (1999)
*Letters Between a Catholic and an Evangelical (2003)
*Talking with Catholic Friends and Family (2005)

6 thoughts on “Book Review: “The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God”

  1. sdcharg,

    As a convert from Protestant (theologically-speaking) Christianity to Catholic Christianity, I’m curious to know what book you feel does the best job of disproving Catholicism. Is it this one? Although I’m very familiar with the typical anti-Catholic arguments, I figure that one of these days I should read one of the books too. Ideally, I’ve been hoping to get a Protestant to read a Catholic book in exchange, but the Protestants I know seem afraid to read any Catholic book…. which is understandable. I became Catholic partially as a result of setting aside my perceptions of Catholicism and honestly considering the Catholic perspective as explained by knowledgeable Catholics. But anyway, I’m not afraid to hear the best anti-Catholic arguments. If you think this book is the best, maybe I’ll check it out.

    If I did read this book, I would probably follow it up with “The Gospel According to James McCarthy: a Catholic Answer to James McCarthy’s ‘The Gospel According to Rome'” by Gary Michuta.

    God bless.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ben, Yes, “The Gospel According to Rome” is very well done. As long as you’re reading that book I would also recommend “Letters Between a Catholic and an Evangelical,” which McCarthy co-wrote with Catholic priest, John Waiss, a lively exchange that presents both viewpoints quite fairly.

      No need to accuse anyone of cowardice or ignorant sectarianism. I make it a point to stay current with Catholic beliefs. I listen to Catholic apologetics radio for at least an hour every day and read Catholic articles quite often. I regularly consult the Catholic catechisms on my bookshelf (I never know when I might need to reference things like what the church used to teach about limbo), read Catholic books every now and then, and even subscribe to the local diocesan newspaper. I would guess that I know more about the Catholic church than 95% of Catholics, maybe more. That’s not a prideful boast but an assessment based on personal experience of the extremely low level of knowledge of the average “cultural” Catholic who sleeps in on Sundays as well as the average Catholic in the pew regarding their church.

      As for the “courage” to explore different viewpoints, I think Catholicism was and is FAR AND AWAY more restrictive, controlling, and fearful than anything seen in Evangelicalism. The Index of Forbidden Books was still in force when I was a child. Many Catholics are still reluctant to read any religious book unless it has an imprimatur. In 1966 when I was serving as an altar boy our parish priest let me know how disappointed he was that our family had attended my cousin’s wedding – at a Lutheran church. Prior to Vatican II it was a “mortal” sin for a Catholic to attend a Protestant service or read a religious book written by a Protestant. The rules were relaxed somewhat at Vatican II (although someone forgot to tell our parish priest) but what about all those who had broken the rules and died prior to that council? Did they receive a “Get out of jail free” card from pope John 23 or are they still in Hell?

      Thank God for salvation by grace through faith in Jesus ALONE!


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