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By What Authority? An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition
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By What Authority? An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  343 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Where does the Catholic Church get the right to tell its members how to live? A former evangelical Protestant looks at the real intent of Tradition.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 28th 1996 by Our Sunday Visitor (first published September 1st 1996)
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Patrick O'Hannigan
May 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
Mark Shea used to think that the sole criterion for religious truth was to hold anything being disputed up to the question, "Is this Biblical?" In this intellectual memoir, he describes how and why his criterion changed over time, so that the key question for him eventually became, "Is this Apostolic?"

Shea writes with an enthusiasm that I liked very much, seizing late in the narrative on metaphors to say that "Tradition is the lens that focuses the light of Scripture," and then "Scripture and
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The book that started this whole crazy Catholic thing in my life :-)
John Walker
Before reading Mark Shea’s sprightful little book, ByWhat Authority? An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition, I was not a Catholic. But now, having read it… Well, I’m still not a Catholic.

But, I do think Shea still accomplished a noble task. As is clear, it was not necessarily persuasive as an apologia for Rome, but it was certainly helpful as a window into Rome. For Protestants who have never questioned the Solas of the Reformation, or can’t conceive why anyone would ever want to “worship
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: apologetics
This was a well written and documented examination of some pretty old myths about the Catholic Church. Because he had personally held these myths to be true it was very interesting to see the path he followed in reaching closure on these topics.

I finished the book believing that the most vivid message for all Christians (Catholic & Non-Catholic) was to study the early fathers of the church.

I enjoyed the recounting of Mr. Shea’s faith journey. The amount of intellectual effort he invested was
Richard Jones
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
A good, popular critique of Sola Scriptura and presentation of the Catholic view of Sacred Tradition. Shea writes very well and in a way that communicates clearly to Protestants. A really good place to start thinking about a serious issue.
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I can't believe that this is the first Mark Shea book that I have ever read. I've read a lot of apologetics books over the last 10 years. This one has always been on my radar but I never got around to reading it. Now I've been a big fan of Mr. Shea's blog for as long as I remember. It is one of few blogs that I follow daily.

Perhaps I was over saturated with apologetics. Each new book pretty much outlined the same arguments in doctrine by doctrine basis. This got tired for a while.

Another reason
May 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I thought Mark Shea made a fairly good case for his switch to Catholicism, even though it didn't convince me. :-) I do think it's a huge wake up call to many (most?) Protestant churches that we're not doing a very good job of discipleship and education. I find it terribly sad that his original church had no answers for him when he came to them with his questions. I feel there are still major flaws in his reasoning for converting, but I can identify with him on some ...more
Aug 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's a very engaging read. Shea pulls you in and makes you interested in the theological and historical cliff-hangers in what could have been a dry polemic. He organizes his non-linear, subjective mental/spiritual journey in a very logical and easy-to-follow order.

The main argument of the book is that in order to defeat modernist attacks on Christianity from the likes of the Jesus Seminar, he found his Evangelical Sola Scriptura an insufficient foundation from which to do so. Gradually pulling
May 29, 2009 rated it liked it
This book is an easy read but still includes enough "meat" to satisfy those really trying to gain a better understanding of the issue. The author was an evangelical protestant who began an inquiry in response to the "modernist" perspective proposed by The Jesus Seminar*, and found that his evangelical "scripture alone" approach wasn't adequate to refute those arguments. At the end of his study he was convinced of the importance of tradition along with the Bible as a complete version of what's ...more
Jenna St Hilaire
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Straightforward, well-put explanation of the process of discovering the authority of Sacred Tradition. Shea focuses on the fact that the shift from evangelical to Catholic is an act of fulfillment, not of renunciation. I'm tempted to give it five stars for that alone, and am only marking it down from there at all because it didn't otherwise say a lot that seemed new to me--but then, I've made that shift. For those curious or in the consideration process, it should be a good read.
Daniel Lower
Nov 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
I am not sure if Shea has totally dispensed with all possible criticisms of this book (most especially, I'm not sure if quite every spin on sola scriptura succumbs equally to his criticisms.) However, I think that for the light reader as well as for more educated ones, it serves as a solid example of a Catholic argument against the notion of sola scriptura and against the exclusion of tradition as a mode of authority.
Jan 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Felt like it started out a little slow building a foundation that didn't seem to apply to the general subject. Although after the first chapter or so it became a lot more focused. A great explanation of the myths and need for a proper understanding of the history of the authority of scriptures and the Catholic Church.
Feb 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: catholic
Started out slow and I am not sure the beginning really related to the rest of the book. There is some good stuff in here, but a few leaps in logic. I should have read this when I first entered the Catholic Church; it's not meaty enough for my current tastes.
Jul 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I read this book over the weekend. I actually bought this from the author and got him to autograph it! Anyway, I found it fascinating and I absolutely love his witty, hard punching but clear writing style. He really makes the subject matter easy to understand.
Mar 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Has the strengths and weqknessss of a popular style: entertaining but sometimes imprecise, etc. but it improves once he gets past the Jesus Seminar. I'll be rereading the central chapters.
May 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Some obvious flaws, but on the whole some good points. I wondered why the author didn't consider Orthodoxy as a viable option?
William F
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Teaches Christian Tradition
Sep 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Pretty good, but there are better books and articles on the internet on this subject.
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book explains why tradition is essential to the Christian faith. On the way, the author covers a lot of important related topics, such as:
-The modernist quest to find “the historical Jesus”
-Evidence for the resurrection & divinity of Christ
-The historical reliability of the Bible
-The canon of Scripture
-Early Church history

