40 Questions About Roman Catholicism
By Gregg R. Allison
Kregal Academic, 2021, 326 pp.
Is Roman Catholicism Christian? Such a question is repugnant to many evangelicals in this era of undiscerning pluralism. But how well do you really know Roman Catholicism and what it teaches?
In his previous book, “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment” (2014), evangelical theologian, Gregg Allison, posited that the Roman Catholic church operates according to two basic constructs:
- The Nature-Grace Interdependence, which claims the concrete conference of divine grace through nature, e.g., priests, water (baptism), oil (confirmation, last rites), laying of hands (ordination), bread (Jesus wafer), pilgrimage sites (healing), etc.
- The Christ-Church Interconnection, whereby the Catholic church presents itself as the prolongation of the incarnation of Christ.
In this outstanding new book, published as part of Kregal Academic’s “40 Questions” series, Allison examines most of the major Roman Catholic doctrines and how they align within the Nature-Grace and Christ-Church constructs. The Catholic view on a particular doctrine is presented quite objectively followed by a Protestant/Biblical response. I would have loved to have listed the titles of all forty chapters to give you an idea of the scope of this examination, but I realize that few would have labored through it. Suffice to say Allison addresses the major doctrinal differences between Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity, most importantly, the opposing views on justification (infusion of sacramental grace and meritorious obedience vs. the imputation of Christ’s perfect righteousness) and salvation (by sacramental grace and merit vs. by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone). Merit was unabashedly taught as a component of Catholicism’s salvation system back when I was a young Catholic parochial school student, but the term has fallen out of favor within RC-ism because of its blatant anti-Gospel connotations and has been replaced with such sophistical phrases as “cooperating with grace” and “maintaining friendship with God,” but Allison accurately identifies merit as the bottom line of RC soteriology.
I wish there was more historical context in this book, but I realize Allison is writing from a theologian’s perspective rather than a historian’s. Allison’s tone is irenic almost to a fault, which comports with his view that confrontational evangelism is not effective. Praise God for a book such as this in 2021 when ecumenism with Rome is rampant within big tent evangelicalism. Much thanks to Dr. Allison and Kregal Academic Publishing. I’ve reviewed over 120 books on Roman Catholicism over the last six years and this one is easily one of the best. Be forewarned that this book is aimed towards academics, it’s not a breezy read for the beach.
“40 Questions About Roman Catholicism” can be ordered from Amazon here.