The Protestant’s dilemma?
When someone tells you you’re in a dilemma, and that’s news to you, you get a little curious. So when I heard about a book called The Protestant’s Dilemma I thought…okay, I’ll bite. What’s my dilemma? So I bought it. And I didn’t buy it.
The author is a converted Roman Catholic lay apologist who attempts to show “how the major tenets of Protestantism – if honestly pursued to their furthest extent – wind up in dead ends.” Most of what he feels lead to dead ends I’ve already addressed in my month-long series on the Catholic Church which I began here. There were no fresh revelations that constituted any sort of dilemma for me. But he begins and ends with perhaps the Church’s most distinctive doctrine and the reason why I don’t hesitate to call attention to her and why I want to call attention to her now: her claim to authority over all Christendom. It’s pretty much her solution to all the dilemmas she finds herself in when Catholic teachings and practices appear to run contrary to Scripture: The Catholic Church alone has the authority to correctly interpret it, as the only true church founded by Jesus.
I have many dear family members and friends who are Catholic and live good, faithful lives in service to God. I believe I can applaud and affirm them without affirming the institution that claims them as members, which, by the way, still claims me as a member also because I was baptized Catholic. The Church’s claim of primacy is one with far-reaching ramifications for all Christians, so rightly deserves examination. And the Church herself then is fairly targeted for scrutiny.
The ramifications for me personally are little more than the occasional welling up of indignation at her insistence that my faith is faulty and second-rate, and the concern for my Catholic family and friends who I sincerely believe are being sincerely deceived. But if what she claims were true it would mean that I and many others, Catholic and non-, are destined for hell. And if they are false, as I believe they are, many are unnecessarily suffering fear and anxiety over their eternal fate instead of resting in the assurance that they are already saved and secure. The Catholic Church is also hindering unity within the Body of Christ with her works-righteousness salvation doctrine that is opposed to the salvation by faith alone doctrine of non-Catholic Christians, and her assertion that salvation is through her alone.
So is the Roman Catholic Church Christ’s visible authority on earth? An answer in the affirmative is crucial to whether or not the rest of her claims go through, so I want to examine the question as fully as I can, which will take a few posts. Today I just want to implore any Catholic reading this to be as diligent in spiritual matters as you would be in earthly matters. If you got a letter or phone call purportedly from the IRS or other government authority, you’d want to see some credentials before complying with their demands. Doesn’t it make sense to investigate the Church’s credentials? Is it enough that that’s how you were raised and you’re comfortable just being told what to do and believe? Or if you have investigated them, are you convinced enough to stake your eternal destiny on the Church’s interpretation of evidence that millions of other Christ-followers have understood differently?
If the Catholic Church truly is the visible manifestation of the Body of Christ and the sole arbiter of his truth, then you absolutely should submit to her. But that’s a huge “if” and one of infinite importance. Should we not be thoroughly convinced of it before surrendering our souls?
Here’s another “if”: If you are not thoroughly convinced, you owe it to yourself to do some more investigating. I hope you’ll return to read and consider my arguments for why the Catholic Church is in error in proclaiming herself the one, true church.
Thanks for the review, Caroline. A very “good” man, Nicodemus, had a hard time accepting Truth that was contrary to the ruling (and highly structured) religious authority that he was a part of.
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Yes, Nicodemus had his own dilemma, huh?…heed the traditions and blustering of the Pharisees or think for himself.
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Dear Caroline, keep searching, keep praying,
you will find the Truth. The Church’s doors are
always open, waiting for your return.
I have found the truth, Dave. Why would I want to return to the church that I believe so deceived me?
Because it hasn’t. You will eventually find that out.
If once a Catholic and then return to the church you are considered a second class part of the Catholic Church, please read Vatican II and the bible; not just the selected programmed missal even practising Catholics never read. There is no two stage salvation, either the blood of Christ is sufficient or not.
Hi, Taras. I’m sorry, but I don’t understand your comment. Are you defending the Catholic faith? What is the “two stage salvation” you’re referring to? I don’t read any “programmed missal” and I do read the Bible as well as the Catholic Catechism. What are you objecting to in my post?
I’m not defending Catholicism quite the contrary, I wasn’t sure if you were a Catholic or not.
Not. Former though. If you’ll look at my other posts on the Catholic Church you’ll get a better picture of where I’m coming from. Thanks for reading. 😊
My original point was that Catholicism assumes too much, if I leave the CC and return I’m a second class saved person if at all, there are no levels of salvation, the blood of Christ paid it all. Protestants have no dilemma if they believe the bible.