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Protestantism is Subjective, Catholicism is Objective

May 27, AD2014 71 Comments

\"Leila

Please note: When I address the differences between Catholics and Protestants, I am addressing doctrinal issues; I am not judging anyone\’s personal holiness or love for Christ.

Once upon a time, five hundred years ago, a group of Christians broke away from the Catholic Church in protest, declaring that the Bible was a Christian\’s only legitimate authority. Without an authoritative Church, each protesting (i.e., Protestant) Christian was now able to interpret the Bible himself, as Protestants believe God intended.

However, this new paradigm of each Christian interpreting Scripture for himself means that there are as many interpretations of Scripture as there are Protestants. As you can imagine, this leads to a host of problems for a religion that exists to proclaim Truth.

Protestants will tell you that sincere Christians can find the Truth easily, because the \”Scriptures are clear\” — and yet Protestants cannot seem to agree on even the essentials of salvation. This reality has led to division after division after division among the Protestant churches over the centuries. It\’s a real quandary, one which many Protestants acknowledge.

Catholics, thankfully, don\’t have that headache. We know what the Church teaches on every issue that touches on salvation, because Tradition has been handed down intact throughout the centuries, both written and orally, and those teachings are accessible to all. Anyone who wants to know what the Catholic Church teaches can know.

However, something has come up time and again in my dialogues with Protestants over the years. They tell me that we Catholics have a more serious problem with our Sacred Tradition paradigm than they have with their \”Bible only\” paradigm. They say that since Catholic Tradition is not \”written down\” (except for the part of Tradition that is written down, i.e., the Bible), then it is subjective, almost impossible to pin down.

To show how the argument goes, I\’ll reprint an excerpt from a facebook dialogue I\’ve had with a thoughtful and godly Protestant Christian whom I\’ll call Brian (his words in red):

It seems to me that if there is no written Tradition (primary sources), then that makes Tradition highly subjective.

I responded:

Hi again, Brian!

Okay, so if I read you correctly, you contend that submitting to Church authority/teachings/Tradition is highly subjective, but that submitting to the written Word (the Bible alone) is objective.

I don’t think, practically speaking, that that bears itself out.

For example, let’s set up a simple comparison:

Group A: 1,000 Bible-believing Protestants (sola scriptura adherents, who believe in the Bible as our only authority). They are all “true believers” who are saved and who love Jesus, and who sincerely want nothing more than to submit their lives to Christ’s Truth as found in the Bible.

Group B: 1,000 Church-loving Catholics (who believe the Church is the final authority). They are all “true believers” who are in a state of grace and who love Jesus and who want nothing more than to submit their lives to Christ’s Truth as found in the Church.

***Note: None of the Protestants or Catholics are dissenting or liberal Christians… i.e., no “Jesus Seminar” types in the Protestant group, and no Pope-bashers in the Catholic group.

First, ask the individuals in Group A questions about what they believe on important matters of doctrine. Then, ask individuals in Group B the same questions about what they believe on important matters of doctrine. Here’s what you will find (and just as an example, let\’s use baptism):

Group A (Sincere Protestants):

Q. Is baptism a sacrament? A. Answers will vary.

Q. Is baptism regenerative? A. Answers will vary.

Q. Is infant baptism legitimate? A. Answers will vary.

Q. Can baptism be repeated? A. Answers will vary.

Q. Must baptism be by immersion only? A. Answers will vary.

Group B (Sincere Catholics):

Q. Is baptism a sacrament? A. All will answer “yes”

Q. Is baptism regenerative? A. All will answer “yes”

Q. Is infant baptism legitimate? A. All will answer “yes”

Q. Can baptism be repeated? A. All will answer “no”

Q. Must baptism be by immersion only? A. All will answer “no”

To me, this shows that adhering to “sola scriptura” leads to a much more subjective result than adhering to Church authority/teaching, which leads to an objective result.

I am willing to hear why you think my example is inaccurate.

