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Crossing the Tiber: Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historical Church [Paperback]

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Item Number 126538  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   284
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.5" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 1997
Publisher   Ignatius Press
ISBN  0898705770  
EAN  9780898705775  
UPC  008987057703  

Availability  10 units.
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Item Description...
In this book, with no rancor toward his Evangelical roots, Ray shares with the reader their exhilarating discoveries. He traces their initial hostility toward the Catholic Church, their passionate research and the discovery of the historical Church, quietly waiting to be rediscovered. He convincingly lays out the issues that carried them over the "uncrossable chasm" into the Catholic Church. Thoroughly documented with over 400 footnotes, Crossing the Tiber contains an extensive compilation of biblical and patristic quotations and commentary on the issues of Baptism and the Eucharist, as well as a thorough analysis of Sola Scriptura and Tradition.

Publishers Description
An exhilarating conversion story of a devout Baptist who relates how he overcame his hostility to the Catholic Church by a combination of serious Bible study and vast research of the writings of the early Church Fathers. In addition to a moving account of their conversion that caused Ray and his wife to "cross the Tiber" to Rome, he offers an in-depth treatment of Baptism and the Eucharist in Scripture and the ancient Church. Thoroughly documented with hundreds of footnotes, this contains perhaps the most complete compilation of biblical and patristic quotations and commentary available on Baptism and the Eucharist, as well as a detailed analysis of Sola Scriptura and Tradition.

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More About Stephen K. Ray

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Stephen K. Ray currently resides in Milan, in the state of Michigan.

Stephen K. Ray has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Modern Apologetics Library

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
I Can't Cross, but...  May 26, 2008
"Crossing the Tiber: Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historic Church" by Stephen K. Ray is a fascinating and infuriating read. It is fascinating because it is the testimony of an "evangelical protestant" and their conversion to the Roman Catholic Church, but it is equally infuriating because much of the content is confusing or misleading.

The book is divided into three sections. The first is called "Crossing the Tiber", which recounts the journey of Stephen and his wife to the Roman Catholic Church. The last two are related to sacramentology: "Baptism in the Scriptures and in the Ancient Church" and "The Eucharist in the Scriptures and in the Ancient Church." Minimal review is needed of the later two sections because they are pretty straightforward and I would say worth the price of the book. They consist of a collection of a Scripture verses and quotes from the Early Church Father that seek to demonstrate the sacramental nature of the baptism and the Eucharist/Lord's Supper. This is essential reading to Protestants because they are oft confused on the sacraments, including the Catholic position, and in their historical understanding of these issues, including seeing the Scriptures through the lens of a Roman Catholic and why and how they arrive at their views. I am very sympathetic to his understanding of the sacraments, although maybe needing nuancing, but these two sections are a great one-stop treatment of the sacraments both Biblically and historically. As any good Augustinian would say, tolle lege.

The first section, despite being intriguing & fascinating, is infuriating, because, although he regularly claims that Protestants have represented "bogeymen" of Roman Catholicism, I think he is guilty of a something quite similar of Protestants. First, too much of the book is in the footnotes. Other reviewers say "read the footnotes" and with them I agree, but the footnotes aren't really footnotes. In most instances, they seem part and parcel of his argument and should be in the body of the book. Second, it needs to be pointed out that Mr. Ray comes from a particular brand of "Protestantism"/"Evangelicalism" known as fundamentalism. He acknowledges that he was a fundamentalist and states that it "believes in the sole sufficiency of the Bible, the imminent rapture, eternal security, blood atonement, the invisible unity of the Church, denominationalism and so on." Yet, on the same page, he treats Lutheranism, which do not hold to the above doctrines (at least in the same `spirit' or understanding as fundamentalists), and Reformed (at least those that hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith) as fundamentalists. Yet, in most instances, if you talk to those of these camps that actually know their beliefs, then they would distance themselves from fundamentalism, which as he appropriately points out is a response a response to modernism. He also provides in a footnote the fact that the WCF holds/held to idea that the Pope is the anti-christ, yet, except for a very small minority, this has been reformed in most bodies that use the WCF. On the next page, discussing Luther's "new ideas", he says, "Christ completed the work of atonement, and the Judge of the universe makes a legal declaration that those who simply believe and `accept Christ as their personal Lord & Savior' will be eternally justified." Yet, this might be his experience in fundamentalism, but this is not Luther or Lutheranism, especially if one considers the Book of Concord. This is the sort of "bogeyman" he laments Protestants use in their attacks on Rome & that he was a part of, but it is unfortunate that he continues in this vain. These sorts of errors could be multiplied, but that is flavor of what one encounters in the book, but won't be satisfactory to those that know history, including the "historical protestant church". If, as a Christian, my options were fundamentalism, including solo Scriptura (opposed to sola Scriptura), then I would by on a raft over the Tiber or breaking out the compass to Constantinople.

