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Preface to Protestants and Catholicism

This workbook has been developed at the request of the Evangelism Task Force of CAM International. The task force met in April 1995 in Guatemala and storyboarded responses to the question, “What can CAM do to stimulate powerfully effective evangelism in CAM fields?” A workbook aimed at giving a better understanding of Post Vatican II Catholicism became an action item out of that meeting.

I initially accepted the task of preparing this workbook with some apprehension. There is no Roman Catholicism in my past experience, and I had only studied Catholicism briefly in a single course at Dallas Theological Seminary. This was hardly the background needed to provide expert guidance in such a complex subject.

My inexperience with Catholicism, however, soon gave me the guiding principle for this workbook. If I was going to write on Catholicism, integrity (and horse sense!) demanded that I gain as thorough an understanding as possible. I wanted to present Catholicism fairly. I didn’t want to be a Catholic basher! What this meant for me was that I wouldn’t learn Catholicism through the minds of Protestant writers, at least initially. Instead, I had to understand Catholic theology from Catholic documents and Catholic theologians. That, I believed, would make the work objective. As I began to prepare the workbook I determined to give you, the user, the same experience--to learn Catholicism from the Catholics themselves.

Part one of the workbook, then, amounts to a guided tour of what I think are the crucial elements of Catholic theology. The chapters are made up primarily of snippets from the new Catechism and Vatican II documents. The questions following each section are designed to help you interact with the Catholic content. Analysis and comparison with the Scriptures will cement your understanding of Catholicism, and will better inform you to minister to Catholics. Part two follows a similar format, but the focus is on contemporary issues related to Catholicism.

To become an effective speaker, Dale Carnegie advised, “Talk about something that you know and know that you know.” Our goal, of course, is not to speak to Catholics about Catholicism. But if we know Catholicism and know that we know Catholicism, then we are both equipped and confident to lead a Catholic to the Scriptures for a life-changing experience!

I challenge you to work carefully and prayerfully through the pages which follow. I believe you’ll be glad you did!

May God bless your study as He did mine.

Shawn Farneman
April 1996

Related Topics: Reformation, Catholicism