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I would have loved to have had Jimmy Akin as my wingman in discussions with Protestants about Catholicism more times than I can count, but he is usually busy and, last I checked, hadn’t mastered the art of bilocation.
I was sitting at lunch one day with friends: one Catholic, two Protestants, and we were having a series of in-depth discussions about whether Catholicism was true or Protestantism was better. The debate ranged all over: justification, the canon of Scripture, sola scriptura, Bible interpretation, authority, perspicuity, Church Fathers, sacraments, and more.
My Catholic friend, George, asked me after each discussion how I decided to choose one topic over another, or use one argument to rebut a point versus a different one. We were able to talk one on one and I was able to mentor him in apologetics—not just the arguments but also the soft skills, the psychology, and how to connect one topic to another.
The discussion with our Protestant friends continued for months. Each time we gave them something to chew on. Eventually, one became Catholic!
I could sit next to George each week and do this but I couldn’t sit with all the other Catholics who have ever been in a discussion with Protestant friends and family, feeling stumped or confused or scared because the arguments their friends were making sounded so strong. So I decided to write a book that would help do that, and Navigating the Tiber was born.
Connecting the dots
This is the book I would give to any Catholic needing help in understanding Protestantism and helping their Protestant friends fairly consider the Catholic Church. It’s a guidebook that connects all the dots for you so that you can take the helm and confidently lead your Protestant friend into the Church’s arms. It takes you from defending your Faith to going on the offense and leading Protestants into Catholicism.
The Tiber River flows through Rome and has been something of an unruly watercourse in its history with the city. To “cross the Tiber” means to become Catholic.
This metaphor became the book’s overall narrative image. I am helping you navigate the waters of the Tiber with your friend so that they can cross over. There are swift currents, dangerous shoals, hidden rocks, sea serpents, enemy ships, and many more obstacles that they (and you) will face. The book guides you through it all.
How to fish
But a guidebook that simply gives you a fish is of limited usefulness, so instead, the book teaches you how to fish. Take a topic that comes up in Catholic-Protestant discussion like the Crusades. It would take an entire book to cover the Crusades in any depth. In fact, such books exist, and a recent one by historian Steve Weidenkopf is one of the best: The Glory of the Crusades.
So my chapter on handling the Crusades in dialogue with your Protestant friend focuses on the core points you need to know, summarized in just a few pages, while pointing you to Weidenkopf’s book in case you need to go deeper.
Sola scriptura—“the Bible alone”—is a central difference between Protestants and Catholics. I take apart the sola and the scriptura part in a few chapters but then direct you to Dave Armstrong’s handy tome, 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura, if you need more ammunition or the discussion gets into greater depth.
Several times in the book I give you an answer but then tell you how to search for that answer yourself—what sites to go to, which phrases to Google—in order to find answers to more questions that I don’t cover.
Navigating the Tiber covers the wide spectrum of topics that come up in discussion with Protestants, so for each one I give you a way to go deeper into the waters if need be:
- Justification: The Drama of Salvation by Jimmy Akin
- Perspicuity of the Scriptures: The Catholic Controversy by St. Francis de Sales
- The Church Fathers and Early Church: Handed Down by James Papandrea
- Conversion and Interesting Protestants: Surprised by Truth by Patrick Madrid
- The Pope Problem: The Eternal City by Taylor Marshall
- Marian discussion: Behold Your Mother by Tim Staples
- The liturgy/Mass: A Biblical Walk Through the Mass by Ed Sri
- Eternal security/losing salvation: What Must I Do to Be Saved by Marcus Grodi
- Protestants and Apostasy Theories: The Apostasy That Wasn’t by Rod Bennett
- The final steps of conversion and afterwards: Filling Our Father’s House by Shaun McAfee
I recommend these and several other books throughout the guide, helping you to know when you need to avail yourself of more information, depending on the particular Protestant you are speaking with and where the discussion is going.
I wrote Navigating the Tiber because I always wanted a book that I could hand to a fellow Catholic who is in dialogue with a Protestant, confident it would give him all that he needed to help his friend cross the Tiber. Now that it is out, I encourage you to put out into the deep for a catch! I’m excited to see how you use it in your discussions with your Protestant friends.
By Devin Rose