Critique of THE PROTESTANT'S DILEMMA by Devin Rose

Chapter 10 - Identifying the Canon

Page 80: The historical realities of the canon of Scripture leave Protestants in a pickle. How can they know with certainty that the sixty-six books in their Bibles are the correct set of inspired books? They need to know with the strongest certainty possible, because they hold to sola scriptura – that from the Bible alone comes all of the saving truths that God revealed for man to believe and live by. But if they’re not certain that the books contained in their Bible are all inspired by God, then those truths  become open for debate; likewise, if they can’t say for sure that they haven’t left out some inspired books, then they face the possibility that some saving truths are missing.
Note: Scripture will be consistent and not be in conflict with itself.
Sola Scriptura is a formal principle of many Protestant Christian denominations and one of the five solas. It was a foundational doctrinal principle of the Protestant Reformation held by the Reformers, who taught that authentication of Scripture is governed by the discernible excellence of the text as well as the personal witness of the Holy Spirit to the heart of each man. Some Evangelical and Baptist denominations state the doctrine of sola Scriptura more strongly: Scripture is self-authenticating, clear (perspicuous) to the rational reader, its own interpreter ("Scripture interprets Scripture"), and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Pages 80-81: One influential modern Protestant leader has come up with a new way to handle this dilemma. It was Protestant pastor R.C. Sproul who first famously described the Bible as a “fallible collection of infallible books.” Since only processes or agents (people, groups) can be fallible, Sproul is asserting that God did not protect the process by which the canon was discerned. So the canon is the result of a human process that may very well have had errors – wrong books included and/or inspired ones excluded.
Note: The Catholic Church has been fallible throughout its history.
Novatian (c. 200–258) was a scholar, priest, theologian and antipope who held the title between 251 and 258. Greek authors, Pope Damasus I and Prudentius give his name as Novatus. He was a noted theologian and writer, the first Roman theologian who used the Latin language, at a time when there was much debate about how to deal with Christians who had lapsed and wished to return, and the issue of penance. Consecrated as pope by three bishops in 251, he adopted a more rigorous position than the established Pope Cornelius. Novatian was shortly afterwards excommunicated: the schismatic church which he established persisted for several centuries (see Novatianism). Novatian fled during a period of persecutions, and may have been a martyr. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Page 81: The Jews in the Old Covenant didn’t have an infallible magisterium to tell them which books belonged in their canon, yet they were still the people of God and seemed to discern divine revelation just fine. So, some Protestants say, the Catholic assertion that we have to know the canon with “infallible” certainty is baseless. It is simply not necessary to have such certainty; instead, the proper use of our God-given reason can give us enough confidence in the canon of Scripture to allow us to know God’s will.
Note: The Catholic Church has been fallible throughout its history.
Antipope Felix II was installed as Pope in 355 AD after the Emperor Constantius II banished the reigning Pope, Liberius, for refusing to subscribe the sentence of condemnation against Saint Athanasius. In May 357 AD the Roman laity, which had remained faithful to Liberius, demanded that Constantius, who was on a visit to Rome, should recall Liberius. The Emperor planned to have Felix and Liberius rule jointly, but when Liberius returned Felix was forced to retire to Porto, near Rome, where, after making an unsuccessful attempt to establish himself again in Rome, he died on 22 November 365 AD. This Felix was later confused with a Roman martyr named Felix, with the result that he was included in lists of the Popes as Felix II and that the succeeding Popes of the same name (Pope Felix III and Pope Felix IV) were given wrong numerals, as was Antipope Felix V. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Pages 81-82: Other Protestants are not comfortable with Sproul’s admission that the process to determine the canon was fallible. They realize that if the canon of Scripture is not inerrant, then there is no use claiming that the books themselves are inerrant. Sproul himself recognized that he had no principled reason to believe with certainty that the all too fallible Church of the early centuries correctly selected the books of the Bible, or that the likewise fallible Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth century did, either. Hence his supremely unsatisfactory formula, which has become an uncomfortable perch upon which some Protestants try to find rest from answering the question of the canon.
Note: The Catholic Church has been fallible throughout its history.
Ursicinus, also known as Ursinus, was elected pope in a violently contested election in 366 as a rival to Pope Damasus I. He ruled in Rome for several months in 366–367, was afterwards declared antipope, and died after 381. The upper-class partisans of Felix supported the election of Damasus, but the opposing supporters of Liberius, the deacons and laity, supported Ursicinus; the two were elected simultaneously, in an atmosphere of rioting. Supporters already clashed at the beginning of October. Such was the violence and bloodshed that the two praefecti of the city were called in to restore order, and after a first setback, when they were driven to the suburbs and a massacre of 137 was perpetrated in the basilica of Sicininus (as cited in Ammianus Marcellinus), the prefects banished Ursicinus to Gaul. There was further violence when he returned, which continued after Ursicinus was exiled again. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Page 82: The main difficulty with this position is that even as it correctly identifies the problem with accepting the discernment of an “apostate” Church, or fallible reformers, or the subjective internal assessment of believers, it nonetheless accepts their conclusions in a lump. In fact, Sproul and other sympathetic Protestants believe that their Protestant canon is inerrant, that the list of books is exactly right, even though they flatly reject the belief that God protected from error any of the people who actually did the discernment. They are trying to produce a certainty from these various fallible sources that is somehow greater than the sum of its parts, but that is mere wishful thinking. It is not an assent of faith supported by solid reasoning but rather a fideistic leap of faith supported by solid reasoning but rather a fideistic leap off unstable rocks.
Note: Scripture will be consistent and not be in conflict with itself unlike the Catholic Church.
Luther said, "a simple layman armed with Scripture is greater than the mightiest pope without it". The intention of the Reformation was to correct the perceived errors of the Catholic Church by appeal to the uniqueness of the Bible's authority and to reject what Catholics considered to be Apostolic Tradition as a source of original authority alongside the Bible, wherever Tradition did not have Biblical support or where it supposedly contradicted Scripture.

