Here’s the Amazon link.

The author is Mark Shea, whom I find to be quite able at expressing complex ideas succinctly. I want to provide a brief excerpt, which, though long, perfectly sums up how I felt about the ancient Church after a similar study.

Modernism, as we recall, would have us believe that the Misunderstood Sage of Nazareth was both a profoundly wise rabbi and the dumbest cluck in human history. It proposes that a deeply spiritual man who saw through human souls like glass was incapable of noticing that his chosen disciples were people not even moderately competent at remembering a handful of his words and deeds. It also asserts that this devout Jew’s love of the one true God of Israel so inspired these witless witnesses with devotion to their Master that they ran off the instant he was dead to blaspheme all he held dear. Modernism asks us to swallow the notion that these paragons of stupidity remained as stupid as ever for the rest of their lives, yet nonetheless managed to construct a militant, well-organized, theologically-sophisticated community capable of disturbing the Roman peace within twenty years of its founding and noticeable enough to invite Neronian persecution within thirty years. This impressive church, says modernism, was set in motion by a Galilean enigma whose few garbled phrases the New Testament writers, in their intense devotion to his memory, cannot for the life of them remember or even paraphrase, much less understand.

But if it is preposterous to say the entire apostolic community could simultaneously be this stupid and this brilliant, this forgetful and this obsessed with tradition, this unimaginative and this capable of flamboyantly inflating a rabbi whom even they couldn’t remember into the Incarnate God of Israel, then how much more preposterous was my Pagan Creep theory? For it demanded I believe exactly the same thing of the apostles and their disciples. Indeed, it demanded that the apostles had to have been twelve times more grotesquely incompetent than the already fabulously incompetent Jesus of modernism. It meant believing that everywhere the apostles went they – all of them – appointed successors who perverted their teaching on a dozen subjects as badly as modernism said the apostles had perverted Christ’s. It meant that that for sixty years of blood, sweat, and toil, the apostles made thousands of disciples so stupid that they could not grasp the most elementary teachings of their faith. It meant believing that their churches – all of them in north, south, east and west – paganized Christianity (and paganized it everywhere in the same way) the instant the apostles died. It meant believing that these churches, together with their overseers who had been handpicked by the apostles, were constantly engaged in a schizophrenic campaign of deliberate pagan perversion of the Faith while simultaneously dying in droves for the purity of the Faith.

The book is short, well-written, and particularly excellent at expressing in clear language the thoughts and inclinations of many Evangelicals who find themselves drawn to the Catholic Church (or the Orthodox Church for that matter). Someone (I believe in the forward) said this was the spiritual sequel to Evangelical is Not Enough, by Thomas Howard. I credit that one book with breaking down several walls that existed between myself and ancient Christianity. After reading this book by Shea, I have to agree with the assessment. Highly recommended.

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