You all know I love a good debate.
My first foray into internet debates (the best kind!) was in '98 or '99, when I first got internet access and found a Catholic apologetics forum. I spent large chunks of my day in dialogue with Protestants, defending Catholicism alongside other amazing Catholics.
For many years, I imagined that I would stay with the Protestant/Catholic debates, as that is how I thought my way into the Church. It was such a passion of mine! But as time went on, it started to bum me out to realize how divided Christians are today, even more than when the Protestant Reformation (really a rebellion) tore Christendom asunder. And since I had neither the time nor the energy to become an expert on each of the 30,000+ Protestant denominations and their contradictory beliefs on a bazillion different topics -- even on essential issues that touch on salvation itself -- I engaged in fewer and fewer of those discussions.
When I started this blog in 2010, I did expect to do a lot more Protestant/Catholic apologetics than I actually have done (though I have done some), but I eventually ended up taking on more of the secular and atheist arguments, which became increasingly fascinating to me.
The shift in my interest and emphasis has not, however, lessened my admiration for those who do charitably engage our separated brethren. Long before he and I became friends, I was an ardent fan of former atheist and former Protestant Devin Rose, blown away by the skill and knowledge he brought to the debate. His was one of the first blogs I ever read regularly -- perhaps the first -- and there are two characteristics of his work that I deeply appreciate: His clarity and and his charity.
Years ago, when Devin told his readers that he was writing a book, I was giddy. The finished product, If Protestantism is True, was so good that I hoped it would be picked up by a big publisher. Sure enough, Catholic Answers saw its potential, revamped it, and gave it a new name. The fine result is The Protestant's Dilemma: How the Reformation's Shocking Consequences Point to the Truth of Catholicism.
|Isn't that a cool cover??|
If you like how we talk here in the Bubble, you will love the format of The Protestant's Dilemma. The book is divided into four parts: The Church of Christ, The Bible and Tradition, The Sacraments and Salvation, and Christian History and Practice.
The parts are further divided into chapters. Each chapter names a topic, then follows first with the Protestant beliefs and implications, then with the Catholic beliefs and implications regarding that topic.
For example, Chapter 12 is entitled:
"The Principle of Individual Judgment"
"If Protestantism is true, we all decide for ourselves what God's revelation means."
For a couple of pages, Devin expands upon this proposition with Scripture, Christian history, and logic, and then presents the other side:
"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."
Devin follows with more expansion of Scripture, Christian history, and logic.
Finally, each short and readable chapter is capped with an airtight summary of "the Protestant's dilemma" on that particular topic. Chapter 12 sums up:
If Protestantism is true, then difficult parts of Scripture should be understandable through careful study, prayerful consideration, and application of other parts of Scripture that are ostensibly clearer. Yet when faithful members of Protestant communities study hard, prayerfully seek God's illumination, and diligently apply other parts of Scripture, they still arrive at different interpretations -- often leading to the founding of a new community or denomination. For a Protestant, sola scriptura makes him, and not the Bible, the final authority.
See what I mean? Systematic, reasoned, clear. That's the way I like my own blog, and that's the way I like my books of apologetics. Devin's contribution to the Protestant/Catholic dialogue is invaluable, and I wouldn't be caught in an online debate without The Protestant's Dilemma on my shelf and at the ready!
PS: If you really want to know the kind of man we are dealing with here, please watch Devin's recent interview with Marcus Grodi on EWTN's The Journey Home. His story is quite painful at first (as an atheist, and dealing with crippling anxiety, he came close to suicide), but powerfully redemptive: