Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Revisiting a Classic Catholic/Protestant Debate

In reading through an old list (1, maybe 2 years ago) of possible reading material, I came across this item I had copied from...well, from somewhere. It was a recommendation from Daniel C. Palm, an Associate Professor of Political Science out at Azusa Pacific University of William Chillingworth's The Religion of Protestants: A Safe Way to Salvation. A 17th Century work, it has been brought fairly up-to-date in language and typescript (1870) in a reprint available at Elibron for only $20.

Here was what Dr. Palm had to say,

Those tempted to convert to Catholicism because of the supposed superiority of the Catholic theological tradition would do well to read Chillingworth's once famous classic. Judging by its printing history, The Religion of Protestants was a steady best-seller for over 200 years.

The book is set up as a dialogue with a Catholic critic of Protestantism. In each chapter of the book, the Catholic critique is printed first; then Chillingworth follows with a powerful point-by-point refutation. All the major topics of the Catholic/Protestant debate, now mostly known only in superficial slogans, are covered.

Chillingworth was raised an Anglican. He converted to Catholicism and studied for four years at the Catholic university of Douai in France. In spite of this study, or perhaps because of it, he converted back to the Church of England, in which he became a priest.

Now, not having yet read the book, it's hard for me to say but... my guess is that The Religion of Protestants would make a great intellectual and spiritual excercise for 2007 -- whether you are Protestant or Catholic. Anyone interested?