The Protestant's Dilemma: How the Reformation's Shocking Consequences Point to the Truth of Catholicism Paperback – Feb 27 2014
|New from||Used from|
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Now, under the title of The Protestant’s Dilemma and published through Catholic Answers press, the book has been remarkably changed and improved. In my opinion, The Protestant’s Dilemma is a triumph for both Devin Rose and Catholic Answers Press, and a real tribute to the power of a publishing team’s direction compared to the limits of self-publishing.
So what’s changed? A lot. For those who haven’t read the original book, the concept behind If Protestantism is True was to take the many presuppositions of Protestantism, such as “God just wants us to live by the Bible alone,” and to expose how fallacious those statements are in light of church history, the Bible, and logic. This is a must for conversations with Protestants who perhaps have never met a Catholic well-versed in the Bible or church history, and think the Catholic system of Mary and statues is silly and the Protestant one built on solid rock.
In The Protestant’s Dilemma, many original arguments are deleted, reworked, expanded, collapsed–honestly it felt like I was reading an entirely different book. The new insights into Martin Luther and the early Protestant Reformer’s writings and thoughts were perhaps the most noticeable and helpful, and it’s probably these sections that I’ll read again soon–I hadn’t seen this research in other books.
The overall structure of the book, though, is what moved The Protestant’s Dilemma from “good” to “buying this for friends with questions.” Structure matters, readability matters, and, at the suggestion of Catholic Answers, Devin added three subheadings to every chapter. “If Protestantism is true” lays out the fallacies, “Because Catholicism is true” demonstrates the consistency of Catholic thought, and “The Protestant’s dilemma” wraps up each chapter with the problem presented. It’s easier to read than before, more accessible than before, and more people and parishes will benefit as a result.
D-Rose has written a good book, and I highly recommend it.
Rose asks readers to consider what it means if the Reformers were correct in their removal of seven books (Sirach, Wisdom, Baruch, Judith, 1 & 2 Maccabees, Tobit,) from the Old Testament. First Rose calls attention to the historical fact that the seven books in question were part of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the OT used by the apostles and quoted throughout the New Testament. He goes on to discuss how the Jewish canon (list of books recognized as inspired), appealed to as authoritative by the Reformers, was not settled upon until the end of the first century, if not later. The Christian Church, however, had always used a Bible containing the works rejected by the Reformers, reading them at the Sunday liturgy and quoting from them in her teaching. Rose then asks readers to come to grips with what the Reformers' rejection of these books means:
"If Protestantism is true, then for 1500 years all of Christianity used an Old Testament that contained seven fully disposable, possibly deceptive books that God did not inspire. He did, however, allow the early Church to designate these books as Sacred Scripture and derive false teachings such as purgatory from their contents. Eventually, God's chosen Reformer, Martin Luther, was able to straighten out this tragic error, even though his similar abridgement of the New Testament [his attempt to remove James, Jude, Hebrews, and Revelation] was a mistake." (p.74)
Put in those terms, one can understand the title of this book. Unbeknownst to them, sincere Christians, born into communities stemming from the Reformers, have either a) been wrongly deprived of seven books of Holy Scripture; or b) the Holy Spirit allowed the apostles and the entire Church to use a defective Bible and be deceived. It was Rose's realization that (b) was unthinkable for an orthodox Christian, and (a) matched the details of history, that moved him to the Catholic acceptance of these seven books. And that acceptance enriched his experience of Christ!
In the course of just over 200 pages Rose repeats this thought exercise for 33 other points of contention between the Protestant Reformers and the Catholic Church - the papacy, ecumenical councils, the Scripture and Tradition, infant baptism, baptismal regeneration, marriage as a sacrament, the Eucharist, etc., etc. He continually and successfully shows readers the way out of the dilemma - the Catholic Faith, a seamless garment of Scripture and reason, consonant with the facts of history. And while doing this he maintains a sincere charity toward the Protestant Christian of today; his tone is never one of condescension or triumphalism. Rather, his purpose is to unite brothers and sisters in the visible unity for which Jesus prayed at the Last Supper. My hat is off to Mr. Rose!
In 34 brief, but meaty chapters, the author starts with a section entitled “If Protestantism Is True” and proceeds to show the absurd or contradictory and false results that ensue if one follows a key tenet of Protestantism through to its logical implications and conclusions. Next, in a section entitled “Because Catholicism is True” he shows how the Catholic position makes sense, dissolves the absurd dilemma, and is grounded not only in sound reason, but in Scripture, as well as in sacred Tradition and the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium. Finally, to end each chapter, the author encapsulates the arguments in a pithy, one paragraph summary, quite fittingly for this book, labeled “The Protestant Dilemma.”
The overall structure of the book is divided into four parts on “The Church of Christ,” “The Bible and Tradition,” “The Sacraments,” and “Christian History and Practice.” Every topic is considered very thoughtfully and presented very clearly. As I read through the chapters I came across some interesting information about Protestantism that I had not fully realized, for example, in chapter 14 on “Misinterpreting the Great Commission.” I came across chapters with themes especially dear to me, for example, chapter 16 on “The Role of History and Tradition,” and found that the author had done a wonderful job of explaining the issue’s importance to a full understanding of what it is to be a Christian and to follow Christ. Other chapters, such as chapters 27 on “Sexual Morality,” and 28 on “Other Moral Issues,” bring home the fact that the issues in this book are no mere abstract, academic theological debates, but interpretations of Christ’s message that hit us where we live, with profound impact for better or for worse on the fate of our souls, of our families, of the born and the unborn, and of the culture at large.
