The Perspicuity of Scripture and Other Creation Myths

 
Last week, I wrote a little piece on the ways in which the various Protestantisms filter the sometimes ambiguous text of Scripture through various semi-permeable membranes in order to accept the bits of the Catholic Tradition they approve of while a) removing those things they dislike and b) stapling on those human ideas and notions they want to add or elevate to the status of Divine Revelation.
 
That sort of seditious talk immediately got blasted as a "classic attack on the perspicuity of Scripture" in the normal circles of anti-Catholic apologetics huff-puffery (my encounters with which I have discussed elsewhere).

A few words on that whole "perspicuity of Scripture" thing: It is a classic case of stapling on a purely human idea to the Tradition and elevating it to the level of equality with the word of God. It works like this: The enthusiast for the doctrine of the "perspicuity of Scripture" reasons, "God always does what is best. Having a Bible that is perspicuous is best. Therefore, God has done that."

(You can play that game with anything you like, by the way: "God always does what is best. Having the gift of tongues is best. Therefore, God demands all believers have the gift of tongues." "God always does what is best. Health and wealth are best. Therefore, God wills all believers to be healthy and wealthy.")

You can always find some sort of biblical justification for your pet idea. Didn’t Paul thank God that he spoke in tongues more than anybody (1 Cor 14:18)? Doesn’t Scripture say of the righteous man that whatever he does prospers (Ps 1:3)? Doesn’t it say that the command of the Lord is clear (Ps 19:9)? Q.E.D.! And with sufficient willpower or ego, you can trumpet your pet idea as the Revealed Will of God Almighty, denouncing anybody who questions your pet theory, not as somebody who questions your pet theory, but as an enemy of God who "rails away" at God Almighty, while "the child of God knows better." It’s a very cozy way to congratulate yourself.

The thing is, the perspicuity of Scripture is one of those ideas, like Marxism, that is the result of theory run amuck and removed entirely from the laboratory of real life. Basically, it’s a creation myth that was cobbled together in order to get rid of the need for the Catholic Magisterium. The reasoning was archetypically fallacious. It went like this: God always does what is best. Communicating His revelation in the form of a book of pellucid clarity is best. Therefore, that’s what He must have done. Otherwise, you condemn the Bible to the dreadful prospect of being interpreted by the Church and, worse still, by a Magisterium that sometimes directly contradicts what I am quite certain it must mean.

 
Since the whole project of the Reformation consisted of insisting that wherever the Church’s Magisterium taught things not believed by A Man and His Bible, the Church was wrong, maintaining that creation myth was absolutely essential.
 
The problem is, doing that requires the believer in the perspicuity of Scripture to resolutely shut his eyes to the constant blandishments and encroachments of reality, reason, common sense, experience, and the very testimony of Scripture itself.
 
To this is often made the reply that "We walk by faith, not by sight." True enough, but faith never contradicts reason, whereas the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture achieves this feat on a daily basis.
 
 
Make no mistake: Christianity has room for doctrines that can’t be empirically verified. The doctrine of the Trinity is a classic example. We believe it because God revealed it to us through Christ and His Holy Church. There’s no scientific demonstration of it. Neither is there scientific disproof of it. It’s not open to empirical investigation. You either trust God and His Church on this or you don’t. All arguments against it can be refuted by reason. But it can’t be proven by reason alone.

Other doctrines have a toehold in empirical observation (though, again, they are not provable by reason alone). A good example of this is original sin. People who deny it and assert the Pelagian notion that we can work our way to God on our own steam find that the Laboratory of Reality has proven this false in every single experiment where it has been attempted. The bulk of what the doctrine of original sin has to tell us about ourselves can be verified by reading a newspaper or turning on the TV.

But people who assert things like the Perspicuity of Scripture as Revealed Truth have to face the fact that the Laboratory of Experience is simply against them. The one thing Scripture is not is perspicuous. That’s not me talking, that’s Scripture:

 
So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures (2 Pt 3:15-16).

Standard boilerplate replies from the perspicuity dogmatist generally run toward saying things like, "Paul’s writing is perspicuous, it’s just the ignorant and unstable who screw things up."

Mm-hmm. Except that’s not what it says. It says that there are some things in Paul’s letters that are hard to understand. Yes, the ignorant and unstable muck up the interpretation of those letters. But that’s partly because the letters themselves are "hard to understand." Whatever that is, it ain’t perspicuity. And anybody who reads Paul can testify to that. It was C. S. Lewis who remarked of Paul, "I cannot be the only reader who has wondered why God, having given him so many gifts, withheld from him (what would to us seem so necessary for the first Christian theologian) that of lucidity and orderly exposition."

