Friday, January 11, 2008

Bad Answers

Brian at Principium Unitatis posted 10 great questions for Protestants.

1. Whose determination of the canon of Scripture is authoritative?

2. Whose interpretation of Scripture is authoritative?

3. Whose determination of the identity and extension of the Body of Christ is authoritative?

4. Whose determination of which councils are authoritative is authoritative?

5. Whose determination of the nature and existence of schism is authoritative?

6. Whose determination of the nature and extension of Holy Orders is authoritative?

7. Whose determination of orthodoxy and heresy is authoritative?

8. If your answer to questions 1-7 is "the Holy Spirit", then whose determination of what the Holy Spirit is saying is authoritative?

9. Given your answers to the above questions, how does your position avoid individualism and the perpetual fragmentation that accompanies it?

10. Does not even nature teach you that a visible body needs a visible head? Does grace therefore destroy nature, or does grace build upon nature?
Now here are my not-so-great answers (consistent with the best Protestant apologetics I've heard to date).

1. The Scriptures testify of their own canonicity. It is their apostolicity that makes them authoritative.

2. Scripture must interpret Scripture. We must read Scripture in the light of other Scripture with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

3. No one on earth can point to the body of Christ since it is the collective body of all true Christians everywhere.

4. All councils may err and many have. Therefore councils are only authoritative in so far as they line up with the Bible (see point 2 on how to interpret it and point 1 on how to know what it is)

5. The only meaningful schism is spiritual. Though not to be taken lightly, if a church begins to teach doctrines incompatible with the bible (again see 1 & 2) we are spiritually obligated to "schism" (if you want to use that word). The Reformers taught us that the true church is constantly reforming since her members are fallible men.

6. Holy Orders aren't in the bible.

7. The early church described in the New Testament is the litmus test by which to measure orthodoxy.

8. N/A

9. The divisions in the body of Christ are caused by man's sinful nature and are not part of God's plan. While various denominations have different styles of worship and worship preference - the important thing is that we all agree on the fundamentals of the faith which we find in the Bible alone. All true Christian churches adhere to biblical doctrine.

10. Well that's only IF you agree that the body is visible. As Luther & Calvin taught us, the church is all true Christians regardless of denomination. We only have one head: Jesus Christ.

Those were ten answers that absolutely don't work (but surprisingly the very ones you will hear time and time again from the top Protestant theologians and apologists). How anyone can fail to see how terrible these answers are is beyond me.

Now it's time to sit back and wait to hear "that's not my answer".


Thos said...


Really, I appreciated your effort at giving Protestant answers to those questions, and yours is the best reply I've seen yet (not being sarcastic). Now, I know that you're inclined to the sarcastic arts at times, but hear me out. I think it's vital, in ecumenical dialogue, to *try* to honestly see questions from our 'opponents' perspectives. And a great way to do that is to *try* to answer challenges as well as we think the opposing side CAN answer them.

Take for a second a view that no one is 100% certain they are 100% right. If you are unwilling to stretch your mind to see a challenge as your opponent would, and your opponent is also similarly unwilling, no one will give any challenging question enough thought to be challenged by it. Err... anyway, in that case we all get nowhere. Alternatively, if you do so consider, and you still happen to be convinced that your own position is right, you're all the stronger for it.

Anyway, thanks, brother.

Peace in Christ,

Tim A. Troutman said...

I agree. That's why I was doing for the last 10 years of being Protestant - trying to understand and come to agree with the Protestant doctrine. I wasn't fully acquainted with an alternative. I thought my PCA theology was the best there was. Then I studied Catholicism and found that there was a much better alternative that left no stone unturned and answered every single doctrinal problem with ease. That's why I'm Catholic now.

I think I understand the Protestant position very well.