Overall then, I have no hesitation in recommending this book to all apologists, and to all Christians, be they Protestant or Catholic. (Indeed, I don’t see why Orthodox, Coptic, or other Christians might not find plenty of value to ponder here as well.) St. Peter famously advised us to be ready to defend the hope that is in us in a gentle and reverent way. Devin Rose has heeded his advice in a truly remarkable way. Whether or not to read this book should produce no dilemma.
All this may seem like overstatement — the obligatory praise from one Catholic blogger to another. But it is not.
Consider first the range of issues this book takes up. There are thirty-six chapters, each one on a different topic, from the papacy to sola scriptura, from the canon of the Bible to Purgatory, from confession to Eucharist to infant baptism. If something about the Catholic Church troubles you, this book has the answer. If you think you have found the point on which Catholicism fails, this book will show you why it is one more point upon which Protestantism fails.
Consider also the brevity. The book is just over 200 pages long, which means that Mr. Rose’s answers get to the root of the question without a knot of academic detail. It is harder to do than it might seem. This is the book of a man who has spent a long time studying the questions that divide Protestants and Catholics, and who knows how to present his case in a way that is easy for anyone to understand. At the same time, the book is useful for the professional apologist, for it recalls his mind to the basics.
Mr. Rose’s signature style is to take what Protestants claim and follow it through to its logical conclusion. By doing so, he reveals to the reader those consequences that apologists seldom want to admit, or even flat-out deny. On top of that, in each chapter Mr. Rose uses antithesis in order to prove the Catholic claim. Thus each one is divided into two sections: (1) If Protestantism is true, then x; (2) Because Catholicism is true, then y. At the end, y always looks to be the better of the two.
As one example of this, we should look at how Mr. Rose handles the question of authority in a chapter of less than six pages. Authority may be the one thing that most divides Catholics from Protestants. The Protestant looks to the Bible alone to tell him what is true. The Catholic looks to both the Bible and the teaching of the Church.
“If Protestantism is true,” chapter 12 begins, “we all decide for ourselves what God’s revelation means.” No Protestant will want to admit this. We do not decide for ourselves, he would say; the Bible is our guide. We are bound by what it says. But in one paragraph—one paragraph, think about that! — Mr. Rose shows why such a claim is false in practice:
"If, as Protestants believe, the Bible is the sole infallible rule of faith, God must have ensured that its meaning, at least on issues essential to salvation, would be clear to any Christian who reads it. He could not have allowed the Bible to be mysterious, obscure, or even slightly vague — even to people who weren’t fluent in Greek or Hebrew. This clarity would ensure unity of doctrine among all Bible-believing Christians throughout time. As we have seen, though, such unity does not exist. This is because, in the absence of an interpreting authority, every person is left to decide Scripture’s meaning for himself."
The Westminster Confession of Faith speaks of the “perspicuity” of Scripture, which means that the Bible is clear to any who take it up. If any one passage is not clear, related passages will clear it up for us. But to show why this is false, Mr. Rose cites two verses from 1 John. On the surface, they seem to be at odds with each other; he uses them to show why the Protestant is ultimately left to himself to decide how to reconcile them.
1 John 1:8 says that if we have no sin we deceive ourselves; but 1 John 3:6 says that if we remain in Christ we do not sin. Does that mean that no one remains in Christ? The Westminster formula can not tell us how to square the two. Each of us must make up his own answer. The chapter continues: "Because Catholicism is true, the Bible was not intended to be studied in isolation from the Apostolic Tradition and apart from the teaching authority of Christ’s Church."
Mr. Rose shows how Catholic tradition — in particular, the distinction between mortal and venial sin — helps to explain the two passages in a way that does not leave each of us to his own fallible authority, and which maintains the unity of the faith and the unity of the body as Christ intended. Christ did not mean to leave us to our own flawed intellect. He did not abandon us to division.
I wish I had had this book three years ago when I was on my way home to the Catholic Church. I had to piece together the proofs of Catholic teaching from a variety of sources, but Mr. Rose’s book contains all the issues that I struggled with in a single place. Moreover, it has the great strength of following Protestant claims to their logical consequences. It does not merely show why Catholicism is true, but also why Protestantism can not be true.
If you are a Protestant, and thinking about coming home to the Catholic Church; or, if you are a Catholic who wants to understand better how to defend your faith to your Protestant friends, then you must get this book and read this book today.
This book is at the "light" end of the spectrum measuring in-depth discussion of the topics. Yaroslav Pelikan's The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine" (5 volumes, about 1700 pages) is at the heavier, deep end of the spectrum (and this is not explicitly an apologetic for the Roman Catholic Church, although it turns out that way, on many issues). There are many excellent take-away lines in Pelikan's series, one of which applies here: "scriptura" Pelikan writes, has never been "sola."
Rose is dead-on is describing how Protestants have these non-scriptural assumptions that each person has the ability to understand scripture and that scripture is not that difficult to understand and apply to one's life. It would have been child's play to show how St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians is a prime example of how apostolic authority plays out, that he uses his authority to override those Corinthians who have gone astray in oh-so-many ways. Certainly, St. Paul doesn't encourage Corinthians to follow their own ideas in misinterpreting the gospel. Nor does St. Paul assert that he's covered everything that they need to know.