Concerning William Webster

The Question: I want to know about William Webster, as a Catholic I met at the Just for Catholics site had some very harsh words for his book, "The Roman Catholic Church at the bar of History" . He said it was inaccurate and that he went to the sources themselves (Catholic sources?) to see. I want to get the book and see for myself, but will see what you all say first.

My Response: Judging by my own experiences with those who would defend the Catholic Church, I would say that one quick way to judge the work of a Christian anti-Catholic polemist would be to measure the intensity of Catholic vituperation directed toward him and his work. The more Catholics rail against the guy, the more likely it is that he is hitting very close to home.

Another thing I have learned is that very few, if any, Catholic apologists are willing to acknowledge that holy mother Church is or has ever been in error in any matter. I dare say that, should the Apostle Paul himself be sent down from Heaven to declare God's truth before the Curia, that august body of heretics would condemn him as a liar. Then, of course, they would add that he does not understand Catholicism.

I don't know Bill Webster very well, having spoken with him by phone only a couple of times. However, I know David King, who collaborated with him on the three volume magnum opus Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, very well. David and I discussed his research for this work a number of times, and I am convinced of the accuracy and depth of his research. I cannot imagine David collaborating with anyone who did not match his zeal for the truth.

My friend, theologian and Christian educator James White, recommends the work of Webster. I consider this a testimonial to the trustworthiness of Webster's work.

I have two of Webster's books, The Church of Rome at the Bar of History and The Matthew 16 Controversy. I consider both works to be well researched and accurate examinations of doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.

I don't know whether your Catholic correspondent actually "went to the sources" as he claimed. Again, in my experience they usually don't, preferring to dash over to one of the multitude of Catholic web sites that offer canned responses to negative comments concerning favorite Catholic teachings or doings. The Catholic folks who write to me seem to prefer Keating's Catholic Answers site, which speaks volumes about their discernment. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the person you encountered actually did visit each of the multitude of sources Webster cites at the end of the book, I'd be willing to bet a dollar to a donut that she did not read the cited passage in context. That is not the Catholic way, it seems.

I hope the foregoing is of some use to you. Seeking third party opinions concerning controversial issues or writings has the potential for leading one to form inaccurate conclusions. As should be well known here, I can in no way be considered a friend of the Catholic Church. I consider myself a classical fundamentalist, which places me about as far from rapprochement with Rome as one can get. Given the foregoing, it should be anticipated that I will most likely stand opposed to the Catholic position on many issues. The person you spoke with, being Catholic, should be expected to discredit any work that finds fault with Catholicism. In the final analysis, you must exercise your own discernment after reading Webster's work and validating his documentation.

It should be considered necessary to measure the product of all theologians, Catholic or Christian, against the one infallible standard: The Sacred Scriptures. Any doctrine that fails the test of Scripture cannot be considered valid.

If you would like to taste Webster's work before buying or borrowing the book in question, I suggest you visit his Christian Resources website, where you may read some of Bill's sermons and download teachings in mp3 format.

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