We all have friends, co-workers, and family members whom we would love to welcome into the Catholic Church. And we all have those awkward and sometimes painful discussions with them, when contentious or controverted issues come up in conversation and we don't quite know what to say or how to say it.
Well, our good friend here in the Bubble, Devin Rose, has written a book that eases the way for us. Many of you already know and love him, and I've referenced and written about him many times in the past. He is, quite literally, one of the reasons I have a blog today.
Two years ago, I told you about his book, The Protestant's Dilemma (if you are a non-Catholic Christian, I cannot recommend this book highly enough!) and also linked his compelling appearance on the Journey Home, where he recounts his conversion story from atheist, to Protestant, to Catholic. He also has an important and effective program to help Catholic men fight the beast of porn addiction.
Now we can add his much-awaited Navigating the Tiber: How to Help Your Friends and Family Journey Toward the Catholic Faith, published by Catholic Answers.
I read the entire book, easily, in two nights. As I read, I became excited about how valuable it will be for the many readers who email to ask me the best way to reach their non-Catholic or anti-Catholic family members -- people who love Jesus Christ but do not understand, and in some cases despise, the Catholic Church.
I love this book because it is practical, clear, and systematic. With a clever mariner theme (we are navigating the Tiber River, after all, on our way to Rome!), Devin sets us on our journey by "surveying the depths" -- a short but excellent primer of the different Protestant branches and beliefs (so that we don't talk to a Baptist or a Pentecostal as if he were a Calvinist or a Lutheran, for example).
Then, Devin sails us through the common issues that are bound to surface when we talk to our Protestant friends, co-workers, and family members about the Faith: The question of the Canon of the Bible (which we recently touched upon here in the Bubble); the Protestant pillars of sola scriptura (the Bible alone) and sola fide (faith alone); the Protestant belief in perspicuity (the idea that the "plain meaning" of the Bible is "clear" to any Christian); whether salvation can be lost; the truths about baptism; the objections to the papacy, Mary, and the "pagan superstitions" of the mass.
Devin also sets straight the course regarding the Inquisition and the Crusades; guides us on when to introduce the Church Fathers (and also the actual beliefs of the Reformers!) to our friends; navigates the moral issues of divorce and contraception; shows us how to speak frankly about the priest scandals -- and much more.
He does all of this while giving real life examples of his own interactions with friends and co-workers over the years. There's nothing better than being able to "see" how all this goes down in real life. You'll be equipped on the most practical levels, including advice on timing, suggested reading, and end-of-chapter tips and summaries.
What I love the most, aside from the clarity and accessibility, is Devin's insistence and focus on the preservation and deepening of the relationship with the person we're engaging, even suggesting prayers that can be prayed together. Friendships should never be put in jeopardy just to score points in a debate, or to "win" a theological argument. If we approach our friends and family as if they were projects and not human beings with free will and inherent dignity, we push them further from the Church and harm the Body of Christ. And that makes us a jerk. No one likes a jerk, and jerks make terrible evangelists. :)
Thank you, Devin Rose, my friend, for pouring your heart and soul into another incredible book that every Catholic should have on his or her shelf!
And I don't think Devin would mind that I also ask for your prayers for his little daughter Josephine, who is undergoing cancer treatments. Thank you, dear readers, for your generous hearts!