Over the past 500 years since the Reformation much has been written and said about the differences between Catholic and Protestant theologies. In this new book, Roman Catholic Theology and Practice, Gregg Allison considers Catholic theology from an evangelical perspective and assessment. Typically when there has been writing in regards to critiquing the Catholic Church’s theology it has come from more of a negative perspective, and wanting to find what is different and wrong with Catholic theology. From the start, Allison is clear that while there are differences in theological perspectives between Catholics and Evangelicals, his approach is more wanting to find similarities while at the same time seeing the theological positions that are different and helping to better understand why evangelicals may not agree with that position.
Looking through an evangelical perspective and lens, Allison walks through the Catechism of the Catholic Church which “stands today as a faithful and systematic presentation of the teaching of the Church according to its threefold structure of authority, that is, written Scripture, the Tradition of the Church, and the Magisterium, or its teaching office” (Kindle Loc 1446). Allison divides the book up into three sections to consider these three areas of the catechism considering the profession of faith, the celebration of the church and the life of Christ. While I will not spend time here going through the sections of the book in depth, I do want to consider Allison’s approach in writing a book from an evangelical perspective on the Catholic Church.
I appreciate Allison’s approach from the start and throughout the book. He was very, very thorough in his analysis and review of the Catholic Church’s catechism, but at no point during the book did I feel that he was overly critical from a negative approach or simply just critiquing the Catholic Church to critique it. He offers a fair assessment that is genuinely critical in parts of where Catholics and Evangelicals disagree doctrinally, but I feel he did so with charity. Allison’s hope in this book was “not aim to be an anti-catholic diatribe, though the critique that is offered is both sustained and pointed” (Loc. 415). He doesn’t shy away from where Evangelicals and Catholics disagree but he does not go in the outwardly negative direction which has been overly written on and beaten dead in the reformed camp. Again, I appreciate Allison’s approach and careful critique to see where both denominations agree and where they differ, even if significantly.
If you are looking for an extremely thorough assessment of what Catholics believe and what their catechism says, I would highly recommend you grab Roman Catholic Theology and Practice. There has been much written on what catholics believe from a negative perspective in hopes of ‘proving them wrong’ but I feel strongly that Allison does not go this route and is professional and respectful even when holding firm on where Evangelicals and Catholics differ. Consider this book if you want a fair evangelical perspective on Catholic theology and practices.