I do try to understand belief systems other than my own, and I don’t consider that I have succeeded until I can explain the system to one of its adherents, and he will agree that I have stated his beliefs accurately. I once tried to do this with Protestantism, writing a blog post on the difference between Catholic and Protestant theological concerns and trying to be equally respectful to both. The subsequent discussion with theologically astute Protestant bloggers Gerry Neal and Alan Roebuck made it clear that I had failed my test. I had not represented the Protestant view in a way that a Protestant would find adequate. I still don’t understand Protestantism.
But I would like to, and I’m willing to expend a little effort on it. What I am looking for is a book or essay, less than 300 pages (ideally much less), that explains the distinctive features of Protestant theology. It must not be aggressively anti-Catholic (although, of course, it will disagree with Catholicism in places), because making me defensive will defeat the point of the exercise. On the other hand, it must be written by a believing Protestant, because otherwise I won’t accept it as accurate. I promise that I am not using this study to look for weaknesses and compose an attack on anyone’s creed.
Given recent discussions, I would also welcome suggestions for a good book or essay on Mormonism. Again “good” means theologically sophisticated, sympathetic but not combative toward orthodoxy, and written by an actual Mormon.
And just for fun, I’ll throw this question open to everyone, including Catholics and Orthodox. Is there a good book on your church for the educated and curious but busy? If so, please give the title and author. If not, somebody should really get to work on that, don’t you think?