The Protestant’s Dilemma!

dilemmaThe new book is available for pre-order, to be shipped out at the end of this month. Catholic Answers has also created a mini-site for the book with summary, endorsements, purchase links, and a video interview that Jimmy Akin graciously did with me.

What if Protestantism were true? What if the Reformers really were heroes, the Bible the sole rule of faith, and Christ’s Church just an invisible collection of loosely united believers?

As an Evangelical, Devin Rose used to believe all of it. Then one day the nagging questions began. He noticed things about Protestant belief and practice that didn’t add up. He began following the logic of Protestant claims to places he never expected it to go—leading to conclusions no Christians would ever admit to holding.

In The Protestant’s Dilemma, Rose examines over thirty of those conclusions, showing with solid evidence, compelling reason, and gentle humor how the major tenets of Protestantism—if honestly pursued to their furthest extent— wind up in dead ends of absurdity.

love the book’s cover, though all should know that the church depicted that is falling over the cliff is fictitious. No Protestants were harmed in the making of The Protestant’s Dilemma.

Catholic Answers is offering a large discount, 30% off, for anyone who pre-orders the book. Just enter ROSE when checking out after you click on the purchase links. I don’t know how long that discount will last but probably not that long.

Remember too that the book makes a great Valentine’s gift to the Protestant in your life. Nothing says “I love you” like giving someone a dilemma about their most foundational beliefs. Trust me on this one and go with your heart!

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57 Responses to The Protestant’s Dilemma!

  1. I’m not really(officially) a Protestant…but a Lutheran.

    But I really don’t feel any “dilemma”. What I have come to experience from Christ alone, through His Word alone, and by faith alone…is His freedom. The freedom that He so dearly died to give me.

    No add-on’s (to Christ) are necessary for me.

    No dilemma. Just freedom.

    Thanks, anyhow.

    • > I’m not really(officially) a Protestant…but a Lutheran.

      Please ‘splain…

    • Devin Rose says:

      Ah, Steve. Interestingly, another friend (on facebook) commented that he also didn’t feel a dilemma. However whether one feels a dilemma or not does not mean that one doesn’t in fact *have* a dilemma! The worst kind of dilemma is having one and not knowing it. It is akin to atheists who say they don’t feel concerned about sin or the devil. Whether or not they feel concerned about those, they should be concerned!

      That said, I understand you believe that you are in the truest version of Christianity: Lutheranism. Maybe you are right. Then again, maybe not. The book seeks to challenge you to confront the arguments that claim you are not. Martin Luther is quoted extensively. And in the introduction to the book I added a specific section addressing Protestants who claim they are not Protestants (which can include Pentecostals, non-denominationals, Anglicans, Lutherans, Anabaptists, etc.).

    • But Steve, all of us have freedom (free will). Jesus died to give us salvation. Salvation comes to those who accept and love Jesus, and who persevere in that love until the end. It’s what the Church and the Bible have always taught.

      If you mean that Christ frees us from sin, yes, He does. But we can choose to sin again, and heartily. We can, as the Bible says, be “cut off” if we don’t stay in God’s friendship.

      And I am pretty sure that the only place the New Testament uses the words “faith alone” is where it says we are not justified by faith alone. Thus Luther’s need to add the word “alone” to the Word of God, to make it fit his new theology. Yipes.

  2. Leila,

    When it comes to the things of God, we do NOT have a free-will. Our wills are bound, To sin.

    As far as the “alone” goes…it is garnered from Scripture. “We are saved by faith through grace…not of works lest anyone should boast.”

    The Trinity isn’t mentioned specifically, either. But it is all over the N.T….just as being saved by grace, alone, is.

    • “We are saved by faith through grace…not of works lest anyone should boast.”

      Of course. We agree on that. We canonized that Book and those words. But you are not addressing the point. You can’t analogize it to the Trinity, as the Bible is not explicit on the Trinity, it is implicit (and verified by the Church). However, the Bible is explicit on “faith alone” (as in: we are “NOT justified by faith alone”.

