Due to my misfortune yesterday with my tire, this morning I was back at the car place, getting the tire fixed and having the mechanic redo the lug nuts, which were excessively tight. So I spent another morning lounging at the bookstore, over coffee and a roll (sigh!). This morning, after reading the paper, I picked up a book called Systematic Theology by Dr. Wayne Gruden (click on headline for particulars).
This is a 1994 book, and as I suspected, it serves as a textbook in Protestant seminaries (see reviews at Amazon, where posters say they used it as such). I find it worthwhile to see how Evangelicals "do" theology.
I won't attempt to evaluate how well Dr. Grudem tackles specifically Evangelical and Reformed topics, which clearly was his focus. But of course I was interested in (a) how he handles specifically Catholic matters and (b) how he might tap into Catholic sources for areas of agreement.
I am sorry to report that I found little of the latter; very little mention or citation of specifically Catholic material came except where he found fault with it, although he did make a point to say he would reference, in each chapter where possible, two Catholic treatments of the subjects.
As far as his treatment of areas of disagreement, I think Dr. Grudem should be embarrassed. If he was going to deal with Catholic teachings, he ought to do a better job.
His choices of Catholic sources were curious, although not indefensible. For "traditional," he cited Ludwig Ott; for "since Vatican II," he cited Richard McBrien. Now, I don't recall just when McBrien's Catholicism was deemed unacceptable by the bishops, so Dr. Grudem may not have been aware of that. Only Father McBrien's most extreme critics would say he doesn't get everything right; indeed, it was a couple of key areas where he fell short, suggesting the rest of his work was competent (I don't use McBrien; why should I?). Also, in fairness to Dr. Grudem, the Catechism of the Catholic Church was just then coming out, so he may not have realized what a goldmine that would have been, or had access to it in English.
I won't quarrel with citing Ott, although I am not very familiar with him, I know that he enjoys a good reputation; he wrote his work in German, however, and translations naturally vary.
What is puzzling, of course, for a Catholic is why so slender a selection of Catholic sources? I can sympathize with Dr. Grudem, or anyone in his position, trying to decide what Catholic sources to consult! He wasn't presenting a Catholic systematic theology; but by his own admission, he said the reason he included Catholic sources at all was because of how influential Catholic teaching is! (Now there's an understatement vis-a-vis Christian theology!) For example: Aquinas does not appear in his index!
Then, it dawned on me: each of the "schools" or "traditions" he cited, with sources, represents a movement identified with either one, principal figure, or a handful: Calvinism, Lutheranism, Dispensationalism, Pentecostalism (the possible exception would be Anglicanism, but even there, that's a much narrower movement, in terms of its specifically Anglican content).
But even that isn't the worst of it; Dr. Grudem proceeds to embarrass himself in how he deals with those specifically Catholic issues.
He talks about the questions of the canon of Scripture, without noting the evidence of what the Church in Rome, and the Churches of North Africa, had to say on the subject in the late 300s; nor does he note what J.I. Packer noted in his The New Testament Documents: Are they Reliable?" -- that the early Church so made the Greek Old Testament (which contained the OT books disputed by Protestants) its own, that the Jews of the time adopted a new canon in distinction from that of the Christians!
His treatment of Catholic understanding of justification and grace isn't too bad; he repeats the canard about the grace of Christ not being sufficient (why can't someone of his learning understand that Catholics teach and believe that anything that happens in a Catholic's life, to help his salvation, is a fruit of Christ's coming, dying, and rising for our salvation? There is no other source but Christ!), and he repeats the canard about the Mass "repeating" Christ's sacrifice, even after he quotes Ott saying the Mass is "identical with" Christ's sacrifice! His most embarrassing error comes in treating venial and mortal sin: he actually claims mortal sins are those which can't be forgiven!
It is discouraging to think that many Evangelical pastors' understanding of Catholic teaching relies on something like this. It shouldn't in any case; but I rather suspect it does. After all, the book is called Systematic Theology.