Yet, despite this type of complaint, I am sympathetic to elements within his story and find myself on a similar trajectory, although, because I find that the Reformed Church, which sought to reform the Church and not restore the church (he seems to suggest that protestants are more akin to restorationist theology rather than reformers and, unfortunately, many branches are), solves most of his complaints I don't see a need to cross the Tiber myself or find my way to Constantinople.

Finally, even though the book is directed at Protestants, Mr. Ray's decision to join Rome opposed to Constantinople is extremely dissatisfying. He gives a lengthy quote from Thomas Howard and prefaces it with "when we first read the postscript to Evangelical is Not Enough, we considered it something of a weak sidestep, an attempt to avoid the issues in a tough, having struggled with the same decisions, Janet and I acknowledge and accept the wisdom of his words." Yet, in the quote, Mr. Howard admits that "on this point [Rome or Constantinople] I must dodge behind a manifestly flimsy shield". Just as Mr. Ray claims that "sola Scriptura" doesn't work, since you have two groups (perhaps more) claiming "and tradition", then an individual is still left deciding what Church to go with. This indeed is a manifestly flimsy shield.
This is a good work for Protestants to read, especially fundamentalists, because it will bring greater clarity to the issues at hand and let them know that many within Rome, even those that took the Road to Rome, do indeed love Jesus Christ, trusting in him alone for salvation & that many of the complaints are in fact bogeyman. A Protestant that does not know his history will be greatly challenged, even those that do will be as well, but hopefully this book will help Christians understand each other a little better, so when we confess that we believe in "one holy catholic and apostolic church" that we better understand what we mean and this book will help that.
Join the exodus leaving Protestantism!  Mar 21, 2008
I thought I was part of a vast wave of Of "Born-Again" souls when I became a Christian. I thought the Catholic Church was old, stale, lackluster and for old mindless minions of Rome.

The Holy Spirit took the scales off my eyes and I joined in the exodus of souls returning home to Christs Catholic Church, His visible body on earth. This book aided me in overcoming the lies I had been told about Catholics whilst I was a Protestant. It aided me in knowing the difficulties with family and friends and pursecution I would suffer for the truth in Christs words and my desire to obey His word - not mine or my preachers word or wahtever we believed in that day or that church. As a Protestant, my beliefs just drifted in the wind. They went wherever the wind blew them.

God and His Word never change. That makes it old fashined. Mordern reinvention of His word is manmade. I chose to come home to Rome because it stays loyal to God and His Word without changing it or morphing it. Heaven is not a democracy.

I used to pick churches based on location or size or the stage show or a dynamic preacher. Now I pick a Church because it is the one the Christ founded , preserved and continues to protect. A Church that gave us the Bible and preserves and protects His Word in its origional unchanged meaning.

If your open to the truth, read this book.
Falls at the starting gate  Mar 10, 2008
One might expect a book which wanted to preach the superiority of Roman Catholicism, especially if it had scholarly pretensions, would at least want to be accurate. In this case, however, your expectations would be confounded.

As early as page 15 (the first page of the main text) the author writes in a footnote:

"the tradition and succession left by the apostles were the source of unity and theological orthodoxy CENTURIES before the canon of the New Testament was established."
("centuries" is in capital letters for emphasis - not in the original text)

This is a not very subtle covert claim that the establishment of the Roman Catholic church pre-dates the establishment of the New Testament as we now have it.
This would obviously be a major factor in establishing Roman Catholicism as "the one true church" - if it were true. Only it isn't true.

In fact the canon of what became the New Testament developed quite quickly, as the various books appeared. One of the primary guiding lights of the process being a division between those texts which were perceived to be based on the experiences of the actual followers of Jesus, and later texts which couldn't possibly have been produced by eye witnesses, and which in many cases flatly contradicted what was already known about Jesus Christ's life and teaching.

From this perspective, the first Council of Nicea (325 A.D.), which this author presumably believes *created* the New Testament canon, actually only confirmed the canon which had already been in existence for a couple of hundred years or more.

Not a good start for someone claiming an indepth knowledge of "church history" :(

But there's worse to come.

In a footnote on page 23 we read "The Westminster Confession of Faith states that the pope is 'that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition ...'"

So, noticing that the quote uses the word "states" (present tense), if you went into a Protestant church today and the congregation spoke the Westminster Confession of Faith they would thus insult the pope. Right?
No. Absolutely WRONG.

Firstly the Westminster Confession is a feature of the Presbytarian church - it is NOT common to ALL Christians.

Moreover, the author is quoting from a book printed back in 1931.