      On what authority did Martin Luther add a word to Scripture? And on what authority did he try to trash entire books of the New Testament? Why follow such a man? Gives me the shivers to think of a man trashing entire books of the Bible, and yet his new doctrines are followed as if he is a man of authority.

      • Well, Leila…we disagree.

        The Bible says, “Baptism now saves you.” Is that a work that we do?

        The Bible says that “those who work will be given their due. But those who trust in Christ will have their faith counted as righteousness.”

        The Bible says that we are saved “not by the will of man…but by God.”

        I can go on, but you get the picture.

        • Ah, exactly, Steve! Baptism does save us, just as the Bible says and the Church has always taught. The Bible says that we are justified/saved/given new birth and receive eternal life in these ways:

          By believing
          By repentence
          By baptism
          By the work of the Spirit
          By declaring with our mouths
          By coming to the knowledge of Truth
          By works
          By grace
          By his blood
          By his righteousness
          By his Cross.

          (thanks to Stephen K. Ray’s Crossing the Tiber which contains full Bible references.)

          None of this equals “faith alone“, and again, the Bible is explicit that we are not justified by faith alone. No need for implications, as it’s explicit. To be extra clear, we are talking about the modifier “alone” and why you use it.

          You never answered the other points, about Luther, but I’d like your thoughts on that if you could.

          Love between man and God requires a relationship, no? Even brining ourselves to the altar, to baptism, even praying a sinner’s prayer, even repenting, is a “work”, no? We are not robots, we are not unconscious. Of course we bring ourselves to the relationship, and we elect to stay in that relationship, lest we be cut off, as St. Paul explicitly says. Thanks!

  3. This is a short read on “free-will”:

    http://theoldadam.com/2012/09/01/so-called-free-will/

    It’s pretty good, though.

  4. Luther didn’t add a word to Scripture. It’s what Scripture points to.

    I was a Catholic for 40 years. They operate from a legal scheme (what ‘we must do’)…

    we Lutherans view the gospel through the grace scheme (Christ does it ALL…for us) that’s what grace means…unmerited favor. If there’s something that we need to do, then it isn’t grace.

    This is how Luther figured out “the dilemma”:

    http://theoldadam.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/the-question-that-precipitated-the-reformation.mp3

    It’s worth a listen just to understand where we are coming from…even if you don’t agree with it.

  5. Actually, he did add it, and even Wiki (non-Catholic source) reports that fact:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luther_Bible (look under “Theology”)

    I’ve been debating for twenty years (since I came back to the Church) so I do understand the other side, and I hope to never misrepresent your position. I agree that all good is grace, and that we are saved by grace, but we are not robots, and we either choose to cooperate with God’s grace or not. He gives us the dignity of choosing to love him or not.

    When you say that we don’t “need” to do anything, then you are saying we don’t “need” to repent? We don’t “need” to be baptized? We don’t “need” to love God? Yet we are commanded to these things. Not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but He who does the will of Jesus’ Father. Oh yes, we need to do His will!

    But I don’t think you addressed the issue of authority, and by what authority Luther messed with Sacred Scripture? He hated parts of the New Testament and wanted to trash them. Why do you not dismiss him outright, for that alone? How could you trust this man to have sound doctrine when he did not even accept the whole of the New Testament? Don’t you see a problem with using him as any kind of authority at all?

  6. I would listen to the audio you posted, but can you tell me on what authority the man speaks? Is he part of a Church that has apostolic succession? Because I have scoured the New Testament and have not found any model of church that was started up without the authority of the Apostles or their appointed successors. I don’t see that model of church, and I have yet to have a Protestant (or Lutheran or anyone) show me that model in the New Testament. So, what authority does the speaker you linked have, that I don’t have, or that any other Christian has? Why should I believe him? Who vouches for him? I’m not trying to be ornery, I’m really seriously asking why I should think his opinion is authoritative? Thanks!

    • The Word of God is the authority.

      It’s the same authority that acts when you, or anyone else tells someone about Jesus and faith is born (by hearing).

      The Word of God…alone…is the authority.

      There…I used it, too. :D

  7. Some people just like self-focused ascendent religion. That is the heart of Catholicism.

    Others hear about what Christ has done for them, the ungodly, and are overjoyed.

