Mark P. Shea, senior content editor for "Catholic Exchange," is a popular writer and speaker. He is the author of several books, including "The Work of Mercy: Being the Hands and Heart of Christ" and the acclaimed "Mary, Mother of the Son" trilogy. He is a regular contributor to "National Catholic Register" and a frequent guest on EWTN and Catholic radio. He lives in Mountlake Terrace, Washington, with his wife and four sons.
Reviews - What do customers think about By What Authority?: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition?
Better double check your authority Dec 25, 2007
Looks like "By What Authority?" needs to be better answered. So let's give it a try. These were comments made for one particular reviewer, but I thought they applied as well to the book in question. So here goes:
It is sad that Romanists claim to follow tradition, but can't from true history, see how far they have separated themselves from the true Church and Body of Jesus Christ. Romanists continually banter that the cart (their man-made doctrines and traditions) came before the Word of God. Jesus Christ, the true Head of the Church, warned us about traditions, "Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition." Mark 7:9. The Apostle Paul also warned us about the dangers of traditions, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Col 2:8. Further, we have been warned from no less Apostle, than Peter himself, about what dangers would creep into the Church, "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2Peter 2:1. Now who do you think are these false teachers? And what are these damnable heresies? And who are they that deny the Lord Jesus Christ that ransomed them by paying the penalty of death? They are none other than the Popes, the very leaders of the Romanists, that we have been so carefully warned to watch out for and guard against. But the Romanist will say, impossible, we have kept the faith pure, and stayed on the path with our traditions to prove it. They blindly plow ahead and jump the tracks never seeing that they are blind and have "ship-wrecked" the faith. By What Authority? Let me clearly give you the answer: by the authority of men who claim power that was never given. Want the proof? You can read the Bible, but that's not good enough for Romanists, who claim to have invented it! So what and where can we go to prove this point? How about a Bishop of Rome from way back in 600 AD... good old Pope Gregory the Great. Let's see what Gregory has to say about taking power and claiming to be a Bishop above all bishops while being, "under none and to be alone above all". Pope Gregory writes that such a person is like Satan wanting to be above all the angels. Pope Gregory begins with this admonishment to Bishop John for seeking such a position, "But, with what daring or with what swelling of pride I know not, you have attempted to seize upon a new name, whereby the hearts of all your brethern [fellow bishops] might have come to take offence... despising thy brethern, to covet to be named the only Bishop [Bishop above all bishops]." The particular name was that of "Universal" which every Pope since Pope Gregory has been quick to claim. But such a position of authority was rejected as false and condemned by Gregory who writes further, "If then he [St. Paul] shunned the subjecting of members of Christ partially to certain heads, as if beside Christ, though this were to the Apostles themselves, what wilt thou say to Christ, who is head of the Universal Church, in the scutiny of the last judgement, having attempted to put all his members under thyself by the appelation of Universal Bishop?" Pope Gregory compares a mere man wanting to put all Christ's members under himself as imitating the very devil, Satan himself. Pope Gregory writes, "Who, I ask, is proposed for imitation in this wrongful title [Universal] but he who, despising the legions of angels constituted socially with himself, attempted to start up to an eminence of singularity, that he might seem to be under none and to be alone above all?" Of course these are the long chain of Popes that follow Pope Gregory the Great and have claimed to be Supreme Pontiffs and condemn to hell those that don't follow there man-made doctrine of infallability and buckle up to their usurped authority. St. Gregory gives the truth to the Catholic history that no prior bishop had every claimed to be over all the Church, as he summarizes, "And, to bind all together in a short girth of speech, the saints under grace, all these making up the Lord's Body, were constituted members of the Church, and not one of them has wished himself to be called Universal [Bishop over all bishops].
It can be stated for certain that the many Romanists that support "By What Authority?" don't know what the "authority" of Pope Gregory the Great taught, professed, and practiced. Pope Gregory knew the dangers of claiming to be "under none and alone above all". He rejected such a position and told us the truth that no previous bishop had every claimed such a distinction all the way back to Peter. Read his owns words, "Was it not the case, as your Fraternity knows, that the prelates of this Apostolic See, which by the providence of God I serve, had the honour offered them of being called Universal, by the venerable Council of Chalcedon. But not one of them has ever wished to be called by such a title, or seized upon this ill-advised name, lest if, in virtue of the rank of PONTIFICATE, he took to himself THE GLORY OF SINULARITY, he might seem to have denied to all his brethern [emphasis added]." Epistle XVIII.
