I wrote the following for our most recent academic catalog.
Can you tell me who wrote this?
“Protestants need good reasons not to be Catholic. Catholicism is the Western default position. If you do not regard the great confessions and catechisms of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as being biblical in their teaching on justification, then you should probably do the decent thing and become a Catholic. The implications your position has for Scripture’s teaching, for church history, and for notions of authority, makes such a move a good one. Converting to Catholicism is not a crime, after all.”
I’ll begin by letting you know it was not a Catholic who wrote it but one who describes himself as a “committed, passionate Protestant.” The author of this quote is Carl R. Trueman. He is professor of historical theology and church history at Westminster Theological Seminary. You don’t need to agree with Trueman but he at least recognizes that Protestants can learn a great deal from Catholicism. In the same essay as the above quote is found he writes, “Catholicism has produced the most stimulating literary figures of the Christian tradition, broadly considered.” He lists G.K. Chesterton, Graham Greene, Walker Percy, Flannery O’Conner, Evelyn Waugh, Shakespeare (though he acknowledges there is a debate on the issue) and Tolkien. He further lists Catholic theologians which he says “Protestants should be familiar with.” These include Thomas Aquinas who he describes as “without doubt the single most important intellectual source for pre-Vatican II Catholicism, but also partly because his writings represent a classic statement and defense of some basic doctrines that, say, Catholicism and Reformed Protestants hold in common.” He goes so far as to say that for him to “understand the mind of the great Puritan I first had to understand the mind of the Angelic Doctor.” After Aquinas he mentions Blaise Pascal, John Henry Newman, Etienne Gilson, Brian Davies and Thomas Weinandy. He continues, “I have for many years preferred to read the latest thoughtful Catholic writers than their often all-too-superficial evangelical contemporaries.” Even with this high regard for these Catholic writers Trueman is decidedly Protestant and lists some areas of disagreement that exist between Protestants and Catholics.
I’m quoting from Trueman because I continue to encounter fellow Protestants who think there is nothing we can learn from Catholicism, not to mention Easter Orthodoxy. If there is any learning to be done, these Protestants think, it is a one way street from us to them. Baker Book House is proud to serve and provide literature for the entire Christian community: Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox. We can learn from each other. Let the conversation continue and let us learn from each other through healthy debate and dialogue.
You can find quotes from Trueman in either his book Fools Rush in Where Monkeys Fear to Tread (pp. 145-58) or from the blog posts where they originally appeared. See here for part 1 and here for part 2.
Fools Rush in Where Monkeys Fear to Tread is from P&R Publishing. It is a paperback with 355 pages and sells for $14.99. You can read chapter one here.