    Every once in a while someone hears the pure gospel and is freed. So I keep throwing it out there.

    I’m not at all saying that Catholics aren’t saved. Far from it. I’m just doing what Luther did. Trying to scrape some of the barnacles off the hull.

    Thanks.

  8. Thanks, Steve. Your comments did not address my specific questions at all, so I will take my leave. God bless!

  9. Amber says:

    Well, on a different note from the exchange above… Congratulations!! I really liked your suggestion at the end… :-)

  10. Joe Fen says:

    Hi Steve,

    You said: “The Word of God…alone…is the authority.”
    Since you go by the Bible alone, I imagine this comes from the Bible.
    What chapter/verse would I find your claim?

    • Bob says:

      Joe,
      Its not necessary for the Bible itself to say in its pages that it is alone the Word of God and the ultimate authority for the church. Christ revealed to the church that this is the case.

      • “Its not necessary for the Bible itself to say in its pages that it is alone the Word of God and the ultimate authority for the church.”

        Not necessary according to whom?

        “Christ revealed to the church that this is the case.”

        Can you provide evidence that Christ revealed exactly that to the Church? Because the early Church Fathers, saints and martyrs did not believe what you believe on that.

        • Bob says:

          Actually Paul calls all Scripture inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16). This statement covers both the OT and NT. Since the OT was already established by the time of Christ we can deal with the NT canon which was officially recognized by the 4th century if I’m not mistaken.

          • Well, he couldn’t have actually been talking about the NT at that point, obviously. But nonetheless, Catholics believe that all Scripture is inspired by God, definitely. We agree on that. But that was not the question.

            By the way, the Bible is the written Word, but it is not “alone the Word of God” as you say. Jesus Christ Himself is the Word of God, isn’t He? If so, then the Bible cannot be the Word of God “alone”, correct?

            • Bob says:

              Whether Paul was aware of the entire NT canon at the time does not change the fact that these books when written were the Word of God the moment they were written.

              It is true that Jesus is the Word but what I’m referring to is the Scriptures which alone are inspired-inerrant Word of God. No church documents such as encyclicals or commentaries are inspired-inerrant.

  11. Pingback: This Week's Best in Catholic Apologetics | DavidLGray.INFO

  12. Joe,

    “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for IT IS the power of God…”

    Romans 1:16

    The Word (the gospel) creates faith. That is why IT alone, has authority.

    And whenever ANYONE preaches that gospel (you, or I, or the kid down the block) the authority is there…in the Word itself.

    • The written Bible is the only Word? Nothing else but the written Word has authority? What did the Christians do before there was a New Testament? The first word of the New Testament was not even written before a decade had passed since Christ’s resurrection, and yet in that time the Church was already thriving, and growing, and saving souls. So, how could they know what the Gospel was without the written Word?

      • Bob says:

        Leila Miller,
        Only the Bible is the inspired-inerrant Word of God and thereby the ultimate authority for the church.

        • And yet the Church that gave us the Bible says otherwise. And the Bible itself says otherwise. The Bible says that the Church is “the pillar and foundation of truth”.

          • Bob says:

            The church is not inspired-inerrant. Only the Word of God is. It is true that the church is ““the pillar and foundation of truth” but it is not the truth but the support of it.

            It was not the church that “gave” us the Bible. The OT Scriptures were already in place before the church came into being. It was Christ Who used the church to determine the canon of the NT.

            • You definitely have a dilemma there. The Church that Christ used to give us the Bible (the authority to write the NT, the authority to discern it, to protect, copy and ultimately canonize it) is the Church comprised of bishops, a pope, and distinctly Catholic doctrine. If you can trust the authority of the Church regarding the NT, you can surely trust her, period. Christ gave her authority. And the Church was thriving for centuries before the New Testament was canonized. If you can’t trust the Church, then you can’t trust the Book it provided and vouched for.

              • Bob says:

                The church of the 4th century was not the RCC. In the 4th century they did not believe in the Marian dogmas, purgatory, infallible papacy etc. It is these doctrines and others that the church of the 4th century did not believe in.