Blessings to you,

Leila

Here is the pertinent part of Brian\’s response:

[T]he example that you give is in fallacious in a big way. The same example can be given of any organization. For example, you can place Jehovah\’s Witnesses in group A and Mormons in group B; Protestants in group A and Anglicans in group B. A general consensus doesn\’t necessarily mean truth.

Thanks for allowing me to discuss this with you.

I responded:

Brian, you misunderstand. I never argued that my example proves \”truth\”. I was only arguing that my system (true or not) is less subjective than yours. You were arguing that Catholicism\’s paradigm led to more subjectivity, no? I was showing you that your system leads to more subjectivity. So, I think I am on firm ground there.

Even Mormonism (which is false), has a system that is more objective than yours [i.e., the Protestant paradigm].

At base, the divide between Protestants and Catholics boils down to authority. If there is no earthly, human authority, if everyone gets to decide for himself what the Bible means, then we have a system of subjectivity and chaos. It is unworkable, as evidenced by the lack of agreement by Protestants not only of how to understand the essentials of salvation, but even what those essentials are!

Here is a short list of things that touch on salvation itself, about which Protestants cannot agree:

The existence of, nature of, and number of the sacraments in general, especially Baptism and Eucharist
The moral law, including degrees of sin and teachings on human sexuality
The meaning of justification
The cycle of redemption
The nature of the Church and Church authority
The existence and nature of Purgatory
The implications of the Incarnation
Whether salvation is once and done, or a lifelong process
Whether one can lose his salvation
The nature of predestination
And many more.

As I told Brian, I have not tried to prove the truth of the Catholic Church in this discussion. But consider that if God loves us (and He does) then He would not leave us confused, forced to reinvent the wheel with every new Christian. A loving God would leave us with clarity and truth throughout the centuries and millennia. And He did. Christ established His Church so that we would not be left orphans, and the Holy Spirit has guided the Church into all truth since that time.

Filed in: Education

About the Author:

Leila Miller is a wife and mother of eight children who has a penchant for writing and a passion for teaching the Catholic Faith in simple ways. This summa cum laude Boston College graduate also enjoys debating secularists, and in her spare time she fancies herself a bit of a Catholic matchmaker. She manages two blogs that accommodate those hobbies well: Little Catholic Bubble, and the invite-only Catholic Moms Matchmaking.

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  • james

    The only serious presumption I see is : Group B: 1,000 Church-loving Catholics … They are all “true believers” who are in a state of grace. I would shudder to think even the church can determine who is in a state of grace ?

    • Leila Miller

      james, it’s a thought experiment. No one is judging or peering into actual, real-life souls. And if you like, you can even pretend that I said instead:
      “Church-loving Catholics who, even if they personally sin and are not in a state of grace, believe in and wish to obey the Magisterium.” That works for this thought experiment, too. I hope most folks understood what I was trying to get at.

    • james

      thank you for explaining.

    • Leila Miller

      No problem! I was mostly just trying to make the parallel between examples. So, the Protestant faithful are “saved”, and the Catholic faithful are “in a state of grace”. Hope that helps. :)

    • james

      So, when Francis says to ‘meet people where they are at’ which
      is subjective, evangelism is objective ie: take them where they should go ?

    • Leila Miller

      Just like Jesus. Meet them where they are. Give them milk before meat. Help lead them to the Truth. While we are all in various stages of getting to the destination, thankfully the destination itself (Truth) is fixed and revealed. What a gift is the Church, the lighthouse which leads us to herself!

    • Leila Miller

      When we have our subjective relationships with fellow humans, we don’t jettison objective truths (“Hey, I really like this Protestant girl, therefore, I don’t believe in infant baptism because she doesn’t”). That’s not in any way what Francis meant. If you read his first encyclical, you will see that “truth” and its variations are used over one hundred times throughout the text. Truth is Christ. Truth has been revealed through the Church. Francis stands for the Truth of Catholicism as handed down. We are all able to access that Truth, and our subjective, individual journeys and relationships should and must eventually take us there.

    • james

      Back to the ” thought experiment ” – Once someone begins to
      evangelize do they not lose their objectivity ? Are they not in
      a state of subjectivity as well ?

