Volume > Issue > Perspicuity: Protestantism’s Achilles’ Heel

Perspicuity: Protestantism’s Achilles’ Heel


By Casey Chalk | June 2023
Casey Chalk is a Contributing Editor of the NOR. His latest book is The Obscurity of Scripture: Disputing Sola Scriptura and the Protestant Notion of Biblical Perspicuity (Emmaus Road Publishing). He is a regular contributor to The American Conservative, The Federalist, Crisis Magazine, The Spectator, and more. His website is caseychalk.com.

My interest in theology started when I was young. I was an elementary schooler, about six or seven years old, visiting my maternal grandparents’ small Catholic parish in the Shenandoah Valley. In the middle of the priest’s homily, I raised my hand to ask a question, eliciting chuckles from a few parishioners. I don’t remember what theologically deep query I posed, though I do remember the bemused priest being gracious in his response.

A couple years later, I made my First Holy Communion in suburban Northern Virginia, the same parish my paternal grandparents attended. It was an exciting Easter morning; I was surrounded by extended family members who loved me.

Not long after, however, my parents stopped attending church. They had gone to Mass not so much out of belief in the truths of the Catholic Church but to please their respective parents. When I started lecturing my mom and dad about their inconstant Mass attendance and the threat of Hell, they decided they had had enough. My parents were still Christians; they just weren’t terribly confident in what they believed and why. Some of their friends attended a local United Methodist church, so we started going there on Sundays. That lasted just a couple years, as my father grew increasingly frustrated with what he called “preaching the Ten Suggestions.”

When I was in sixth grade, we switched to a nondenominational evangelical church a few miles from our house. It was the first time I had heard about having a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” Around the same time, my mother started reading me nightly stories from the Good News Bible. I believed, and I began (somewhat irregularly) to pray. I also noticed that my parents were changing. My mother, who had begun reading the Bible regularly, seemed more patient. My father had initiated a morning habit of humbly dropping to his knees in prayer.

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