Darlene (Eastern Orthodox) wrote:
"Could not one use the same kind of reasoning as to why Islam emerged and flourished for why cults have become so popular in the U.S. or for that matter, why there are so many different Protestant denominations?
Your argument is: The Orthodox were a poor witness of the gospel by their actions and false teachings. Therefore, this led the way for Islam to emerge, becoming a driving force in the regions of the EO churches.
Now, apply it to the Protestant Reformation. The reason there are so many disputes/disagreements within Protestantism is because of the Reformation, when conscience and Sola Scriptura were put before the authority of the Church."
The short answer is that God in His sovereignty has allowed all the problems in history; both the rise of Islam and the Protestant Reformation and the dis-unity in Protestantism. But much of the dis-unity within Protestantism is a lack of applying Sola Scriptura, not Sola Scriptura itself. Local church authority with qualified elders and proper application of church discipline is certainly part of the need of the modern church today. The later flourishing of many different Protestant groups is more related to the breakup of the Medieval Synthesis and the breakup of the marriage between church and state and the freedoms of the modern world. The more unbiblical expressions of Protestantism put subjective experience and “conscience” before Sola Scriptura.
But ultimately, just as God allowed Islam to over run areas that were Christian, God, in His sovereignty has seen fit to allow all the disunity and false doctrines and violations of Sola Scriptura. (see I Corinthians 11:19) I will flesh this out more in future posts.
Also, if you back up and realize the disunity in Protestantism is not the fault of Sola Scriptura per say; but the false claims of Sola Scriptura with subjective experience and bad exegesis of Scripture.
But you need to back up a little in history on the Protestant Dis-unity. Peter Kreeft rightly lays the blame for the Protestant Reformation on the Roman Catholic Church itself, for failing to preach the gospel: “This is the root issue because the essence of the gospel is at stake here. How do I get right with God? This was the issue of the first century church at Galatia, a church Protestants see as making the same essential mistake as the Catholics — preaching the gospel of good works. Protestants dare not compromise on this issue or they would be turning to what Paul calls “another gospel”. Thus his harsh words to the Galatians, the only church for which he has not one word of praise:
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel — not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. “ [from Galatians 1:6-9]
How do I resolve the Reformation? Is it faith alone that justifies, or is it faith and good works? Very simple. No tricks. On this issue I believe Luther was simply right; and this issue is absolutely crucial. As a Catholic I feel guilt for the tragedy of Christian disunity because the church in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was failing to preach the gospel. “ Peter Kreeft, “Toward Re-Uniting the Church” (my emphasis) http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0028.html (no longer there)
Update: Unfortunately, Peter Kreeft has re-written his article, and for what I remember, Scott Hahn really criticized his statement here, and he then re-wrote this, which was in early editions of one of his books.