Mainline Protestants would find this book extremely offensive. It is intellectually dishonest and largely misrepresents current Roman Catholic thought, nor does it embrace accepted biblical scholarship which is shared by both mainline Protestants and Catholic exegetes.
I read this book back when I was "saved" and leaving my Catholic Faith to become an evangelical. I was in the Southern Baptist Church for over 4 years, went on missions, tithed, served faithfully, and when I moved towns I was forced to go through the common protestant practice of "church shopping." After attending a slough of churches for various times I began wrestling with the issue of authority, and I saw the great error in the protestant church: lack of authority? The root of many of the logical absurdities, and perpetual schisms that protestantism often breeds come from its origin to "protest" or rebel. The problem with this book is that it perpetuates convenient half truths and outright miscaracterizations of the Catholic faith, rendering it intellectually dishonest at best, and malicious at worst. Don't be lazy. Research the Catholic faith, the origins of the Church, the origins of the Bible, the early church fathers and their writings. You will be surprised at what you find.
My experience with this book is an ironic one. I was an Evangelical Christian committed to the ideals spelled out by Rhodes here. In fact, I used it to "evangelize" Catholics and share the gospel with them. As I began to research the history of the faith, and the Church in particular, and the relation of Sacred Scripture to the People of God, my thinking began to change. Rhodes book became for me my last lifeline. I tried desperately to cling to my Evangelicalism, as slowly but surely each and every page of this book melted away in the face of the Ancient faith professed long before Luther and Calvin. I would invite you all to look over the wall of the Reformation, and past 1517. The Church predates the Reformation by 1500 years. Is there anyone bearing witness so-called Protestant ideals before 1517? It almost seems as though Rhodes would have Christ be the foolish builder in His own parable...
Dr. Rhodes has written an accurate and readable work on Romanism. As a recovering Catha-holic, I see this as a useful resource for Christians to better understand their Catholic friends and to minister the true Gospel of Christ.
Rome's contention that it "gave" us the Bible is fallacious. Examples include:
- "Rome gave us the Bible"
- Old Testament - do they really believe that Jesus did not know what was in the O.T.? ("From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berekiah" - Luke 11:51) Jesus lived before Jamnia Council, FYI.
- Apocrypha - Also, what about fact that none of the faithful Jewish rabbis or early Christian recognized the Apocrypha as part of the Bible? (Rome does and needs it to justify its bizarre doctrines like purgatory and masses for dead. Plus these books are inferior and even contradict the true Scriptures.)
- New Testament - How could Rome "give" us the Scriptures when it could not even agree which books belonged to it (and changed its mind through decades and centuries)?! Revelation, Hebrews, and 2 Peter come to mind. Plus Rome also accepts Gnostic writings as "sacred tradition" - books which are frauds and contradict God's Word.
- "Rome is the early church." - Much of the historical record on the church has been repressed by Rome/Constantinople. Yet, we do find some fragments about Biblical Christians who rejected Roman autocracy such as the Paulicians, Waldenses, Albigenses, and the movement of Patrick of Ireland (btw, he was not Catholic or even Irish, contrary to the history Rome would have you believe). Additionally, 250 years (from time of apostles to Edict of Nantes) is a long time for corruption and sin to taint the official "church" - just read the Book of Judges where it only took 1-2 generations (less than 80 years) before Israel was turning back to idolatry.
May the Lord be glorified in opening the eyes of people to the true Gospel of Christ through His grace alone through faith alone. (Eph. 2:8-9)