The book is well written, funny, and accessible. A must read for any Christian seeking to understand how we got the Bible; how we can know that the right books made it
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
A helpful book; however, he doesn't do justice to the Reformed view of Scripture. He only addresses liberalism and fundamentalists/charismatics. I want to see the catholic response to John Frame, John Calvin, etc. (not being arrogant, I'm genuinely interested). If anyone can recommend resources, please do.
Pablo  Rodriguez
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A really good look at the role of Tradition as a basis for the Christian faith. The author knows both the Catholic and evangelical branches of the faith really well. The book is well-reasoned and clearly written. It only fails a bit when dealing with later tack-ons to the teachings of the church (such as the infallibility of the pope).
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I don't like the author personally. I think he's a jerk online. The book however is quite good.
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was very challenging to my (former) Evangelical world view. On my way to full communion with the Catholic Church, it helped me to see the validity of Tradition in our Christian faith.
Oct 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating account of a Protestant Christian coming to the realization that Louis Bouyer succinctly describes in his book The Word, Church and Sacraments in Protestantism and Catholicism: the core insights of Protestantism can only be maintained in the context of the Catholic Church.

In reaction against a destructive, anti-biblical modernist critique, Mark Shea begins to build a response, which ultimately leads him to realize one step at a time that the very authority of Scripture
Christopher Metzger
Dec 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is about an intellectual spiritual journey in which the born-again author undertakes to not undermine Roman / Orthodox Christianity but to counter the positions held by certain modern forms of Protestant theology.

Strangely, it leads him back to the patristic fathers of the Church and turns sola scriptura on its head.

Fun little book for me. My Protestant friends warily finger the cover but will not open it when they see it prominently on the coffee table.
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a conversion story based on research and great knowledge of the bible (we Catholics should follow the example of our Protestants brothers and sisters). I'm sure there were struggles, doubts, tears and fears but this book is not about that but where, what and how in the history of Christianity Mr Shea found the answer to his question. At the end of the book there are resources Mr. Shea used, a few which I plan to read.
Apr 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
I would rate it 4.5 actually, maybe 5. David Currie's Born Fundamentalist Born Again Catholic is still my favorite, but this one is #2, may become #1 idk. I want to retread this soon, take notes and be as prepared as Mr. Shea is to defend the truth I've found in the Catholic Church.
Kevin Heldt
May 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Shea did a nice job with this book. It starts in an unexpected way, belaboring the problems of the Jesus Seminar types but he ends up making compelling connections between any system of that type and the fundamental Protestant approach as a whole.
Dec 26, 2014 rated it liked it
I was looking to better understand why the Catholic Church elevates tradition to the same level as scripture, and this book provides a logically reasoned explanation of that and more from the perspective of a former evangelical.
K Kriesel
Aug 04, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: religion
Shea criticizes so many people in this book, I can't help but wonder how little faith he has in his own words
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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is the Mary, Mother of the Son trilogy (Catholic Answers). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register and his regular feature on Mark is known nationally for his one minute “ ...more