Heck, forget Paul. Anybody who says that Revelation is "perspicuous" is simply a fool. Calvin was smart enough not to attempt a commentary on it, because he knew it would give the lie to the notion of the perspicuity of Scripture. Luther, with his characteristic bluntness, sized the book up by remarking, "A Revelation ought to reveal." He tried to solve the problem by just excising it from the New Testament.

 
And this bleeding-obvious lack of clarity goes for great portions of Scripture. Jesus Himself sometimes seems to labor to be cryptic and difficult to understand. The meaning of the Parable of the Unjust Steward does not, for instance, leap off the page. His Olivet Discourse (cf. Matthew 24) is chockablock with mysterious passages. Likewise, the turbulent mixture of Paul’s prose is often hard to follow. The prophets are often obscure and mysterious. The wisdom literature can be clear as mud sometimes. (What, for instance, does the book of Job mean? It’s not that there’s no meaning, it’s that it’s so rich in meanings that one comes away puzzled by what to make of the thing.) And don’t get me started on the problems surrounding the "clear" meaning of Genesis 1-3.
 
 
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying Scripture is a sealed book. I’m saying the problem is not so much that the meaning of Scripture is dark and obscure as that it is bright — like the sun in Plato’s allegory of the cave. Our eyes can’t take in the dazzling radiance. We need — just as the Ethiopian Eunuch and the disciples on the Emmaus Road needed — somebody to help us understand what is written, because we can’t understand it on our own.
 
Jesus, recognizing this need, gave us not just a book but a teaching office that could help us understand the book. In founding that office, He told the apostles: "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me" (Mt 10:40). And they, acting on this, likewise ordained bishops to guard the deposit of Faith handed down by them with the help of the Holy Spirit.

What doctrines like the "perspicuity of Scripture" really mean is, "Scripture means what I take it to mean — no more, no less. The easy-to-understand parts are the parts that agree with what I think. The hard-to-understand parts are the parts that a) talk about unimportant stuff or b) must be subordinated to what I understand."

It’s a useful fiction elevated to the level of Revealed Teaching so that self-appointed, one-man Magisteria can say, "Ignorant and unstable people may twist Scripture, but I am safe from all that so I understand perfectly what Scripture means. And when the Catholic Church disagrees with me, that’s because the ignorant and unstable Church is disagreeing with me, who is not ignorant or unstable."

In short, it’s the rationale for erecting the sundry semi-permeable membranes of the sundry Protestantisms. Not surprisingly, then, the Bible teacher who claims that his special take on Scripture "disproves" the Church will react to criticisms of the absurd doctrine of the "perspicuity of Scripture" with the claim that it is an attack on God Himself. He has to say that, or his whole shell game comes apart. He has to say, in essence, "Oh sure, criticisms on the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture work in reality. But do they work in theory?" Because, as with Marxism, theory trumps reality, not simply in the experience of anybody who has ever attempted to read the Bible, but in the experience of the fragmented and mutually contradictory Protestantisms.

Normally, the standard boilerplate response to that last point is to a) deny the fragmentation of Protestantism by recourse to the "Catholics exaggerate the 33,000 denominations thing" complaint and to accentuate the differences among Catholics (this sort of boilerplate is as ritualized as kabuki).

Fair enough. Let’s grant that Catholic apologist-types beat the 33,000 denominations drum too much and don’t really pay attention to the commonalities that exist in much of Protestant theology. Let us also grant that Catholic apologist types often don’t pay attention, in such polemics, to the divisions in our own house.

But at the end of the day, none of that really helps support the whole "perspicuity of Scripture" bunkum. If we grant that many denominations and little storefront churches are the result, not of some acrimonious split over doctrine, but of an amicable and harmonious church-planting mission or something else; if we grant that, in the words of G. K. Chesterton, "Catholics agree about everything, it is only everything else they disagree about," we are still faced with colossal and mutually contradictory differences between, say, Oneness Pentecostals (who deny the Trinity) and Trinitarian Protestants. We still have serious and flatly contradictory disagreements about whether baptism regenerates, whether children should be baptized, whether communion is or is not the Body and Blood of Jesus, whether marriage is a sacrament, whether anything is a sacrament, which books belong in the Bible, and so forth. You can’t even get agreement on which issues are "core issues" and which are "peripheral."

