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A review of Rome, Sweet Home by: Robert M. Zins

Light, breezy, sincere, winsome, and sprinkled with arsenic might best describe this emotional autobiography, Rome, Sweet Home, co-authored by Schott and Kimberly Hahn. Written in a down-home folksy way, this little book is going to be very popular, and herein lays the danger. Scott Hahn is a former pastor/teacher of a Presbyterian Church (PCA) who graduated from an evangelical Bible College and Seminary. He and his wife, Kimberly, have since defected into the Roman Catholic religion. Their journey to Rome is chronicled for us in Rome, Sweet Home.

To begin, we find Hahn's use of Scripture and the corresponding theology which emerges as nothing more than warmed-over Roman Catholicism. We search in vain for new insights as to why the Roman Catholic religion would be reconsidered as anything other than a non-Christian religion. Instead, we get the same old same old! Roman Catholicism is a religion in need of biblical justification. The Hahns have only dragged out of the closet the wrinkled bag of Catholic tricks consisting of smoke, mirrors, tap dance shoes, and a little sleight of hand when it comes to biblical theology. The Hahns come to us equipped with an arsenal of quantum leaps and an array of fantastic conclusions all presented in a "neat-o", "keen-o", "by golly" sort of way. But, while they are upbeat, the substance is still classic Rome! For instance, consider this on Rome's sacrament of baptism:

"Of course, back in the Old Testament, the sign of entering God's covenant was circumcision; whereas Christ changed it to baptism in the New Testament."1
In the above comment, Hahn leaves out the dogma of ex opera operato which is the Catholic teaching that the sacraments, in this case baptism, actually bring about the things they signify. Catholic baptism is said to bring about justification and union with Christ by virtue of the mysterious efficacy of the sacrament when performed by a priest. This idea was historically refuted as non biblical and continues to be refuted by biblical exegesis today.

This is but one example of misleading through assuming a conclusion without recourse to points of theology and sound biblical exegesis. Every conclusion is taken for granted using the Catholic methodology of traditional teachings of the Roman religion. In many instances, we are left only with bottom line statements void of even the Catholic steps listed to arrive at such conclusions. Hahn does not attempt to prove how circumcision was replaced by baptism which in turn becomes ex opera operato in the hands of a priest. There is no reasoned argument. There is no discussion. There is simply a fait accompli!

Like many Romanist apologists, the Hahns simply say it is so and that is that. Can you hear the "old" dogma of Roman transubstantiation in the Hahn's typically dramatic prose?

"Day after day, witnessing the entire drama of the Mass, I saw the covenant renewed right before my eyes. I knew Christ wanted me to receive Him in faith, not just spirituality in my heart, but physically as well: onto my tongue, down my throat and into my whole body and soul. This was what the Incarnation was all about. This was the gospel in its fullness."2
Transubstantiation is found nowhere except in the imagination of Roman Catholic theologians. It is their fanciful attempt to take John 6 overly literally. It fits into the overall system of Rome which has invented an infusionary understanding of grace for a meritorious justification. This term, first used in the 4th Lateran Council in 1215, has no biblical or historical testimony. Hahn sees what he wants to see!

Plunging further headlong into the murky waters of Romanism, Hahn soon discovers that the Reformers had missed it when it comes to how a man is justified:

"In fact, I discovered that no where in Scripture did Saint Paul ever teach that we were justified by faith alone! Sola Fide was unscriptural!"3
This of course is a stab in the heart of all Reformation theology. Indeed, all Protestant denominations owe their foundation to the men of the Reformation who gave their lives to preach and defend the gospel of justification by faith apart from works performed in anyone's religious system. This "moment of truth" for Hahn is spelled H-E-R-E-S-Y in the annals of Protestant history. It is a denial of the very nature of the purpose and application of Christ's atoning work.

The Hahns have many "moment of truth" episodes in their journey to Rome. Perhaps the most interesting is their struggle over the origin of the Bible. While a Bible college professor, Hahn was asked, "where does the Bible teach that Scripture alone is our sole authority?" Hahn can only report that he "broke into a cold sweat." By his own testimony this question "had never occurred to me."4 In the end, Hahn submits his reasoning to the speculation of Rome. He concludes, along with his inquiring student, that

"…Jesus wasn't condemning all tradition in Matthew 15 but rather corrupt tradition. When 2 Timothy 3:16 says 'all Scripture,' it doesn't say that 'only Scripture' is profitable. Prayer, evangelizing and many other things are also essential."5
We find it peculiar how this basic question could have eluded anyone who prides himself in his quest for truth, much less a college Bible teacher. We find it equally odd that anyone could accept the above conclusions uncritically. Hahn never bothers to ask how the Roman Catholic religion knows that Jesus was really approving something called "good" traditions while scolding the Pharisees for holding to the "traditions of men."

Neither does he ask why we should put "profitable" things, such as prayer and evangelizing on the same level as inspiration. Nor does he ever ask to see the "little book" of apostolic traditions which the Roman Catholic religion alleges to have played such a big part in the development of the early Church. We find ourselves breaking out in a cold sweat wondering at the gaps in Hahn's education.

Ultimately, the Hahns swim the Tiber to Rome and conclude that the Roman Catholic religion gave us our Bible. This of course is never explained or reasoned through for the reader. We are taken on an emotional whirlwind of more dramatic "truth points" in the Hahn conversions. On their way they have to negotiate the "roadblocks to Rome" given to us from the biblical exegesis of those who sought to reform Rome in the early centuries.

We lament this autobiography of Scott and Kimberly Hahn. They are not following the Word of the Lord. They are not obeying the will of God. They are utterly denying the gospel of Jesus Christ. They have substituted the religion of Rome for the gospel of the grace of Christ. Laced within the convincing style of their book is the deadly poison of a false hope and a false gospel.

We are saddened that this young couple has turned their backs on the faith once delivered. We urge all of you to be aware of how subtle the lie can be and how beautifully packaged is the serpent!

[1]Rome Sweet Home, pg. 16

[2]Ibid, pg.88

[3]Ibid, pg.88

[4]Ibid, pg.88

[5]Ibid, pg.88

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