Review: The Protestant’s Dilemma
When I first became serious about learning about my faith as an adult and discovered apologetics, I discovered the great apologists of the early 20th century and especially enjoyed their no-nonsense, focused approaches to addressing one question at a time rather than the larger issues such as, “Is Christianity true?” and “Why do bad things happen?” Those big questions are important, but important the way a meal is important at dinner time, when you can give it the time and attention it deserves. The smaller questions, like a handful of nuts, can be enjoyed all day long. And although I am a revert and never wandered off to any of the denominations (or nondenominations), I was fascinated at how other Christians viewed Christ, God and the Bible, and so I was just as interested in apologetics aimed at them as at non-believers.
Devin Rose’s apologetics are just the kind I would have gobbled up back then, and that I still enjoy today. Short but pointed, this book takes more than 30 different Protestant propositions and asks, What if they were true? What would we expect to find? He then answers with what we do find — and how it demonstrates that Catholicism, not Protestantism, is true. Each chapter ends with “the Protestant’s dilemma” — how to reconcile what should be true, if the Church if a fraud, with what is true.
For instance, Essay 5 takes on the Protestant proposition that the Catholic Church is at best in error, and at worst and evil cult. Yet, Rose says, the Catholic Church does not display the marks of a false church and has, throughout its history, proclaimed Christ as the savior and only begotten Son of God, and refused to abandon what is ancient for what is novel. How can the Protestant reconcile the claim that the Church has strayed with the fact that the Church has remained true to its earliest teachings while other Christians have strayed?
The model is a modified version of the style St.Thomas Aquinas uses in his theology textbook, the Summa, and works just as well here as a simple structure to use to examine Protestant claims. Arguments are short and are meant as introductions to the issues, rather than as exhaustive proof. The propositions are those made by Christian denominations that have roots in the Reformation.
The book is divided into four sections: The Church of Christ, the Bible and Tradition, the Sacraments and Salvation, and Christian History and Practice. Readers can start at the beginning and read in order, or proceed by the topics and arguments that most interest them.
While the book was written both to help Catholics engage Protestants in discussions and to aid Protestants examining the Catholic Church, Catholic readers will find — as I did with other apologetics book long ago — that looking at Protestant arguments helps them understand their own faith.
Rose, Devin. The Protestant’s Dilemma: How the Reformation’s Shocking Consequences Point to the Truth of Catholicism. San Diego: Catholic Answers Press, 2014. Available in print and e-book editions.
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