The question, then, is: What is this author's purpose in repeating this highly contentious piece of text?

Is he really unaware that the Presbytarian Church in America revised the Westminster Confession over twenty years ago (1983), at which time they REMOVED the reference to the pope?

If he doesn't know, it doesn't say much for his research.
And if he does know, why does he present the information in a way that seems to imply that this version of the Confession were the *current* version?

Next, in a footnote on page 24 the author claims that Martin Luther added the word "alone" to Romans 3:28 - to make it read "by faith alone" - and that:

"This has become part of the Protestant tradition, an example of how Protestants have added to the word of God 'Protestant traditions' that conflict with other truths that the Bible teaches ..."

And just in case we missed the point, the author comes back to it only a couple of pages later:

"As a Fundamentalist I was quick to accuse the Catholic [sic] Church of teaching what I perceived as a 'gospel of works' and not the true gospel of 'faith alone'."
(page 26)

Reading those comments one might surely be forgiven for assuming that if you picked up a "protestant" Bible today you would find that Romans 3:28 does indeed include the word "alone". But you wouldn't.

In the NIV translation (copyright 1978) the passage reads:

"... a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law."

And the same passage in the 17th century KJV reads:

"... a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law."

Where, then, is this alleged rewriting of the passage, following from Luther's first German translation of The Old and New Testaments in 1534; this alleged adding to God's word in conflict with the truths of The Bible?

NOT in translations of The Bible today! In fact NOT in a translation of The Bible over 300 years old!

So why did this author feel it necessary to make this claim in such a misleading way?

If he had been a life long Roman Catholic we might suppose that he was simply ignorant of the facts. But he wasn't. He was raised a Baptist and was at one time a Bible Studies teacher in an evangelical church (according to the back cover blurb). How, with that background, could he be unaware that Luther's editing did not survive?

And what does this say about the rest of the author's much vaunted "studies"?

BTW, I've made three references to the footnotes in this book - simply because, for some totally incomprehensible reason, a very large portion of the text is quite needlessly shunted off to the bottom of the corresponding page. For example:

Main text:

"I want to challenge reality, ask questions, and find answers; I want to know and understand."

This sentence ends with a reference to a footnote:

"I remember lying in the grass as a young boy, looking up at the clouds with my dad. I asked Dad if there was a 'real' reality, or if this was all just a dream or creation of our imagination."

So, what was the point of shunting this folksy little tale off to the bottom of the page, thus breaking the reader's concentration?

If it was worth including at all, why not include it in the main text, where it would have fitted comfortably?
And if it wasn't important enough to appear in the main text, why include it at all?

This book is yet more evidence that this site should allow a zero rating.
Backed up by the Bible  Mar 5, 2008
This is an excellent book, written by Protestants who, through their thorough Bible knowledge were led back home--(kicking and screaming at times!)--into the Catholic Faith. This story chronicles their gradual realization of the Fullness of Truth in the Church and her claims, as supported by Holy Scripture.

Warning: Read with your Bible and pen and paper handy! You WILL want to cross reference and take notes. It also provides many excellent Scripture references for several of the major points of Catholic Apologetics.

A relentless search for truth whereever it leads  Feb 14, 2008
Steve had a problem. He knew Jesus was for real but he was beginning to find that his presuppositions about the church were not. This is the story of how he fought against the Tiber tide until he could fight no longer and gave in to that which he had persecuted for so long. ("Crossing the Tiber" or "Swimming the Tiber" is popular Catholic convert slang referring to the Tiber river in Rome with regard to joining the Roman Catholic church.) Steve is one of many Protestants who had realized their one defining principle was that they were not Catholic. Their search for the roots of their faith led them to see the internal contradictions in the Protestant worldview and the discoveries were frightening and life-altering. Steve was goaded on to the deep Tiber waters by his loving wife and it is clear that the changes have been a spiritual empowerment in their family.

With extensive footnotes that do not distract from the primary text, Steve relays their story as he first wrote it down for friends and family. It is a heartfelt and appealing story that makes us want to join in the journey with them. The journey ends with their somewhat hesitant realization that Jesus was alive and well in the Catholic church they had distrusted. It was a conversion not far from that of the Apostle Paul in realizing the one whom they persecuted was calling them to His family.

The brief overview of the Ray family conversion is just the beginning. Steve adds to that story an historical, scriptural, and enlightening study of Baptism and then of the Eucharist. Each of the three sections could stand alone in scope and depth of study, especially in light of the extensive footnotes and references. It is a conversion story that packs a theological wallop without skipping a beat. Emotionally and intellectually challenging and inspiring at the same time. You will not easily dismiss this incredible treatise of faith.

Write your own review about Crossing the Tiber: Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historical Church

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