Friday, August 21, 2009

Protestant Euchre

Protestantism, like Euchre, is premised on the notion that in all ecclesiatical disputes, certain "cards" will trump all others to decide who wins. These trump cards do not go by the labels of "Ace" or "Left" or "Right Bower," but rather by designations like:

1 Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone")
2 Sola fide ("by faith alone")
3 Sola gratia ("by grace alone")
4 Solus Christus or Solo Christo ("Christ alone" or "through Christ alone")
5 Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone")

Unfortunately, like any card game, a trump is only a trump until the players change the rules. The recent decision of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to allow sexually active gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy ignores the Scriptural injunction against people engaging in homosexual behaviors. This recent decision demonstrates the futility of playing the five solas like trumps. More telling, it shows how Protestantism is truly nothing more than a house of cards that can be blown over with slightest huff or puff. For, you see, in Protestantism, for all of its bluster and bombast about how important the Word of God supposedly is to its followers, there is one trump card that defeats any and all of the solas every time and that trump is called "private judgment."

This time the "private judgment" trump card was played and voila each Protestant believer in the ECLA now gets to redefine what sexual behavior constitutes sin, or for that matter any of God's law, to suit their prurient tastes and fancies. Not even the baddest or most salacious of popes in the Catholic Church's history, like Pope Alexander VI or John XII, dared to exercise such power to negate God's Word in the manner that the pro-sodomite Protestants meeting in Minneapolis have done. And whatever the anti-catholic may wish to say about the so-called recent "priest abuse" scandal in this country, no one could ever say that the Church ever decided that the sinful sexual activity by immoral priests were no longer occasions of grave sin by majority vote.

I would be interested in hearing anyone thoughts on the subject, particularly, do Protestants believe that sinful behavior is still sin even if their leadership states that such behavior is no longer sinful.

P.S. For those folks in the ECLA who are looking for a Church that still calls a sin a sin, you might want to check out the Catholic Church. I personally know alot of Episcopalians who did and are happy with their choice to join us.

God bless!


Martin said...

I was beginning to wonder if you had given up on the internet. Good to see you still around.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Martin,

Yep, I am still around and kickin'. It is just that I have been sort of busy with my day job, taking scouts to Philmont, my duaghter's dancing, and other mundane stuff. Right now, though, I am working on a couple of topics, including a possible written debate with Turretinfan.

I will try to post more frequently.

God bless!

Stacey said...


I've always enjoyed reading your level headed, balanced, and direct comments, and this gem of a post is no different. This has frankness worthy of Belloc :)

My parents are Protestants who call a sin a sin, regardless of what pastors or confessions or churches say. They mourn the passing of each compromise enacted by different denominations. But they are alone in this, without a church to back them up, as the years pass and the compromises become greater and greater where will they have to go?

Here's what I think will happen. The Protestant and Catholic moral gap will widen until Protestant morality bears little resemblance to Christian values or Biblical teachings, all because of personal judgment. Then those who hold to Christian values will have nowhere to turn but to the Bride of Christ, undefiled by adultery of doctrine and teaching, forever subservient to her Spouse and Master, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, the migration will go two ways. Those Catholics who want to decide for themselves what is right and wrong will abandon the objective truth found in the Catholic Church for a "spirituality" that suits them better.

It's a choice, be our own master or serve Christ. The Reformation denied authority, and grasped autonomy. It only makes sense Protestants would continue down the road they began. Out of charity, I exclude those earnest and ignorant Protestants who serve God as best they can with the help of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. I only pray they find their way to the bosom of the Church.

Martin said...

It's like I'm a troll with only one comment but I keep posting everywhere how much I was amazed with "Lord of the World" by Robert Hugh Benson. 100 years ago he wrote this "SciFi" book about the end of the world. Being an Anglican convert to Catholicism he predicted just this. Protestantism had faded to a vague feeling and only the Catholic church was left. It's online at for free. A great read.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Stacey and Martin,

Belloc and Benson! Pretty soon we will have to start up a Catholic literary society.

Seriously though, Stacey I think your comments are spot on. Protestants like Mr. Swan over at Beggars All will claim that Protestants believe in the notion of an authoritative Church, but there is always that unwritten caveat "as long as I agree with it" that seems to be attached to such claims.

And that is the problem. Perhaps one could argue that Reformers had good intentions in starting Protestantism, but the results speak for themselves. As a result of Protestantism' most pernicious and visible progeny-Modernism-I really doubt that most forms of Protestantism will be around to see the dawn of the 22nd century and then it will be Catholicism vs. Islam, the sequel.

Reginald de Piperno said...

there is always that unwritten caveat…that seems to be attached to such claims

Yes. Protestant belief in any "authority" of an ecclesial body is limited to a strictly advisory capacity: an "authority" whose word might be respected, but whose decrees have no genuinely binding force whatsoever.

That caveat is attached in the name of "sola scriptura," but of course with no one whatsoever in a position to say otherwise, it always boils down to "I believe in the authority of my church as long as I agree with what they say."

I will say that there are surely Protestants who are humble enough in at least some circumstances to submit to the authority of whatever ecclesial governing bodies their various congregations have, but a Protestant who would do this across the board while at the same time claiming to believe in "sola scriptura" would be a living contradiction.

This problem was what pushed me out of Protestantism and eventually into the arms of Mother Church :-)



Randy said...

I am not sure it is fair to say that they beleive only when they agree. I know I have said it but it is not really their thinking. It is more accurate to say they believe the matter has been infallibly decided. Of course, they would deny this. But it is really true. They would say it is jut plain in scripture and they are right. But who declared it to be so plain that anyone who disagrees is not longer Christian? That is what the other Lutheran bodies said. That the ECLA is no longer a Christian church. But is that just their opinion or is that an objective fact?

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Randy, the LCMS and WELS can call the ELCA (I had that backward in my article) anything they want, but under the Protestant system, do they even have the right to call them "late for dinner?" How does one decide anything infallibly in the Protestant system?

Until I see how a Protestant can answer these questions without running around in circles chasing their own tail, I would have to say that their claim that the ELCA is no longer a Christian Church to be merely an opinion. Of course, for a Catholic, the answer is easy. Any church that redefines behavior so clearly spelled out in the Scriptures as a sin to no longer be a sin is at best an apostate church.

Reginald de Piperno said...

Hi Randy,

I am not sure it is fair to say that they beleive only when they agree.

Of course, those aren't the words that they use. Nevertheless that is the force of something like what the Presbyterian Westminster Confession of Faith says:

III. It belongs to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of his Church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same; which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission; not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in His Word.

IV. All synods or councils, since the apostles' times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred.

[source] (emphasis added)

Now really the question is: who decides whether a given council's decree is "consonant to the Word of God"? Given that all councils may err (in the view presented above), it's flatly impossible for a man to judge one council's decrees by another's; hence he is left to decide the matter for himself.

Consequently there is no other possible conclusion for the average Presbyterian than what I said: he will only believe what the councils say when he agrees with them.

There are surely some who will repent of their own views if called to it by a council. But there are many, many, many who just pick up their marbles and go to some other congregation when they're called to account.