Reductio ad absurdum. This is the style and flow of Devin Rose’s book, The Protestant’s Dilemma.
Now that The Protestant’s Dilemma is almost 9 months old, it’s time to give it some legs to start walking on: what makes this book great and worth purchasing?
We can all agree there are a plethora of books concerning apologetics, it is often difficult to decide which the best one to purchase is. When we see Mr. Rose’s book on shelves, next to the newest works of Vost, Hahn, Cavins and Madrid, we are wondering how best to spend our money.
Reductio ad absurdum is the Latin means of “arguing from absurdity.” It is the means of taking a notion or idea to its logical end. In his book, Devin tackles several topics on Catholic apologetics by considering the Protestant take on Catholic Tradition, and shows the reader why the lines of logic take the notion to an absurd end.
This is what makes The Protestant’s Dilemma a breakthrough and a hallmark on the apologetics landscape. Rather than jumping right into apologetics topics, Rose gives the Protestant’s take a fair hearing. This is rare and it makes books that include it timeless and among the most charitable to me. The titles that come to mind are Gibbons’ The Faith of Our Fathers and Madrid’s OSV series of Answer me This/Why is That, titles. To give the opposing argument a practical and fair hearing is not just chartable reading, it shows that people like Devin have done their homework, thoughtfully considered both sides, and have no bias in the articulation of an idea.
Added to this benefit in the reductio ad absurdum is the clear and simple means of deconstructing an argument. By showing how an argument fails, or bring its user to an end that is undesirable, the author can then move in with the argument that makes sense. Thus, in the case of Devin’s given topics, makes the Catholic faith more palatable to the reader.
Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Devin did an outstanding job of achieving both of the tactics I point out above. There are a few works that I keep handy for reference while blogging and writing; a quote from a Church Father or a slick way to discuss a topic. Devin’s book is happily added to that list. Besides, we can’t judge books by their covers, but I like to think we can trust a book by its spine. That is, it’s from Catholic Answers: it’s worth its salt.
What sort of person would benefit from this book? If the non-Catholic can be persuaded to read the book, despite the negligible title, he or she would greatly benefit from its contents. Like I said before, this is one of the most charitable books I have come across and have purchased the books from some of my own non-Catholic family. Also, the nominal or non-evangelized Catholic on the fence would greatly benefit from this title. Certainly too, the lay apologist would be wise to include this in his or her next purchase purely for its style of argumentation and the detail that is poured into the defenses given.