 
And that points to the bleedin’ obvious truth that none of this is very good prima facie evidence for the perspicuity of Scripture. Eventually, what it always returns to is that the individual Bible teacher declares that he can’t see what the big deal is with baptism or communion or what not, so it’s peripheral, while the things he cares about are "core." And on those matters he thinks important, Scripture is perspicuous: It clearly teaches what he says it teaches, while on any matter where the Catholic Church disagrees with him, you can take it to the bank that the Church is wrong and he — the Famously Not Ignorant or Unstable He — is right.

What could be clearer?

 


Mark P. Shea is a senior editor for
www.CatholicExchange.com and a columnist for InsideCatholic. Visit his blog at markshea.blogspot.com.

Mark P. Shea

By

Mark P. Shea is the author of Mary, Mother of the Son and other works. He is a senior editor at Catholic Exchange and a columnist for Crisis Magazine. Visit his blog at www.markshea.blogspot.com.

  • Lampo

    This very issue was recently discussed in a thread on Catholic Answers Forums. It is a good read to see firsthand someone that adheres to the “perspicuity of Scripture.” Here is the link:
    http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=354686

  • Nick Palmer

    Thanks, Mark, for this and the preceding article. I am probably not alone in needing a clearheaded, practical way to see my faith in relationship to the various and sundry Protestant denominations. While raised RC, having attended a Catholic high school, and just past the 23rd anniversary of my 29th birthday, still as a Catholic, I find myself at a loss to explain many of these issues.

    In discussion with Protestant friends I’ve always felt a bit at a loss, while having a sense that there were some gaping holes in their firmly held beliefs. Your recent articles have been a very helpful guide to finding some of those holes.

  • TurretinFan

    Mr. Shea certainly has a colorful way of expressing himself. Still, I think there are a few holes in his arguments as I’ve laid out elsewhere:

    http://tinyurl.com/kly4pu
    http://tinyurl.com/mf8tvs

    I wonder whether Mr. Shea would consider a written debate on the topic of perspicuity? It could be quite interesting, since his comments are far from boring, and I hope the same (though less so) could be said of mine.

  • Geoffrey Miller

    I must disagree with your analysis, Mr. Shea; it’s not Scripture that isn’t clear, it’s the minds of men that are muddy. In truth, the Bible has a clarity far superior to a Buddhist koan, which is fairly straightforward to those who have gained mastery over stray thoughts and have learned to see the world once more with the simplicity of a child’s eyes.

    The Church as mediator and interpreter is a necessary evil; it is due only to our sorry and fallen condition. In the beginning, God and man walked together directly and even the greatest mysteries shown with profound lucidity in our hearts. Those days are gone, and the only fault of the Protestants is wanting to bring them back in an improper manner.

    No, we must first suffer the evil we have chosen; we refused to be subjected to God alone, now we must be subjected to all men first and only then to God. Indeed, our Lord has lowered himself to partake of this punishment so that he might be side by side with his lost creation, the man dear to his heart. Even if that man who has gone astray no longer recognizes his God, his God recognizes him and bleeds and mourns for him. It is as if the man is suffering from a peculiar amnesia, a debilitating early onset of Alzheimer’s; he does not recall the days of old when he was quite literally a god under the Lord God.

    Only God remembers those days, and the memory torments him in the silence of his inmost being, like a burning coal pressing against the heart. And on the outside, the Lord finds no relief for his anguish–only the blank stare of a fallen titan, mocking that which is no longer known, ensnared in the bonds of eternal dusk, blind to the dawn around him.

  • Mark P. Shea

    I must disagree with your analysis, Mr. Shea; it’s not Scripture that isn’t clear, it’s the minds of men that are muddy.

    Please go back and read that passage from 2 Peter. The problem is not as simple as that.

    The Church as mediator and interpreter is a necessary evil; it is due only to our sorry and fallen condition.

    The Church as mediator and interpreter is necessary. Calling the Church “evil” is not exactly in accord with the teaching of Scripture. The fact that something is ocassioned by sin does not make it evil, unless you want to call the Incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ and the whole work of redemption “evil”.

    “O happy fault! O necessary sin of Adam! That won for us so great a salvation.”

    Christ instituted the Church as the interpreter of Scripture. Christ does not institute evil.

    Turrentin:

    No. I have no interest in or time for a debate.