Page 82: As for the Jews, although it’s true that they did not have an infallible magisterium and that their canon grew over time as God sent more prophets to them, it’s also true that the New Covenant is greater than the Old in every way. The Israelites ate manna in the desert, but the new people of God feed on Christ himself in the Eucharist.
Note: The Catholic Church misses the purpose of the Eucharist.
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. 1 Corinthians 11:26.
Note: The Apostle Paul did not consider the Eucharist the actual body of Jesus Christ.

Page 82: The Jews were given the Law to help them know and follow God’s will, but members of the Church are given God’s Spirit to help them live in the freedom of Christ.
Note: In a similar manner, Christians have sola scriptura.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
Note: The fictional deuteroncanonical books are not scripture per the Apostle Paul.

Page 83: The discernment of the canon was a messy process that took centuries, during which time the Church had to sift through numerous proposed alternatives. And then, about a thousand years afterward, the Protestant Reformers came along to edit the Old Testament list of books. Sproul, one of Protestantism’s foremost apologists, has taken the incredible position that though this very human-looking process was not guided by God, it somehow got the books of the Bible exactly right. I would submit that Sproul’s belief is a much wilder (and less probable) article of faith than simply believing as Catholics do in a Spirit-guided Church.
Note: Either the author is a liar or a poor student of history.
Antipope Eulalius (died 423) was antipope from December 418 to April 419, in opposition to Pope Boniface I. At first the claims of Eulalius as the rightful Pope were recognized by the Emperor Honorius, who sent a letter dated 3 January 419 recognizing him and pardoning the partisans of Boniface provided they left Rome. On 6 January Eulalius celebrated Epiphany at St. Peter's, while Boniface and his supporters remained at St. Paul's-outside-the-Walls. But Boniface's supporters refused to concede defeat, and petitioned the Emperor, claiming irregularities in the election. In response, Honorius suspended his previous order on 15 January, and summoned both parties to appear before him, along with other Italian bishops, on 8 February. At that hearing, a final judgment was deferred to a second synod that would meet at Spoleto on 13 June. Meanwhile, all parties were ordered to stay out of Rome, and the bishop of Spoleto would celebrate mass on "the greatest of all Christian holy days." Despite this reversal Eulalius' position appeared to be the stronger, for he had the support of the Empress Galla Placidia and her husband Constantius, because he had been elected first. However, Stewart Oost believes this very strength led Eulalius to overconfidence. He returned to Rome 18 March to celebrate Easter Sunday, but this flouting of the Emperor's orders lost him the support of these two powerful individuals; the inhabitants of Rome rioted, and the Urban prefect, Aurelius Anicius Symmachus, had his police occupy the Lateran, where Eulalius had made his base, and escort Eulalius out of the city to a house and kept under guard. On 3 April, the Emperor officially recognized Boniface as the rightful Pope. Eulalius is said to have subsequently become a bishop under Celestine I. According to the Liber Pontificalis, Eulalius was deposed by a synod of 52 bishops and sent to Campania; then, when Boniface died in 422, the people and clergy of Rome petitioned him to be the new Pope, but Eulalius refused their offer. The same source states he died one year later.

Page 83: If Protestantism is true, then the basis for all of our Christian beliefs, the Bible, may well contain books that God did not inspire, or it may leave out books that he did. At best we can be somewhat sure that many of the books of the Bible are probably inspired. According to the influential Protestant voice of Sproul, the canon was not infallibly selected. Therefore it may contain error. That’s an unsettling thought, because if Protestantism is true, the Bible is all we’ve got.
Note: Will you live by the Word of God or by the traditions of the Catholic Church?
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4.