Madrid commits so many distortions of the Protestant position on pp. 11ff, that it should be embarrassing. Let’s examine a few of these:
Distortion 1: “The Protestant mistakenly assumes that every time the phrase ‘Word of God’ appears in scripture, it refer to the Bible” (p. 11). Really? And which Protestants does he have in mind? It’s news to me that every Protestant believes this. The Word of God is a broader category than the Bible. There are things God has said to His people that are not recorded in the pages of Scripture. John 1:1 proves this, as well. There we learn that the Word of God existed long before anything started being written down. And, of course, there is the whole Christology question that comes into play here as well. Ultimately, the Word of God as encapsulated in the Second Person of the Trinity is eternal. Of course, there is a distinction between the Word of God as Person, and the Word of God as inscripturated, and we must not confuse the two. But this distinction only proves the point: Madrid erected quite the straw man here. In fact, I know of NO Protestant who makes this simplistic assumption. Madrid should apologize for getting Protestants this badly wrong.
Distortion 2: “There exists among Protestants a pervasive suspicion of and hostility to the Catholic belief that ‘The Church’ is far more than a mere ‘collection of like-minded believers from each denomination,’ but is, in fact, a unified supernatural organism-a unity directed by Christ, created and sustained by Christ, and operating with Christ’s own authority” (p. 12). Now, this is not as bad a distortion as number 1 above. However, there are a number of problems with this assessment of Protestantism. Firstly, even if Protestants believe that the church is a “collection of like-minded believers from each denomination,” that would hardly constitute a good description of the Protestant position on the church. The Church is the body of Christ. She is the bride of Christ. She is created by the Word of God. In this aspect, she is of supernatural origin. She is directed by Christ, created and sustained by Christ (note the language of Madrid himself here!). In fact, the only thing I might quibble with in Madrid’s own description of the Church here is the phrase “operating with Christ’s own authority.” That is a bit ambiguous. Christ has given the Holy Spirit to the church. So the church does have the authority of the Holy Spirit underlying everything. But I suspect that Madrid also wants to include the infallible authority of the Pope in this definition, and obviously, we would have to part company there. Now, it is true that many mainline Evangelicals have a much lower view of the church, but most Reformed folk I know have a much higher view of the Church than Madrid would credit.
Distortion 3: “The ‘All Tradition Is Bad’ Fallacy” (p. 13). The heading of this section itself shows how badly Madrid has distorted the Protestant tradition. All Madrid would have to do would be to read how many times confessional guys like me get accused of treating the Westminster Standards the same way that Catholics treat tradition, and he could have avoided this ridiculousness. Protestants don’t reject tradition. Calvin quoted the ECF incessantly, for instance, and had vast swaths of the ECF completely memorized. Just because Protestants don’t put tradition on the same level as Scripture doesn’t mean that we believe “all tradition is bad,” or that we reject tradition. Now, there are sectors of evangelicalism for which this description would not be a distortion. But these are not the sectors of evangelicalism which would even engage Romanists. The real problem here is that Madrid seems to be assuming that if Protestants don’t put tradition on the same level as Scripture, then by that very fact they are rejecting tradition. Protestants put tradition above individual interpretation, but below Scripture. Tradition, thus has a middle position (but not a priestly position!) Romanists define the middle position out of existence. For Romanists, there is no room for something that has more authority than an individual’s interpretation, but simultaneously has less authority than the Scripture. Hence Madrid’s distortion.