I saw your post on this in the other discussion. I’ll respond, I got this book shortly after it came out. Read the whole thing numerous times.
<< I would like to ask 1) What were your opinions of this book? >>
My review from Amazon from 1998:
A recent balanced treatment of the Roman Catholic and Evangelical-Protestant debate from an Evangelical (and “baptistic”) perspective, the book Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences (Baker Books, 1995) by Norm Geisler/Ralph MacKenzie should retire older (and recent) sensationalist anti-Catholic works (as noted by Catholic apologist James Akin on the back cover) but it may take a few years given the vastness of the Internet and the many misunderstandings of Catholicism in Protestant thinking (especially among the more anti-Catholic Fundamentalists/Evangelicals).
The book is divided into two major sections: (1) Agreements that Catholics and Evangelicals have with each other; and (2) the Differences that (some) Evangelical Protestants have with the Catholic Church.
I generally agree with the Agreements section and appreciate the authors fairness in the book. The use of terms can be confusing or perhaps even in error (e.g. the term “Augustinian” as a synonym for salvation by grace: Evangelicals will be shocked just how “Roman Catholic” St. Augustine really was once they study his actual writings). The topics in the Agreements section on the historic Catholic and Christian creeds, the Trinity and Christology, the Bible, salvation, and other doctrinal issues are well done. We Catholics and Evangelicals do have a lot in common.
I have differences over the Differences section but that is to be expected given I am a Catholic reader but have been a big Catholic fan of Norm Geisler’s work for many years. Some of his arguments against Catholic teaching in this second section are quite complex and I can’t hope to respond to them all in this short review but I can recommend recent books that address the major Evangelical objections to Catholic teaching found in the Differences section.
Generally the book is fair with its presentation of Catholic teaching but perhaps relies too heavily on one primary Catholic source: Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludwig Ott. The authors could have found more comprehensive books of Catholic apologetics to which to respond. Ott is very compact and does not present the strongest arguments that could be made for Catholic doctrine, although it is a classic text for showing the precise teaching of the Catholic Church and the development of dogma.
One major weakness in the book is its failure to deal with the early Fathers of the Church in any detail. It is a simple fact that the authors would disagree with those Fathers, Saints, and Doctors of Christianity for the first 1,500 years whether we are talking Baptism, Eucharist, a sacramental worldview, Church government and apostolic succession, and other quite clear Catholic teachings of the early Church.
Catholics acknowledge the development of doctrine (whether the Trinity, the canon of the Bible, the Sacraments, the Papacy) but for one to suggest the authors’ interpretation of the Biblical texts represent original and true Christianity is simply begging the question. On what basis should we take the authors’ doctrines as true?
I would recommend this book for any Catholic or Evangelical who wishes to investigate some of the better arguments against Catholicism and the areas of doctrinal agreement and common moral cause in this increasingly secular world.
For a complete biblical and historical response to the major issues in the Differences section, I would recommend two books edited by Robert Sungenis: Not By Scripture Alone and Not By Faith Alone (both Queenship Publishing, 1997) also available from Amazon.Com
<< 2) Would you recommend it to Catholics? >>
Yes, for those knowledgeable in the faith, even the critique section will be challenging for how informed evangelicals think. The book relies on James White’s old book Answers to Catholic Claims though, for its critique of the Papacy. :rolleyes:
<< 3) Would you recommend it to Protestants? >>
Somewhat, I’d rather give Protestants books that are pro-Catholic all the way through, like Alan Schreck Catholic And Christian, or Dave Armstrong’s Biblical Defense of Catholicism. But the first section of Geisler/MacKenzie book is fair to Catholic teaching, shows where Catholics and evangelicals agree. In fact its probably the best book on that subject.
<< 4) Would you recommend it to Orthodox Christians? >>
Sure, if an Orthodox wants to know what is the big debate between informed Catholics and informed evangelicals, its probably the best book laying out the agreements and differences. Otherwise an Orthodox can get the book The Quest for Unity: Orthodox and Catholics in Dialogue by John Borelli and John Erickson (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1996).