    • Leila Miller

      On which doctrinal subject would they lose their objectivity? Would I lose a proper understanding of baptism if I am evangelizing? Perhaps I am not understanding your question.

    • james

      ” While we are all in various stages of getting to the destination, thankfully the destination itself (Truth) is fixed and revealed.”
      This is hardly an objective statement it would seem. Ie: your
      “proper” understanding of baptism as intrepreted by the church
      is in itself totally subjective. My point is that going into any kind
      of situation with a mind made up is hardly objective – for any
      party.

    • Leila Miller

      Sorry, what? I’m trying to make sense of your point. Please be very clear: Are you trying to claim that the Church’s teaching on the nature of baptism is unknowable?

    • Leila Miller

      Or are you trying to claim that Christianity is not a revealed religion? I’ve dialogued with so many “jameses”, can you please remind me of your background/affiliation? Thanks.

    • james

      The one who questioned (j k :0) your cuma sum laude credentials based on equating missing mass with mass murder
      in-so-far as going to hell is concerned. But I digress. I give up
      on this friendly debate since we cannot find an impartial moderator.

    • Leila Miller

      No one equated the two. Both may be mortal sins (a willful turning from God), but no one said they are “the same”. Why would we need a moderator? Why not simply answer the questions I posed, above? Pretty straightforward questions.

    • james

      Ok, I’ll try to start from your quote. ” Truth is Christ. Truth has been revealed through the Church.” This is not an objective
      statement. It’s a subjective opinion as eastern deism makes the
      same premise.and claims with their deities. My point: when your mind is closed you lose your objectivity. The answer is in stone
      which precludes objectivity. At least this is how I read it.

    • Leila Miller

      You completely blew right by the actual point of my post. Maybe that’s because you are neither a Protestant nor a Catholic and therefore don’t really care? Here’s the question you never answered:

      “Are you trying to claim that the Church’s teaching on the nature of baptism is unknowable?”

      Because honestly, even an atheist who is educated in Catholicism could articulate the Church’s teaching on baptism. It’s not a secret. It’s fixed and unmoving. Not based on someone’s subjective whims or feelings or interpretations.

    • james

      “Are you trying to claim that the Church’s teaching on the nature of baptism is unknowable?”

      It is unknowable because you have no say or knowledge of what a future CC might decide actual Baptism is. If 100 years ago someone would have said that a Pope would be washing the feet of women and Muslims on Holy Thursday they would have been labeled a heretic. You assume way too much “sincere”
      Catholic. May we change the subject to Conscious Evolution
      as it applies to dolphins ?

    • Leila Miller

      My apologies! You did address the question that I posed repeatedly. Your answer, that the Church’s teaching on baptism is “unknowable” says all that I need to know. Thanks!

      And as for foot washing, you may want to brush up on the difference between disciplines (which are changeable, and which are under the ultimate authority of the pope) and doctrines (unchanging truths, including the nature of the sacraments… of which foot washing is not one). This might help other readers, but I have a strong suspicion you don’t really care about the differences, nor what the Church teaches:

      http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/09/catholics-you-must-understand-this.html

    • james

      Interestingly enough, when we had that com talk many moons ago we were also talking objective and subjective reality. In that
      instance it was on the 3 conditions that make a sin and I pointed out that the CC in her wisdom, made the 2nd condition [ YOU must know that it is wrong ] totally subjective. You questioned my interpretation of this by throwing out a strawman of informed
      knowledge, saying I should know better.

    • Leila Miller

      The second condition does not change the OBJECTIVE nature of the sin, James. Because someone does not know that lying is wrong, for example, does not make lying right. It does not change the objective wrongness of lying. It just lessens the culpability of the person. You can understand that concept, I know.

    • james

      Yes it does change the nature of the sin. When Jeff Dormer
      killed all those people and kept their heads he knew it was
      wrong. When some headhunter in Africa cuts off a head there
      is no sin involved because none was intended. It’s a tribal
      custom. Culpability is not lessoned, it’s negated. Neither right nor wrong.