  • Alphonsus

    It seems that people can only maintain the perspicuity of Scripture by resorting to ad hominem arguments when faced with an opinion different from their own (e.g. he’she is unsaved, ignorant, sinful, etc).

  • Michael Hebert

    I have not thought about this issue much. I don’t discuss faith with Protestants very often, and so this issue has not fully come up. Thanks for spelling it out, Mark.

    I always looked upon scripture and God as difficult subjects. Why wouldn’t they be? If God is true, He is certainly more complex than the world He made. All I have to do is reflect on quantum physics to know that the physical world is very complex, and probably exceeds the ability of the human mind to understand it; so why would it be easy to understand the spiritual world, which by necessity must be even more complicated?

    God is true. The truth is not often straightforward, nor easy to stomach. One of the main reasons I remain a Catholic is that the Church teaches things (1) I wouldn’t have thought of myself, and (2) I wouldn’t have made that way if it had been up to me. The very strangeness of faith makes it more real to me. If God is a real, unalterable being, I should expect He wouldn’t be the bearded figure in my mind. The reality of God, or any real thing, is likely to be different from the way we wish it to be.

    I trust that the real God is not only very different from the simplistic God in my head, but better.

    What would be the challenge of faith if God were self-evident? And how facile, and empty, would a self-evident God be?

  • Eric Giunta

    The Church as mediator and interpreter is a necessary evil; it is due only to our sorry and fallen condition.

    By that logic, couldn’t we say the following?

    Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit as mediator and interpreter is a necessary evil; it is due only to our sorry and fallen condition.

  • R.C.

    Protestants are correct to complain that this number is an exaggeration; still, Catholics are correct to point out that whatever the real number is, it is an embarrassment.

    I suppose a more realistic number would be to enumerate all the various doctrines on which Protestants differ, and for each, number the various opinions they hold on it, and then multiply to find the number of permutations available.

    To list a few:

    Baptism
    - Sacrament or Ordinance?
    - Optional or Not?
    - Immersion-Only or Other Means Okay?
    - Jesus-only or Trinitarian?
    - Traditional Trinitarian or Gender Non-specific?

    Confession to Clergy
    - Required, Optional, or Nonexistent?

    Eucharist/Communion/Lord’s Supper
    - Symbolic, Spiritual Presence, Transubstantiation?
    - Wine or Welch’s?
    - Every Service or Monthly or Quarterly or Annually?
    - Traditional Liturgy/Formula or More Ad-Hoc?
    - Required for Salvation or Mere Remembrance?
    - Open to All, Open to Christians, or Open to Members?

    Marriage
    - Divorce At Will, Divorce for Adultery Only, No Divorce

    …you get the idea. As you can see, I’m just working through the sacraments, here. Next would come the moral teachings. Then other de fide theological items. Then ecclesiastic/hierarchic structure.

    But forget all those for a moment, and return to just Baptism, Confession, Eucharist, Marriage. As I scan that list I see roughly eight options where the choice is binary, and maybe five with three options.

    So the possible permutations equal 2 to the 8th power (256) times 3 to the 5th power (243), totaling 62,208 permutations.

    However, some of the combinations are sufficiently unpopular that the number of folk adhering to them never rises to the level of a noteworthy group. It’s unlikely, for example, that clergy confession would exist apart from sacramental views of Baptism and Eucharist.

    So, honestly, one can’t count every permutation as if it were a denomination. One needs a minimum threshold of (a.) still exists today, (b.) has existed for several consecutive years, and (c.) enough members/followers to be worth discussion. If one sets the minimum threshold to qualify as a “denomination” at, say, 500 persons holding a particular combination of views for 10 consecutive years, then one could eliminate 9/10ths of the aforementioned combinations. And if one were to set the thresholds higher, at, say, 1% of all Protestants alive in a given year maintained for 50 consecutive years, one would eliminate 999/1000ths of those combinations.

    So, being conservative, let’s say that there are at least 1,000 groups — not low enough? Okay, fine. Being really conservative, let’s say there are 200 groups holding distinct combinations of the doctrines of Baptism, Eucharist, Confession, and Marriage given above, each of which manages to last for *whatever threshold* consecutive years without falling below *whatever threshold* persons, and is still in existence today.

    That’s before considering differences in other areas of doctrine and structure.

