Critique of THE PROTESTANT'S DILEMMA by Devin Rose

Chapter 12 - The Principle of Individual Judgment

Page 89: God inspired the books of the Bible to communicate his saving revelation to us in written form, culminating in his revelation of himself, in Jesus Christ. If, as Protestants believe, the Bible is the sole infallible rule of faith, God must have ensured that its meaning, at least on matters essential to salvation, would be clear to any Christian who reads it. He could not have allowed the Bible to be mysterious, obscure, or even slightly vague – even to people who weren’t fluent in Greek or Hebrew. This clarity would ensure unity of doctrine among all Bible-believing Christians throughout time. As we have seen, though, such unity does not exist. This is because, in the absence of an interpreting authority, every person is left to decide Scripture’s meaning for himself.
Note: Due to our sin nature there will never be macro unity within Christendom.
Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. Galatians 2:11-13.

Pages 89-90: Scripture abounds with interpretative challenges. Let us consider two passages from 1 John. “If we say, ‘We are without sin,’ we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). A bit later we read the apostle say: “No one who remains in him (Jesus) sins; no one who sins has seen him or known him” (1 John 3:6). An apparent contradiction exists here. From the first passage, it is clear that if we claim we don’t sin, we are liars, because we do sin. But the second passage seems to say that if we remain in Jesus, we do not sin. What gives? Since most Protestants (along with Catholics) believe the Bible to be inerrant, this contradiction must be only an apparent one. How, then, can these two verses be reconciled?
Answer: Hypocrites or liars are without the truth. Is the author a hypocrite?
If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 1 John 1:6.
Note: Biblical interpretation must take into account context.

Page 90: Let consider another passage in 1 John: “As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, so that you do not need anyone to teach you. But his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false” (1 John 2:27). The simplest interpretation of this passage would be that we Christians do not need anyone to teach us, because we received the anointing from the Holy Spirit, who will teach us all we need to know. A logical deduction from this passage, combined with the ones that tell us we are all priests, is that we do not need a ministerial priesthood and perhaps no type of pastor at all.
Note: Abiding in Jesus Christ eliminates false interpretations by hypocrites.
Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life. These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. 1 John 2:24-26.
Note: Biblical interpretation must take into account context.

Pages 90-91: Some Quaker communities do indeed point to this passage as proof that we don’t need any human authorities or teachers, claiming that the Holy Spirit teaches us directly. Quakers meet in services with no leader whatsoever, and only when one of the members is “moved by the Spirit” does he get up and speak a word to the others. Most Protestants do not go to that extreme and are willing to accept human authorities, at least so long as they are properly elected or display an agreeable level of spiritual knowledge. But they will still use this passage to claim for themselves a sort of “sanctified intuition,” whereby their own thoughts or ideas are all of the Holy Spirit and even superior to their leaders’. Either way, the idea that we don’t need anyone to teach us seems confusing, since other passages in the New Testament commend us to learn from wiser elders.
Note: The Apostles expected Christians to be able to interpret Scriptures.
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. James 3:1.

Page 92: Regarding the first two verses, on whether Christians continue to sin or not, Catholics draw a distinction between two degrees of sin: mortal and venial. Mortal sin is so grave that the Christian loses the divine life of God in his soul and thus falls from a state of sanctifying grace, putting him in peril of eternal damnation. Venial sin is of a lesser degree and does not cause the Christian to lose sanctifying grace. With this distinction, it is possible to understand John’s words as meaning that no Christian who remains in Jesus continues to sin mortally, because to do so is to reject God in a drastic way, signaling his refusal to abide in Christ. Protestants reject that notion, believing all sin is the same, and so they must interpret the passage differently – ironically, for those professing sola scriptura, by imposing on it estrabiblical distinctions.
Note: Are you practicing sin? Are you saved?
For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced. 2 Corinthians 12:20-21.
Note: Due to our sin nature there will never be macro unity within Christendom.

Page 92: What about 1 John 2:27? Do we need anyone other than God to teach us? Catholics see this verse as needing to be understood in the context of the Church, of which John was a prominent leader. The Church of Christ is the only teacher they need – they do not need to be taught by the wicked men referenced in the previous verses, which is what John was possibly alluding to in saying they do not need teachers. Even 1 John, which is a short and relatively uncomplicated epistle, contains many passages where the correct interpretations are not obviously clear. Throughout all of Scripture there are myriad others. Perhaps, as some Protestants say, Scripture interprets Scripture. Maybe those who incorrectly interpret passages like those we saw above are simply failing to apply the other passages that reveal their clear meaning.
Note: How many Catholic Church popes have sought dishonest gain over the last 2,000 years?
For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. Titus 1:10-11.

Pages 92-93: Scripture does interpret Scripture – insofar as God’s revealed truth is coherent. However, using this idea as a rule for interpreting the Bible just pushes the question of interpretation back to those other verses. And it’s further complicated by the question of which verses to use to interpret the problematic one. With the New Testament alone containing thousands of verses, how do we know which ones to choose? The Bible doesn’t provide us with a cross-referenced index. And what if we interpret those other verses wrongly in the first place? Then we are left in the sad state of using a false interpretation to interpret another verse, which can only lead to further error.
Note: Scripture should be interpreted in context. Do you love God and others?
But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12.

Page 93: One Protestant friend of mine belongs to a community called the Plymouth Brethren. The Brethren are dispensationalists, believing that tremendous miracles, tongues, and prophecies ceased at the end of the Apostolic Age, since the books of the New Testament had all been written by that point. They base this belief on Paul’s brief statement that “as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease” (1 Cor. 13:8). The majority of other Protestant denominations interpret these verses to say that these gifts will end when Christ returns in glory, not that they ended when the last apostle died. But the Brethren are adamant about their interpretation of this passage, and it is one of their primary differentiating characteristics. Who is right? We can’t ask Paul what he meant, and either interpretation could fit the text. The founder of the Brethren, failing to see the existence of charismatic gifts, went with his gut feeling that they must have ceased and found a verse that seemed to support his instinct. And so one single verse, given a novel interpretation by someone 1,800 years after Christ, caused a further Protestant splintering and produced another new denomination.
Note: Scripture should be interpreted in context as there was chaos in the church at Corinth.
For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 1 Corinthians 1:11.
Note: Due to our sin nature there will never be macro unity within Christendom.

Page 94: The problem is with the way Protestants go about trying to know divine truth. God didn’t give us the Bible alone to be subjectively interpreted by every individual Christian based on his own education, reading comprehension, interests, personality, and transitory moods. Such a scheme would make each Christian his own sole authority, rather than the Church Christ founded and guided. But sadly – and unintentionally – that is where Protestantism’s principles leave us.
Note: Sadly, Catholics have placed traditions of men above the Word of God.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2: 12-13.

Page 94: If Protestantism is true, then difficult parts of Scripture should be understandable through careful, 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.
Note: Much of Scripture is clear needing little interpretation.
For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24.
Note: Are you preaching Christ crucified? Are you abiding in Jesus Christ?