    • Leila Miller

      So you don’t believe in objective right or wrong. Got it. Rape, too, right? Anything goes then, as long as the intentions are good? (Realize that every tyrant has his own very good intentions, by the way.)

      Bottom line, did you actually read the original post? I think if you had read it carefully, you would have seen that I am talking about two paradigms. The Protestant paradigm and the Catholic paradigm. As I told Brian, I did not set out to “prove” the truth of Catholicism to him, just the nature of each system. I’m not sure you got that from the post?

    • james

      When Cortez sailed into Mexico and slowly roasted the
      natives over a fire, in the name of Jesus, for their heathen practice of human sacrifice and worship of idols he was right nor wrong – like the headhunters- in HIS EYES. If an Apache
      gunship flew in to save the savages being tortured to death and wiped the Spanish out with miniguns they would have been right, in THEIR EYES. Don’t play the morality card tactic, Leila, it does not become you.

      NOW, your system seems to me much more subjective because you carve up the Catholics and Protestants into either “sincere”, or you’re not a Catholic or Protestant at all. You set out to prove that “sincere” subjectivity can be measured.

    • Leila Miller

      James, the point of the post went right over your head, didn’t it? You are absolutely right about things we believe are correct in “OUR EYES”. Yep, you are right. No one ever argued that. Please revisit the original post, or please answer a direct question. Here’s one that I will repeat, for the third time:

      “Are you trying to claim that the Church’s teaching on the nature of baptism is unknowable?”

      I will also ask you, if you don’t mind, why you like to read and comment on Catholic Stand? What is your interest in Catholicism and discussing it? Honestly, I’m just curious. Thanks!

    • Leila Miller

      And while I’m at it, I will try again. You said:

      You set out to prove that “sincere” subjectivity can be measured.

      Let’s say that Wendy’s has two managers who are there to teach the new employees how to make a Wendy’s cheeseburger. Manager A teaches the new employees how to make that cheeseburger just at the official manual and executives have explicated and mandated. Manager B teaches the new employees to stick the buns in their ears, then rip them in half and put the ketchup on the top of the ripped bun, with a frozen patty shoved in. Can we (with minds of reason) in any way ascertain which of the two managers is a faithful Wendy’s employee? And, when we identify which manager is faithful to the company directives on burger making, can we use a prototype of that manager in a thought experiment? Or is that sort of thing not allowed, because we can’t really know anything?

    • Leila Miller

      You set out to prove that “sincere” subjectivity can be measured.

      And no, I didn’t. I repeat: No, I didn’t. Which is why I keep saying you missed the entire point of the original post.

    • james

      Well, I’m spent from debating you (as usual) so no more of this
      thread – and you never answered my query on Conscious Evolution dialogue.

    • Leila Miller

      Totally bummed that you didn’t respond to my Wendy’s example. Ah, well.

    • james

      I do hope you take up the challenge someday of Conscious
      Evolution. I would be so interested in your take on this issue
      that American nuns have thrust into the mix. I promise to stay
      on track and focused. Thanks for the time.

    • Leila Miller

      James, if you come over to my blog, Nubby is looking forward to a debate about Conscious Evolution. She is no-nonsense, all logic. Please come over and the readers can witness a good discussion between the two of you. Here’s the link:

      http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2014/06/but-they-just-know-church-will-change.html

    • james

      Thanks, but I’d prefer not to hang out on a site where the owner / blogger bears false witness.

    • Leila Miller

      I think you are being disingenuous, James. As soon as I read your comment (before you instantly disappeared again), I asked you to correct me; I had the wrong impression that you were an ex-Catholic (I honestly thought you were). I immediately corrected that (even though you didn’t give me more information). If I have it wrong now (go and check), please let me know and I will change it again. As it stands, how am I bearing false witness? Maybe you just don’t want to come and discuss with us, but you cannot continue to accuse me of lying when I made an honest mistake and immediately corrected it. If you continue to say I am lying, then you become the one bearing false witness. Play fair, James.

    • james

      Since when does an editor headline an objective statement based on “impression” ? It’s more like one of your many banderillas finally gone awry. No offense. Still, I’ll pass on
      CE over at CB.