                Secondly, my confidence in the Scripture is not grounded on what a church or council does but on God Himself Who has power to get His Word to the church.

                Third, you have a problem trusting your church given its history. Just look at the inquisitions or the evil popes or how it has dealt with the priest scandals in modern times.

  13. Christie says:

    Devin,

    This looks great! Although there is a period missing on page 28 – “…while Christ’s true Church became invisible and purely spiritual”

    -Christie

    • Devin Rose says:

      Doh! First typo found. It is somewhat inevitable, but I have sent this to Catholic Answers in case we can correct it before another printing. Thanks!

      • Christie says:

        Devin,

        I got your book and was skimming through it. I liked what I saw! I’m excited to sit down and read it. Although I noticed at the very end it seems to stop rather abruptly. You talk about interpreting things in a different lens, and then, it’s over. I really appreciated the invitation to seek truth at the end of “If Protestantism Is True.” But congratulations on this book, I hope it will open eyes and hearts and minds to seek unity.

        –Christie

        • Devin Rose says:

          Thanks Christie! Yes, you found another goof: several paragraphs were accidentally chopped off the conclusion during one of the final revision passes. I told my editor about it at Catholic Answers and he is having the e-books all updated immediately and the paperback will be updated for the second print run. Ooops! Oh well, a small thing. Thanks again.

          • Christie says:

            Devin,

            Oh, okay…This might be a strange request and I understand if the answer is no. But I wanted to give this book (the one I bought) to a friend to borrow but I don’t think the ending makes for a good closing the way it is, with my friend being pretty anti-Catholic and all…an ending with more of a welcoming invitation to seek truth is obviously better (since that’s the way you wrote it first of all). Can I send in the book I bought to Catholic Answers and exchange it for the 2nd publishing edition? The price is the same.

            –Christie

  14. “The church of the 4th century was not the RCC. In the 4th century they did not believe in the Marian dogmas, purgatory, infallible papacy etc. It is these doctrines and others that the church of the 4th century did not believe in.”

    You might want to check your Church history on that, Bob. What are your sources? I suggest a very thorough reading of the Fathers and Church history up to that point. Catholic Answers at catholic.com (or any book of the Early Fathers’ writings that is not creatively edited) has the sources and documents that will confirm Catholic understanding of all those things, long before the NT was canonized.

    It’s right there in history, for anyone to access.

    • Bob says:

      Leila,
      I have studied church history. Many of the doctrines you believe today as a RC were not believed in the 4th century church. Just look at the Marian dogmas.

      Have you read the church fathers?

      • Yes, I have.

        Bob, who were the people who canonized the New Testament in the 4th Century?

        • Bob says:

          Church leaders.

          • Michael says:

            Hi all, awaiting to the arrival of this book and made me chuckle, hearing good people debate.

            Bob I wanted to direct you to this site; as you earlier said that there was nothing the early church fathers said about purgatory or our teachings. In actual fact there are HUNDREDS that reflect catholic teaching.
            Hope this helps, never stop searching for The truth.

            http://www.staycatholic.com/ecf_purgatory.htm

            If you need more quotes I will happily provide.

            God Bless, unity soon!

            Mike

            • Bob says:

              Mike,
              The fathers are expressing only their opinions. They do not speak for the entire church nor tell us what the rest of the church at the time believed.

              Exegete the Scripture and you will never find the apostles teaching purgatory.

              • Mike says:

                Thank you for the reply Bob.

                When we are looking at purgatory, we also look at what the Jews of the time; believed & still to this day believe, which is purgatory. Jesus was a Jew and the King of the Jews & he no where said there is no purgatory. Instead we see that we are tested by fire

                “For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble—each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”

                we have our sins burned away by the burning light of God. And the likeness of heaven is like the

                If there was no purgatory, then if we died in mortal sin (before we confessed) then are we doomed for hell? Cause we cannot stand before God as we are sinners so we cannot be judged, God cannot see any evil or sin, and we cannot assume we are forgiven cause we are told to repent our sins, otherwise it would be ‘pointless’ (loosely termed) to repent our sins.

