Devin Rose has crafted a worthy follow up to his exceptional book The Protestant’s Dilemma. A convert himself, Devin takes readers on a guided conversation with one of your Protestant friends that serves as an aid in the sometimes contentious debates that can occur. The books title is Navigating the Tiber: How to Help Your Friends and Family Journey Toward the Catholic Faithand it is a worthy addition to anyone’s library.
First an explanation of the title. Often times the conversion process is referred to as “crossing the Tiber.” I crossed the Tiber myself in 1996 and Devin did as well in 2001. The reason is Rome sits along the Tiber river. So in essence, conversion is a symbolic crossing from the opposite side of the Tiber over to the Rome side of the Tiber. The process isn’t always easy and is often filled with inner struggles when trying to accept some Catholic teachings, and must include some welcoming friends to help guide one in the journey.
You can be those friends and this book will be your guide. There is a right way and a wrong way to go about this. We must remember that the transition one goes through when leaving Protestantism to Catholicism is not easy. It takes a gentle hand and an understanding heart to lead your friends and family to the Catholic faith and Devin gives us the tools to do so. “Before we begin, understand that it is not enough just to learn apologetics and lay them on your friends. Much more is required, beginning at the human level with friendship. If you are not first and foremost a friend, then no amount of brilliant apologetics will help you.”
One area I personally found interesting and useful was The first chapter that gives a complete breakdown of the vast oceans of beliefs that are out there. Take a quick poll of your friends and you will easily see that this is true. Evangelical, Baptist, Pentecostal, Calvinist, Lutheran, United Church of Christ, Methodist, and the list goes on and on. Heading into conversation on religious beliefs is a lot easier when one knows where their friend is coming from and this chapter does an exceptional job providing a brief synopsis of each.
Upon setting the experience, providing assurances that one can successfully help a friend convert, and giving tips to avoid a downward spiral into conflict; Devin launches into the real meat and potatoes of the book. He covers a myriad of potential topics that may arise. The book is divided into three parts.
Part 1: Setting Sail covers issues like the canon of scripture, sola scriptura (the belief in the Bible alone and no tradition), apostolic succession, and sola fide (justification through faith alone).
Part 2: Making Headway tackles some deeper issues such as perspicuity as championed by Martin Luther, introducing the Church Fathers (an absolute favorite topic of mine, to know the Church Fathers is to cease to be Protestant), and understanding the influence of the Reformers on your friends’ beliefs.
Part 3: Surviving the Rapids brings you into the homestretch with some of the most difficult Catholic viewpoints including the papacy, the importance of Mary, the Crusades as well as contraception and divorce.
You’ve spent months and perhaps years planting the seeds and watering them. If you have successfully laid out the truths of the Catholic faith you will be bringing the ship into harbor. Your friend has navigated the waters of the Tiber and though at some points the water was rough they have set anchor on the opposite shore and are ready to disembark for Rome. If you have made it this far than the end is near and, hopefully, you will be soon welcoming your friend into the Catholic Church with open arms. We can thank Devin Rose for your success and the gift he has given the Church with this book. Praise be to God!