    • Leila Miller

      Sorry, it’s a total cop out. If I misrepresented you, tell me and I’ll correct it. You can’t seem to do it, and that is curious. Again and again I will say, tell me what to correct about what you said or meant and I will do it. I don’t censor anyone. In fact, you are free to write your own blog post, uncensored, and I will post it to my blog and then I will respond to it. How’s that?

      I don’t know what else I can do aside from say that I will correct any misrepresentations (but you have to tell me what they are since I don’t read minds, I only use direct quotes that you provided and then link to the context of the quotes) and you also have uncensored access in the comments to correct me as you must, and also you now are invited to write your own post for me to respond to (staying on topic, the same topic of this post and my other post). I used your words directly, and I also linked right back to here so that everyone could see the entire thread, unedited and in context.

      No obfuscating going on on my side. So I am not sure of your complaint, exactly? Honestly, I don’t see it. Please, answer direct questions, and correct me when I have misrepresented your words or ideas. Thanks!

    • james

      You had said I was an ex Catholic and predicted the downfall of
      the church. So correct it if you want then let it go. I’m not at all
      angry about this. And I’m not going to continue being badgered..

    • Leila Miller

      Finally you answered me directly! Thank you! Yes, I thought you were an ex-Catholic from the way you talk. As soon as you hinted otherwise, I corrected that on the blog (like, within a minute of reading it). You can check that out. You wouldn’t identify what you actually are, but since you spend a lot of times on Catholic blogs disagreeing with the Church, I put you down as a dissenting Catholic. Is that accurate? And if not, what would be?

      As far as saying that you “predicted the downfall of the Church”…. that is completely inaccurate. You have claimed that twice now, and it’s untrue. Can you provide the line where I said that of you? I have gone back and checked. I never said it. The whole post is about the prediction of people like you that the Church will change her teaching. So, if you don’t correct your statement, then you are the one bearing false witness, no?

      And why not engage the post? I used your exact words, and linked to the full context. Why not engage the discussion? You seem to like to engage people daily on these issues on many blogs, so when someone takes you on directly, why do you run away? I’m truly curious. Thanks!

    • james

      ” What is understood need not be discussed.” Loren Adams
      Isn’t it obvious you and I will never agree and we are counter
      productive – antithises – to the point where only less than good
      can come out of it. I feel that way. Bring your discussion here.
      At least it’s a fresh subject as all the others are beaten to a pulp.

    • Leila Miller

      But see, I don’t understand much of what you say. It’s like you are talking through a veil. I want you to answer direct questions and stop deflecting. Concede the point that I never, ever said that you “predicted the downfall of the Church”. Why won’t you speak plain? Why won’t you be clear? Why won’t you admit I never said that? What are you afraid of?

      Nubby just put another point on the blog post where we are discussing your words. Come over there. This conversation is old, and no one is reading it anymore. I have linked to the post in which we are discussing your own words. Come on over. We don’t bite! But we do like clear answers to clear questions. And we are happy to answer any direct questions you have as well.

      Also, it’s not about agreeing with each other. We are both Catholics (I’m assuming, although for some reason you still won’t clarify your status), so the only thing that matters is, do we agree with our Church? That is something that can be objectively known and measured.

    • james

      So, after running a successful franchise the well trained
      manager decides to surreptitiously change the original recipe ever so slightly. This improves the burger so much that sales boom. Corporate noticed the increase in profits and investigates.
      When the manager comes clean they see it is good and adopt
      his changes to the benefit of all franchises. Sort of like the parable of the steward who is asked to give an account.

    • Leila Miller

      James, it is absolutely uncanny how you refuse to answer direct questions according to the actual scenario (or post) given. Why do you do that? It’s frustrating. Do you live by a principle that says “evade all direct questions and change the subject”?

      And as for your new scenario, you only need look at the Episcopal church to see how a church going in your direction will fare. Hardly “sales booming”. More like, quick descent into obscurity.

