Letters Between a Catholic and an Evangelical
By Fr. John R. Waiss and James G. McCarthy
Harvest House Publishers, 2003, 432 pages
In this intriguing book, Catholic priest, John Waiss, and Evangelical minister, James McCarthy, discuss the major differences between Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity. The topics examined include God’s Word, authority, justification, the Lord’s supper, and Mary and the saints. Both authors present their viewpoints clearly, fairly, and charitably. Waiss and McCarthy are personal friends and the exchange is marked by mutual respect and irenicity.
Most books, films, and television programs that we consume end with some type of resolution. Good defeats evil. An agreement or understanding between parties is reached. But not with this book. At the end of the dialogue Waiss and McCarthy remain firmly divided in their understanding of the Gospel. For Evangelicals the Gospel is the Good News of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. For Catholics the gospel is the sacramental grace administered by the church, which either wipes away the stain of sin or helps the participant to obey the Law so that they can avoid sin and merit salvation.
There is no bridging the two positions. Only one can be right. Evangelicals wonder, “Why don’t Catholics understand the Gospel? Saving faith in Christ is so simple. Even a child can understand.” But the unsaved cannot understand salvation by grace through faith on their own. It’s the Holy Spirit Who reveals the Gospel.
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” – 1 Corinthians 2:14
I strongly recommend this book to Evangelicals for a clarification of Catholic doctrine. There’s far too many Evangelicals walking around these days saying, “Oh, Catholics love Jesus, too. Close enough!”
McCarthy has authored several publications which examine Catholicism including, “The Gospel According to Rome,” “Roman Catholicism: What You Need to Know,” “What Every Catholic Should Ask,” and “Talking With Catholic Friends and Family.” All are available from Amazon.com. Visit McCarthy’s web site here.