Devin Rose is a smart, thoughtful Evangelical convert and Catholic apologist. His book, If Protestantism is True is not his conversion story. It is a rather unique exploration of Protestant claims and beliefs.
Instead of saying Protestantism is in error and why the truth is in the Catholic Church… author Rose simply takes Protestant claims at face value, methodically explores them and draws the conclusions which logically flow were they true. Many topics are covered and at the end of each, the conclusion is presented beginning with “If Protestantism is true, …”
For example, on “Heresy and Schism in History” Rose gives 4 pages of the background leading up to the Reformation and concludes:
If Protestantism is true, then throughout all of the history of the Church until the Reformation, a heresy was a heresy and a schism was a schism, but the schisms caused by the Reformers were instead new branches on a tree, in spite of the fact that they caused divisions from the Church like every other schism in history had done. Martin Luther was well-intentioned and saw true abuses and evil practices by some leaders in the Church, but unlike the great saints before and after him, he decided to disobey the Church and abandoned any attempt to reform her from within. Had he made different choices, we would likely be calling him St. Martin Luther the Reformer — in the true sense of the word.
In another section, he looks at the disintegration of mainline Protestantism concluding:
If Protestantism is true, then no one Church has the fullness of the truth, but all churches teach a mixture of true and false doctrine. So it makes sense to find one that agrees on enough of the truth that you deem essential and also that appeals to your tastes and preferences. In addition, as your tastes change and your church feels less relevant, it’s your right to find a different church that meets your needs.
As a final example, at the end of the section on the sacraments:
Most practically, if Protestantism is true, then Protestants have some mighty decisions to make — all on their own, as there is no other true authority than their own interpretation of the Bible. They must decide which Protestant (Luther or Calvin) was right about baptism, which Protestant (Luther or Zwingli) was right about the Eucharist, which Protestants (the liberals or the conservatives) are right about marriage, which of their many and varied teachings on confession and forgiveness are valid, etc. I don’t envy the Protestants this task.
Each of these conclusions (and many more) are reached after a non-emotional, straight forward presentation of facts. Most objective readers will probably not take serious issue with that. Committed Protestants will have a natural aversion to where it must lead!
The book is 178 pages divided into 11 chapters (counting the conclusion), supported with acknowledgments, notes and index. The chapters are:
- A Search for Truth
- Anywhere but the Catholic Church
- A Note About Terminology
- Protestantism Then and Now
- About Indulgences
- The Purpose of This Book
- The Difficulty of Conversion
- The Subtlety of Bias
- Is Truth Accessible to All?
- Ecumenical Councils
- The Papacy
- Divine Authority
- The Four Marks of the Church
- Celibacy for the Kingdom
- Beneficial Requirements
- The Saints
- The Reformation
- Heresy and Schism in History
- Mary’s Perpetual Virginity and Her Title of “Mother of God”
- Martin Luther’s Personal Holiness
- The Catholic Perspective on Protestants Today
- A New Reformation Needed?
- A Need for Reformation in Every Century of the Church
- The Centrality of the Canon
- A Brief History of the Canon
- Martin Luther’s Rejection of Four New Testament Books
- The Seven Deuterocanonical Books
- Accepting the Canon from an Apostate Church
- The Myth of the Self-Authenticating Canon
- The “Fallible Collection” and “Reasonable Certainty”
- Sola Scriptura‘s Logical Consequences
- The Canon of Shakespeare
- The Protestant Meltdown over Questions of Sexuality
- The Protestant Flip-Flop on Other Moral Issues
- The Disintegration of Mainline Protestantism
- “I Have No Authority But Jesus”
- “The Catholic Church Manipulated Historical Texts”
- “No One is Infallible, so the Church Cannot be”
- “The Catholic Church Prevented Vernacular Translations of the Bible”
- “The Catholic Church Puts God in a Box”
- “The Catholic Church Does Not Produce Good Fruit”
- “The Early Church Was Like Protestantism”
- “The Catholic Church Invented Doctrines Late in History”
- The Sacraments
- The Unanimous Teaching of Baptismal Regeneration
- Baptism, Sola Fide, and Salvation: Two Different Understandings
- Infant Baptism
- The Protestant Rejection of Marriage as a Sacrament
- Anointing of the Sick
- The Eucharist
- Holy Orders and Apostolic Succession
- The Closure of Public Revelation
- Oral Tradition and John’s Third Letter
- Evangelical Protestantism and Tradition
- The Family of God Versus “Me and God”
- Are the Scriptures Difficult to Understand?
- Protestantism’s Lack of Interpretative Authority
- The Perspicuity of the Scriptures
- Misinterpreting the Great Commission
- Interpreting the Bible with a Modern, Scientific Mind
- Authority is God’s Intention
- Interpretation vs. Authority
This is a very readable book, easily consumed in sections. I recommend it for anyone interested in understanding the claims of Protestantism. It will be especially helpful for Protestants who are reconsidering their denomination’s direction, folks who are interested in Catholicism and all seekers of truth. Lapsed Catholics now in Protestant communities and other poorly catechized Catholics may also find it useful.
From the conclusion:
Jesus Himself gives us the confidence that in seeking Him we will find Him, Who is the Truth and ultimate Authority: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matt. 7:7-8). May Christ bless and guide your search to find and worship Him in spirit and in truth (see John 4:23), and may He unite us all as one in the fullness of the truth.