    • james

      After a decade and a quarter with all those nuns, Leila, after progressive years of studying the Gospels with ever increasing maturity, maybe I develope the tactic Jesus used so frequently when asked loaded or fatuous questions –” sticking buns in their ears,” ect .It’s just as frustrating to me to see an intelligent person walking a rigid black and white line that will waver and shift in the coming centuries. When I taught each of my girls to drive they all exhibited the same myopic habit of looking 6 feet over the hood. My first correction to them was to look waaaay down the road to get the big picture, to see what was coming so as to be aware, while using peripheral vision to sort out any immediate hazards. Their driving improved immediately. The CC has lost appr 70% of its members so don’t pick on those poor Protestants. Ask yourself, why/

    • Leila Miller

      Again, way to dodge actual questions. I am not asking you to philosophize about the meaning of abstract concepts, I am asking you pointed, direct questions which you (still) refuse to answer. It’s very telling. Even lofty thinkers like yourself should be able to answer questions and use the socratic method of getting to some truths, no? As for the death of the Church… you might want to check the worldwide numbers. Catholicism is growing quite nicely. :) Now, about those questions and staying on point… would you like to try?

    • Leila Miller

      And James, the dissenters in every generation for two millennia have made the same claims as you have, about how the Church will surely and must surely change her teachings. They have all come and gone (as has every earthly empire since the founding of the Church) and yet the Church and her teachings still stand. Who is the myopic one? Who has no understanding of the big picture? ;) And how many millennia have to pass before you will concede that there will be no “wavering and shifting” of that line? Truly, how many millennia?

    • Leila Miller

      You and another man this week have inspired a new blog post from me (on my main blog). I will post the link here later in the weekend, when it’s complete. You are welcome to debate it there. I just really do question who is not able to see past the end of his own nose here….

    • james

      So do I and we both prove nothing.

    • james

      Less than you think.

    • Leila Miller

      You must have some really special knowledge….

    • james

      ” Or is that sort of thing not allowed, because we can’t really know anything? ”
      Thank you for bringing maya (illusion) to my attention. You now have my final answer.

    • Leila Miller

      James, I have turned your comment into a whole blog post. Please come and check it out, and join the discussion if you’d like:

      http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2014/06/but-they-just-know-church-will-change.html

    • james

      Well, your point seemed to go over Brian’s head too. Maybe it’s
      a gender thing. After several years of drive by theology posts by this cradle Catholic with 12 years of instruction by the good Srs.
      of Notre Dame and St Joseph I feel it is my duty and pleasure to
      praise, critique and instruct. Nothing more.

    • Leila Miller

      Thanks, James, but if you want to fulfill your “duty” to “praise, critique and instruct”, understanding the original post, staying on topic and being focused goes a long way.

    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      Here’s my question:Is “state of grace” a Biblical concept, because if it is, I’d like it pointed out.Being saved is crystal clear, so…

    • Leila Miller

      Sure it is, Laurence. Being grace-filled is necessary to be in Heaven, no? The Bible (check Revelation) says that nothing unclean shall enter Heaven. Do you think that those with no grace will be in Heaven?

      If I could ask you a question if you don’t mind. What, specifically, is “crystal clear” about being saved? The Bible says we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved (it’s a process). And the Bible also says, explicitly, that baptism now saves us. Do you believe the Bible, that baptism saves us?

    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      I am looking at the issue of so-called baptismal regeneration, so for now we’ll have to keep this conversation going.Suffice it to say Theology 101 dictates that one doesn’t build a theological construct out of isolated verses. (Or passages, for that matter.)-I’ll leave you with this for now, Mrs.Miller: If baptism”saved”us, wouldn’t that mean we would have TWO Saviours? And THAT would be a blatant contradiction of The Word of God, wouldn’t it? -stay tuned!! (I’m going to enjoy our conversations!)