                Thanks again Bob.

  15. Well…here’s putting it to the Evangelicals…and their blasphemous theology:

    http://theoldadam.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/the-one-true-foundation1.mp3

    Man, does he let them have it…but good.

  16. Matt says:

    So I have a question, when you read the Bible, it says that the Sabbath is the Seventh Day of the week why do Catholics worship on Sunday which is the first day of the week? thanks in advance.

      • Matt says:

        Thanks for the reply, I read those articles – they both say that Catholics don’t worship on the Sabbath, but when you read the Bible it says Jesus did. So that’s my question why don’t Catholics worship on the Sabbath?

        Then I read this quote from the Catholic church, I don’t understand:
        “I have repeatedly offered $1,000 to anyone who can prove to me from the Bible alone that I am bound to keep Sunday holy. There is no such law in the Bible. It is a law of the holy Catholic Church alone. The Bible says, ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’ The Catholic Church says: ‘No. By my divine power I abolish the Sabbath day and command you to keep holy the first day of the week.’ And lo! The entire civilized world bows down in a reverent obedience to the command of the holy Catholic Church.” father T. Enright, C.S.S.R. of the Redemptoral College, Kansas City, in a lecture at Hartford, Kansas, February 18, 1884, printed in History of the Sabbath, p. 802.”

        • Devin Rose says:

          Matt, Jesus worshiped on the Sabbath because He was Jewish and was following the Old Covenant, even as He was ushering in the New Covenant.

          In the New Covenant, worship was moved to Sunday, the first day of the week, the day Jesus rose from the dead. So Christians from the most ancient times (read, Apostolic Age) worshiped on Sunday.

  17. Bob says:

    Mike,
    Only the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin. (I John 1:7) not fire. Christ paid the debt for sin in full. (Col. 2:13-14). There is no need for a purgatory.

    • Jose says:

      Bob,
      I want you to answer the following. I’m sure as you know that when the bible was made in the fourth century, there were countless upon countless books that claimed to be divinely inspired. In fact, one the greatest historians of the time Eusebius, around the year 324 AD wrote that that the epistles of James, Jude 2 Peter and 3 John, as well as the epistle to the Hebrews and the book of Revelations, were still not accepted as part of the bible. It was the 4th century and people were still debating over what books were needed to be put into the bible.
      Now if I can recollect you stated “It was Christ Who used the church to determine the canon of the NT” I myself truly believe this and from your words, you do too. But I want to bring up and important point. Could Christ have been wrong? Did he lead the Church to choose some wrong books? Why would he allow it? If you say no ( Christ is Not wrong), then your accepting that the books the church chose at the time were divinely inspired. ALL OF THEM; Including Macabees, which hands down proves the existence of the purgatory. If you would choose to believe that the early church ( which at its time believed in the transformation of bread to flesh and wine to blood, as well as the purgatory, and Mary, etc..) had enough divine grace from God to choose the books of the bible, why would not the same church have had enough divine grace to translate it. Surely the divine grace of Jesus to his beloved church did not run out of gasoline as soon as they finished choosing the books of the bible. Was god to let them be on their own for the next thousand years. The god that said he would always be with us, was he to break his promise. Surely not.
      Adding on, in those days people had to trust the church to be right in certain things. For example, people in the early church fought over whether Jesus was a man, an image, a phantom, whether he was partially human or partially god, or fully man and god. It was the early church that fought off heresies and taught the truth that is so well appreciated by others today. There are a few other things the church decided, that today are so widely accepted by both protestants and catholics alike, that I beg to ask. Don’t you think the church that was guided to determine these truths is the true church?
      You might argue against me and say no, but if I was to tell somebody of the early church such as say… Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycrap, who in turn was a disciple of the apostle John he would tell me ” It is necessary to seek among others the truth which is easily obtained from the Church, if there should be a dispute over some kind of question, ought we not have recourse to the most ancient churches in which the apostles were familiar, and draw from them what is clear and certain in regard to that question? What if the apostles had not in fact left writings to us? Would it not be necessary to follow the order of tradition, which was handed down to those to whom they entrusted the churches?” ( Real words from the disciple Iranaeus) It seems to me he believed in the early church.
      Back to step one, what if God let the early Church be wrong. Was he to let a man who I quote “and it is more important to guard them against good works then against sin” ( You can find any of these quotes in his books, but this first quote, he basically says a man is more dangerous doing good works than sinning, WHAT!!!) “…with regard to God, and in all that bears on salvation or damnation, man has no ‘free-will” ( Yep you heard right, Martin Luther did not believe in Free will) “Like the mules who will not move unless you perpetually whip them with rods, so the civil powers must drive the common people, whip, choke, hang, burn, behead and torture them, that they may learn to fear the powers that be.” ( Luther was okay with peasants deserving a harsh treatment, im sure god is totally okay with the wrong done on those powerless, right? ) “I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture.” ( So he believes in polygamy, I’m sure even many protestant churches today would call heresy, but lets move on) “Jews are young devils damned to hell.” ( So part of the greatest commandment of all time, to love your neighbor, was actually not true, I guess Jesus forgot to elaborate,” love those who love me only, but dam the jews and all nonbelievers, though when I am to die, I still forgive them, yep, Jews to hell, and go preach to gentiles, dam Jews!” ) Whatttt!!!!!!!!!!! So yea, God would divinely inspire A man like this to choose what books to take out, because Christ ran out of grace to give to the early church, thus the early church was wrong on a few books. hmmm… Praise Luther right? For he, with his no free will and polygamy received divine grace to promote faith alone, though the bible never directly says it, polygamy, harsh punishments, dam jews, dam James for he was an idiot in writing his gospel.
      I want you BOB to pray over this, if you don’t, it’s because your hard-headed. And your not coming into this argument with an open mind, but with one set to prove me wrong, I waste my time in trying to show you the beauty of the catholic church, if this be the case, you will be as the jews who saw the the works and did not believe. If you have enough faith to believe that you are right, than fear not and pray over what I have said that the lord may show you the church which he established and through Peter and apostolic succession still stands today, for no evil will ever demolish or destroy it. God bless you Bob in the search for the truth.