    And they’re all still justifying their views by claiming those views are directly from the Bible. They’re stating firmly that if only you were as well-trained in Greek and Hebrew, and as led-by-the-Spirit, as they, you’d obviously agree with their interpretation. And so would the other 199 groups (whose very well-trained, devout scholars inexplicably disagree with them).

    To which the only fitting response is: Perspicuous?

    Riiiiight.

  • DelRayVA

    R.C. tries to do an analysis of possible combinations of beliefs to arrive at an estimate of the number of protestant denominations. I think your analysis makes a questionable assumption. You assume that various Protestant denominations actually state a belief on each of these topics, or that the questions are even meaningful to them. The non-denominational Christians I’ve interacted with in general don’t seem to think it’s meaningful to have an opinion on these topics, and belong to a particular church simply because they like the preacher or the music or have friends in the coffee ministry.

    My Methodist friend at work was a little surprised to hear that Methodism teaches baptismal regeneration. I think his response to that was something like “Oh well, people have different opinions.”

    There’s a local church who has ads on the radio which say “At we don’t have all the answers, but we’ll be there with you when you ask the questions.”

    Much of the Protestant fracturing in the U.S. is as much a fruit of the Modernest denial of truth as a fruit of Sola Scriptura.

  • R.C.

    DelRayVA:

    You’re quite correct; I am aware of no Protestant churches outside the most fundamentalist ones which insist that the prospective member hold to specific doctrines as a condition of membership. For that reason, one can be a member without knowing the doctrines of the leadership of the church.

    However, I don’t think that makes my earlier analysis, rough-and-ready though it may be, entirely fruitless. While your observation is entirely correct, DelRayVA, it would only undermine the point I was making if my point had been to catalog denominations by doctrine.

    But that was not my purpose.

    The topic was the Perspicuity of Scripture. Protestants are required to hold it in some form in order to preserve Sola Scriptura as a normative mode of identifying the central truths of Christianity; this, in turn, is their sole bulwark against either (a.) acknowledging the need for extra-Scriptural authority such as popes or councils, or, (b.) denying the ability of Christians to know what the central truths of Christianity actually are.

    If Scripture is not sufficiently Perspicuous, when examined by spirit-led Christians with adequate training, to achieve largely unambiguous conclusions about the core truths of Christianity, then either popes or councils or some other external interpretative authority become essential. At a bare minimum, one would be obligated to interpret Scripture according to some consensus of the Church Fathers — and that, too, leads irrevocably to Catholicism or at least Eastern Orthodoxy.

    So my analysis is intended to answer one question: Is Scripture sufficiently Perspicuous to allow “largely unambiguous conclusions?”

    The answer is No, as demonstrated by the variety of opinion amongst even the most well-trained and devout Protestants.

    In support of that specific point (rather than as a cataloging of Protestant denominations), the analysis works. For even if a denomination doesn’t insist on adherence to whatever majority opinions its most devout and educated theologians select, the sheer variation of opinions among the few who are willing to insist on the correctness of their opinions proves my point.

    Moreover, the lack of conviction of those who aren’t willing to insist on the correctness of their opinions, makes my point even stronger: It is a witness to how fruitlessness Sola Scriptura is, as an authority, that even they are unsure of it.

  • Greg Barrett

    Having read the article for which Mr. Shea

  • Bill

    You make some wonderful points but concern me in some areas.

    You keep using the phrase “creation myth” and I truly hope you are not suggesting that Genesis is myth or allegory.

    Throw out Genesis and you throw out the Gospel. Jesus not only referred to Genesis as fact several times but it is the entire reason He came into the world. In a rare burst of elocution, Paul explains that very clearly. Sin and death came into the world through one man and forgiveness and eternal life came through Jesus.

    Your assessment of Catholics and protestants is accurate in that both groups have splinters.

    But here is the key problem I have. I’ve lived 43 years and have never experiences a Catholic parish in which the congregants were encouraged to read and study the Bible in small groups or on their own.

    The doctrine is always the same … the only people skilled enough and with enough divine revelation to intepret God’s Word are priests. This is entirely unscriptural.

    Yes, the leaders of the church are Shepherds and they teach. But individuals are also encouraged to study and read Scripture on their own and with small groups. The Bible is a living breathing book. It is the infallible Word of God and, as we all know, the Word of God IS Jesus.

    And God does, from time to time, reveal a truth, pleasant or unpleasant; encouraging or convicting, to someone reading Scripture.