    • Leila Miller

      The Bible is clear that baptism saves us (and that is what Christianity has taught since the beginning… it’s even in the ancient Creeds). It also says we are saved by faith, by grace, by believing, by Christ’s blood, by declaring with our mouths, by works, by repentance, by the work of the Spirit, by the Cross, etc. All of these are involved in salvation, all of them given by Christ. If you can tell me why I should not trust the Bible (which I do trust, because the Church Christ founded vouches for it and canonized it), I’m all ears. ;)

      (h/t Stephen K. Ray, Crossing the Tiber

    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      No, Mrs.Miller, the Scriptures are NOT “clear”that baptism”saves us”;you threw in the usual Catholic muddle and gummed up the whole concept of what it means to be saved.Now you claim that you believe what the Bible teaches, but frankly I suspect that like all Catholics you filter Scripture through the lens of the so-called”magisterium”or simply echo the Catholic party line; you didn’t evince a fundamental ability to exegete Scripture yourself. Let’s try this:If it’s so clear that baptism is a co-Saviour with Christ, did the great Apostle Paul err in 1st Corinthians 1:14-17a? When Our Lord told Zaccheus that…”salvation had come to his house”…, what was the nature of that salvation, Mrs.Miller? Christ IS our salvation , Mrs.Miller, wet or dry.I am constantly amazed at how extraordinarily complicated these various-“isms ” make this issue, given how plainly Jesus made it!!-I await your reply!

    • Leila Miller

      Methinks you didn’t read what I wrote. So let’s try this:

      1) Where did you get your Bible? And don’t say God, because obviously we both believe the Bible came from God. But if he didn’t directly come down from Heaven and hand it to you, Mr. Ringo, then tell me how it came to you and me?

      2) Of course Christ is the only source of salvation. How are you saved, Mr. Ringo? Did you have to say a sinner’s prayer? Did you have to believe? If so, then you are saying that “believing” saves, or “saying the sinner’s prayer” saves. That would make TWO saviors, using your logic.

      3) On what authority do you interpret the Bible more authoritatively than I? Where do you get your authority to tell me what the Bible means? Please, tell.

      4) As much as you try to dodge it, the Bible says that salvation comes (via Christ) in different connected ways (see my previous comment, which you ignored). One of those ways (and which is mentioned in the ancient Creeds; do you accept the Christian Creeds?) is baptism. Baptism saves us (1 Peter 3:21).

      5) You prove the point of my original post. You think you are disagreeing with Catholics, but you are disagreeing with fellow “Bible-only” folks as well. Christians just like you. How come, if Scripture is so very clear, you all cannot agree on the basics?

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  • Francis Choudhury

    The Holy Scriptures are the Word of God. This is admitted by Protestants generally. But it is clear that if the Scriptures are wrongly interpreted, they become the word of man. For, as the Protestant Bishop Walton says: “The Word of God does not consist in mere letters, whether written or printed, but in the true sense of it.”

    This is what St. Jerome (who was the first to translate the Bible into Latin) had said ages before: “Let us be persuaded that the Gospel consists not in the words but in the sense. A wrong explanation turns the Word of God into the word of man, and, what is worse, into the word of the devil; for the devil himself could quote the text of Scripture…” Indeed, he did so when he tempted our Lord in the desert (Matt 4: 6).
    This point should be well considered by those who confidently boast that they stand by the “Bible alone”, and imagine that to stand by the Bible alone means that they rely not upon human authority, but upon the Word of God.

    Certainly nothing can be better than to stand by the Word of God, but is what they call standing by the Bible alone, actually standing by the word of God?

    Firstly, the Bible, though divinely inspired, is but a written document, and a written document often so obscure, that St. Augustine, though so great a scholar, and a Doctor of the Church, confessed that there were more things in the Bible he did not understand than those he did.

    Secondly, the Bible, because it is a written document, always remains silent unless interpreted, that is, unless some meaning is affixed to the words, by someone. It is clear that the Bible cannot speak and interpret itself: you must take the Book in your hand, open it, read it, compare passages, and attach a certain meaning to the words in them.

    Therefore, when a Protestant says: “I stand by the Bible alone”, he does not mean that he stands by the Bible uninterpreted – for in such case the Bible is mute.

    He does not mean that he stands by the Bible as interpreted by the Church – for that would be not the Protestant but the Catholic way.

    Nor does he mean that he stands by the Bible as interpreted by somebody else; as that would be – according to his notion – to give up his right of private interpretation.