Not only do these Popes, after St. Gregory, claim to be above all, but they boast that they are to be judged by no man. However, true Christians hold fast to the Word of God and have not forgotten these instructions, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." 1 John 4:1. We know that all Popes are wrong by forbidding Bishops to marry, and for claiming any Mass is beneficial as a propitiation for sin. How do we know this? Because we test false prophets with the Word of God and don't automatically believe any spirit, tradition, or man that claims differently from the earliest of Apostolic teachings. We are told in Hebrews the truth regarding propitiaion for sin. That there is only one sacrifice that is counted to please God and it was performed once by Jesus Christ and cannot be duplicated. As it is written, "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others, for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world... But this man, after he had offered ONE SACRIFICE FOR SINS FOR EVERY, sat down on the right hand of God... For by ONE OFFERING he hath perfected for ever them that are sactified... Now where remission of these is, THERE IS NO MORE OFFERING FOR SIN. [emphasis added]. Hebrews 9:24-26, 10:12, 14, and 18. The point being is that the Mass is useless as any offering for sin, because Christ made one perfect sacrifice and nothing more is needed. Thus, when the Pope and his puppets continue to try an appease God with their own rendition of some unbloody sacrifice it is nothing more than an abomination to the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Gordon A. Stamper
Love of scripture leads to love of tradition Dec 19, 2007
Through personal testimony and train of thought, Mr. Shea takes us down the trail he followed from his evangelical beginnings to an acceptance of sacred tradition. Many have followed the trail before but, to my knowledge, Mr. Shea is the first to have recorded the train of reasoning so clearly. Like a wise and gentle teacher Mr. Shea does not frighten or cajole but leads with example and understanding. It is a touching story but one that will challenge and instruct at the same time. Without sacred tradition, the underpinnings of a canon of scripture are pulled from under us. It is only in sacred tradition that we can find stability and certainty in faith. Mr. Shea avoids insulting his Evangelical friends, in fact, he speaks with great pathos for the debt he owes to the love for sacred scripture that began with them. And, in the end, it was that love for scripture that led to his love for sacred tradition.
You will find it difficult to put down and difficult to ignore.
Why do you believe the bible, anyway? Aug 5, 2007
This book in defense of the role of true Christian authority is in my mind one of the best out there. Starting with a very clear and sympathetic synopsis of the evangelical/ fundamentalist (and, alas, modern Lutheran) approach to the authority of the bible, Shea masterfully demonstrates why that bucket just doesn't hold water. And this is based upon his own spiritual journey, which adds to its readability. I find it hard to believe that someone can prayerfully read it with an open mind and come away confirmed in the belief that sola scritpura (bible only theology) is logically, functionally or even scripturally true. I don't write that as a bash against anyone, just as an observation. I have given this book to at least a dozen of my Protestant acquaintances and friends for almost 10 years and none of them could afterwards say with conviction that Shea's argument was false and that their previous understanding was totally true. Not all of them have abandoned their beliefs, but they have all modified them to take into account at least the role that the Church played in formulating the New Testament.
And for the record, before anyone dismisses this review as Roman propaganda, I am Eastern Orthodox (former Lutheran M.S.). It's just a great little book.
Also check out This Is My Body: An Evangelical Discovers The Real Presence, Common Ground: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity for the American Christian, Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians", and Mother Church
Not such an easy read.... Jun 12, 2007
I bought this book because of all the wonderful reviews about it here on this site. I found it a difficult read. Not because it was technical, or overly spiritual, but it was dry and repetitive. Obviously many other reviewers don't share my view point on this. This book does hammer home the point that Tradition is not a dirty word and that every stripe of Christian observes some form of Sacred Tradition. I would not recommend this book to my Protestant friends simply because it is so dry and slow moving.
Difficult to Refute Apr 2, 2007
An easy to read and cogent defense of Tradition. A must read for any Christian in search of the roots of faith.