  • Monkey Wrench

    I find myself in a bit of an unusual position, as I agree that Scripture requires an official oral interpretation in order to be correctly understood, but unlike most Roman Catholics (especially former evangelical/fundamentalist types trying to prove their loyalty to their new church) I believe that all the events described in the Bible actually happened. Many Catholic apologeticists (especially of the aforementioned stripe) feel that a good argument against “perspecuity” (or whatever you call it) is radical Bible criticism of the “Genesis was adapted from ancient pagan myths by clerks in the Second Temple to teach theological principals” argument.

    Whatever one may say about the Protestant Reformation, it certainly seems to have given Catholics an allergy against total Biblical inerrancy (or for saying the Bible is inerrant, but “all that stuff” didn’t actually happen because “stuff like that doesn’t happen”).

  • R.C.

    Bill:

    Have you read St. Augustine’s treatise on how to interpret the early chapters of Genesis? Or Origen, or St. Thomas Aquinas?

    I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t, but they are not amenable to overly literal views of Genesis 1-2; especially young earth creationism.

    When saints and doctors and defenders of the faith have been willing to allow for a not-very-literal view of the creation story (-ies?), not just recently but since the earliest centuries of the Church, I find it very freeing.

    The question is not whether it can be orthodox to think it possible that the first “day” represented an indefinably huge passage of time or was not intended by the original inspired author to be viewed as a chronology to begin with.

    The question is how much longer an extreme literalist view can still be held to be orthodox, given the risks of doing injustice to the intent of the original inspired author and disregarding the views of saints who were culturally much closer to that author than we!

    However, don’t misunderstand me: I believe and profess that our forefather who sinned was a real person, because only a real person can commit a real sin and thereby introduce Original Sin to the world.

    But I’m not really sure that he would, if asked, tell you that his name was “Adam.” (I may be wrong, but I have read that “Adam” is merely the Hebrew word for “man,” and thus the Creation story is not so much about persons whose given names were Adam and Eve, as about persons referred to as “The Man” or even “Mr. Man,” and “Mother of the Living,” respectively.)

    Anyhow, I don’t take the view that “the whole thing is myth.” But I do take the view that “the whole thing is intended to be read as a poetic dramatization, rich with symbolism, using the style and conventions of myth to convey something which really occurred.”

    I may be wrong, but I think that view does the least violence to the text and puts me in the company of some saints and doctors whose judgment I trust more than I trust my own.

    And, fortunately, there is no phrase in the Nicene Creed or Catechism requiring me to hold a specific interpretation, so long as I hold that God created the Heavens and the Earth, and that “death entered by the sin of one man,” et cetera.

    Since my view is well within those limits, I can relax and focus on other things.

  • SanFran

    Bill:

    Have you read St. Augustine’s treatise on how to interpret the early chapters of Genesis? Or Origen, or St. Thomas Aquinas?

    I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t, but they are not amenable to overly literal views of Genesis 1-2; especially young earth creationism.

    When saints and doctors and defenders of the faith have been willing to allow for a not-very-literal view of the creation story (-ies?), not just recently but since the earliest centuries of the Church, I find it very freeing.

    Thank you! I was going to say much the same thing, but you said it better. I always enjoy your comments here, because you address the issues carefully and write clearly.

  • Mlelinda Thorpe

    I am not as erudite as some of the commentators here whose dialogue I have read and enjoyed almost as much as the article by Mr Shea..but I have some considerable experience in the Protestant faith having been raised in the Presbyterian church, then finding my way to the Pentecostal faith via Jews for Jesus, then the non-denominational evangelical movement, eventually finding my way to the name and claim it, health and wealth teachings of Hagen and Copeland – and the end of my life long journey has led me at last to the Catholic Church – and my relief is palpable, certain, and absolute :}

    After immersing myself in the varieties of protestant interpretations of Scripture along with their apologetics I can say with certitude that the reformation threw the baby out with the bath water and the residue left is the very disunity that St Paul argued against so persistently throughout his letters – how is it that this fact has escaped the notice of Protestants the world over?

    As to the perspicuity of Scripture – to argue for this as a doctrine is reductionist at best – and in the end self serving, serving the created rather than the Creator…

    One of the comments speculated that Mr Shea’s motive for writing this article was to “prove his loyalty” to his new found faith/church – and in that comment I sensed an envy that one could love a church as much as Mr Shea clearly loves Holy Mother Church…as I do – because the Catholic church has preserved the truth and the joy of that discovery is a gift that wants to be shared.

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