    What he really means then is that he stands by the Bible alone as interpreted by himself, and that the sense in which he personally understands it is the sure Word of God.

    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      I don”t know what it is you think you know inre Protestantism, Mr . Choudhary, but you need to put your blanket away, sir; not everyone will fit under it. Most thoughtful Protestants trust the Holy Spirit to interpret Holy Writ; trust me, He’s WAAY better than ANY human institution you can think of, including the so-called magisterium.

  • EireCatholic

    As a cradle Catholic turned revert I’ve had numerous encounters with Protestants bashing me for my Catholic upbringing. Because of what they learned about Catholicism from Tammy Fay and Jim someone or other I was headed straight to hell. I simply don’t have the patience to deal with them. I now know why God gave us whiskey.

    • Leila Miller

      EireCatholic, ha ha. Yes, it can be very tiring! :)

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  • David Peters

    Leila this is a great article, and I love the way you compare subjectivity and objectivity. I come from a Protestant background and your observations ring true. I love your comments about the Church at the end, and that God has not left us as orphans. Thank God! These types of observations help solidify my belief that the Church is a tremendous blessing. Thank you and God bless.

    • Leila Miller

      Thank you, David! God bless you, too. I am so glad you found your way home.

    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      That’s right, Mr.Peters, Our Saviour didn’t leave us alone…Didn’t He leave us the Holy Spirit, or have you already forgotten HIM, in your rush to embrace the man-centered edifice called catholicisim?

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  • J.P.

    Hi Leila. You must have the patience of Job to keep responding to the “mind” of this James fella. After reading the whole dialogue between you two, I’d just as soon flog a dead horse. Trying to keep people on focus on what it means to be “objective” and “subjective” can be frustrating at best. This poor fella can’t seem to think clearly. Keep up the good work. You’re a great thinker and may I add a beautiful one, too.

  • Michael G

    Almost sounds like Catholicism removes ones God given ability of free thinking. So let me ask when someone moves into priesthood and or evangelism in Catholicism, where exactly are they getting there information from when they preach The Word / The Truth. Is it based from tradition of MAN that has been handed down from generation to generation, or are they teaching the word that God gave to us in the Holy Bible.

    Who exactly are your believers basing and hanging their faith on. Jesus?, or the man standing at the altar every Sunday?

    The Catholic church was the first church formed during the christian movement. This was commanded from Christ. But over the centuries can you honestly tell me it hasn’t become just as subjective as protestant faith. I actually have a problem being lumped into anything called a protestant faith just from the mere fact of the meaning of the wording used “PROTEST”. My faith is based in Christ. I am a christian. My beliefs and actions and teachings are based from the word of God. Now does that mean I am bound for heaven and your not, NO, does that mean your bound for Heaven and I’m not, NO. I can call myself a christian all day long but if I am not acting out and living in a way that Jesus preached and God would approve of then, If I have not fully submitted myself to Jesus then I am no better off than a self proclaimed Atheist, and actually I would be looked at in even a worse state on judgement day because I was neither hot nor cold.

    I would also like to point out your very words, “Catholics, thankfully, don’t have that headache. We know what the Church teaches on every issue that touches on salvation, because Tradition has been handed down intact throughout the centuries,” How exactly do you know they have remained intact. Because your Pope says so? Because the priests in your community say so or because “that’s just what they say”? This is basing belief off of man again. And this statement again strengthens my very first statement. SHEEPLE!

    I struggled with responding to this article because I didn’t want to come off as judging you, this I am not doing. I also struggled with how to respond because of 2 Timothy 2:14, but I also felt as though I was obligated to by what 2 Timothy 2:15 says. If I didn’t try to at least expose the truth (as I know and believe it to be) then I still am no better off (and possibly worse off) than a non believer.

    • Joel Schmidt

      If you want to know what was believed and taught by the early Christian Church, you don’t have to take anyone else’s word for it. Read the writings of the early Church fathers from the post-Apostolic (Patristic) Age (in addition to the New Testament, of course) for yourself. You can freely decide which church’s teachings are consistent with that.