  18. Bob says:

    Jose,
    Where does Macabees prove the existence of the purgatory? Can you give me which book, chapter and verse?

    It seems you believe your church cannot err. Where did Jesus promise this? How could this be when there are a number of warnings against false teachers coming into the church and deceiving many? If the church could not err then why does Christ rebuke a number of churches for teaching error in Revelation?

    • Mike says:

      Good Day Everyone!!

      http://www.catholic.com/tracts/purgatory

      Bob- Hi again bob, there are numerous teachings on purgatory, remember firstly our Jewish beginning…. (As above)

      If you want the word purgatory, you will not find it, but you will also not find, Holy Trinity or Incarnation but they are still taught! Do you see how the approach of looking for words does not work?

      If God wanted a WordSearch then we would be doomed, to 35,000 different Protestant denominations with False Teachers (although some teach partial truths correctly-in line with the church)

      Catholics aren’t scared of History we embrace even if it does show Human’s in err, but God will lead his church into “all truths” not individual humans, with private interpretation. and HE will protect the church from the gates of Hades
      God Bless

  19. Mike says:

    And Bob if Christ’s blood cleansed us of all sin, then we don’t need to repent our sins… This is the conclusion that leads to a … Vicious circle..

    Have a good one

    • Bob says:

      Mike,
      It is not correct to say “if Christ’s blood cleansed us of all sin, then we don’t need to repent our sins…”.

  20. Jose says:

    2 Macabees 39-46
    Its clear in these passages that Judas thought it wise to offer such a sacrifice for these dead soldiers, in hopes that this sacrifice for the dead would help them in trasition from this life into heaven ( Judas undeniably believed in purgatory) and that his belief here is scripturally commended as holy and pious.

    • Bob says:

      Jose,
      Its my understanding that these soldiers were idol worshipers which is a mortal sin. This means they would have gone to hell wouldn’t it?

      Judas Macabees was a military man and had no prophetic authority. What he was doing was practicing his superstition since the OT does not teach praying to the dead or for them.