Recently our Protestant co-author on the site laid out the case for Protestantism for an on-site debate. While we recognize that not all Protestants hold all these belief, as there are many variations of it (something we believe is a problem in itself), we are designing an article to present a case for Catholicism and against Protestantism, and we simply cannot address every nuance. We also cannot touch on every issue in an article. Even a book could only begin to touch on all the differences. Regardless, here is our case.
To begin, we need to discuss the fundamentally illogical state of Protestantism. According to Protestants, an all-powerful God would have thousands of Churches with both minor and major conflicts. The Protestant comeback that we are all one Church is not tenable, given the inherently contradictory divisions within Christianity. Let us talk about some of those divisions.
Sola Scriptura versus Prima Scriptura
Should Christians be governed by scripture alone or by scripture and tradition? At first, the Christian instinct is to say scripture, but this is an inherently unbiblical doctrine. Let us look at two pieces of scripture, 1 Corinthians 11:2 and 2 Thessalonians 2:15. The 1 Corinthians verse holds that “I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them onto you.” while 2 Thessalonians says “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.” Both these verses are clear and undeniable confirmation of the Catholic position, and refutations of the Protestant position.
The Protestant position is not just unbiblical, but it also degrades the word of God. How can the word of God be the objective truth given to us through inspired writers, if it is up to personal interpretation? The Protestant position inherently rejects the objective truth of scripture.
No Personal Interpretation
While this is really a continuation of the last section, we will treat it as another. As was alluded to in the paragraph above, Protestants believe in personal interpretation.They think it is up to their personal fate to decide what scripture means but this is clearly unbiblical beyond the logical reasons laid out above. Take 2 Peter 1: 20-21, “know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God [emphasis added].”
The Church calls for Catholics to confess post-baptismal sins through the sacrament of Reconciliation, alternatively known as penance or confession. The priest absolves all sins, essentially wiping them away, by acting as a vessel for God. The catechism states: 1422 “Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion.”
Catholics acknowledge the necessity of face-to-face confession as described in the Bible. James 5:16 states the need to confess sins, saying, “Confess your sins to each other, and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Protestantism asserts that it is unnecessary to confess sins to one another, despite its direct contradiction with the Bible. When Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, he passed on the power of forgiveness onto them, knowing that he would not always be visibly available on earth. Jesus said, “‘As the Father has sent me, even so, I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20:21–23). God sent Jesus to forgive sins, Jesus sent the apostles, and the apostles’ ministry continues in the workings of Christ’s current ambassadors found in the priesthood. 2 Corinthians 5:20, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” The Protestant criticisms of confession are completely unfounded based on the words of Jesus Himself.
Salvation: Works or Grace
Protestants believe that one is saved only through Grace but what does the Bible have to say on this subject? The final five words of James chapter 2 make the Bible’s position on the subject clear, “faith without works is dead”.
On the question of the Pope, us Catholics look to both scripture and tradition. In chapter 16 verse 18 of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “and so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” While the second part of this is important to the Catholic faith, we will focus on the first part. It is here that Jesus gives both figurative and literal authority to the Pope. Christ says that Peter will be the foundations of the Church and the physical church in Rome is built upon the tomb of St Peter. Furthermore, every single Pope their line of rule back to Peter and the very first Christians. Papal supremacy is shown in the early traces of Christianity, in the instance of the Church at Corinth seeking help from Pope St. Clement rather than consulting the then-alive Apostle John in the first century.
Similarly, apostolic succession is supported in the Bible when Matthias replaced Judas. Acts 21: 26 read, “‘Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, one of these [must] become a witness with us of His resurrection.’ They put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas, and Matthias. They prayed and said, ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”…and he was added to the eleven apostles.” Here, we see the apostles praying to God for guidance as to who should be Judas’ worthy apostolic successor. The case is similar for both the papacy and for the bishops of today.
The Problems with Chips Article
Chip begins his article by saying that his premise is that Jesus is infallible. We agree, so why are you not Catholic? While Chip is right here he misses the full extent of the authority. Assuming we agree that the Father and the Holy Spirit are also infallible, and I hope we do otherwise Chip is not actually Christian, everything they say is infallible, even when they are speaking through someone like the Pope. That is why we do not believe the Pope or anyone else is infallible in all instances. Rather, we believe they are only infallible when they are speaking as the representative of God.
From here, Chip gets into objective Heresy and rejection of basic Christian doctrine.
Sara McDonald also contributed to this post. 2 Timothy 3:16 explicitly states that all scripture is inspired by God. By saying that scripture is wrong, Chip is directly contradicting scripture. Here we find cross roads. Either 2 Timothy 3:16 is right and all scripture is right; or Chip is right, and 2 Timothy 3:16 is wrong, but all scripture is then invalidated because there is nothing grounding it in truth. This argument inherently nullifies Christianity. To follow this up, Chip lays out the foundation for when scripture is right when it agrees with him. When Chip is citing Paul he is assuming accuracy, but there is no way for him to know accuracy. Here we find a prime example of a paradox, and a flawed interpretation of scripture. When Paul says he does not know all, he can either mean that he can not comprehend what God is telling him (implying that God cannot make him understand which means he is not all powerful), what Chip interprets this as, or that God is choosing not to reveal everything to him. Only one of these options is in line with the rest of scripture and Christian tradition. Chip chooses the other interpretation.
In closing out his argument, Chip cites John 3:16 but misrepresents it. Rather than being an affirmation of grace alone, it simply lays out grace as a condition of salvation.; it makes no commentary on faith. The same is done with Romans 10:9.
Lastly, I want to commentate on Chips last paragraph. In it, he says:
“Protestantism as a movement is how I came to this belief, because I wouldn’t have been able to question Catholic doctrine on this issue had I been raised Catholic.”
Now while this sounds all good and all, this arrogance at its finest. I am sorry Chip, but you as a teenager do not know more than two thousand years of Catholic theology. Let me take this a step further, you do not know more than two thousand years of Christian theology with your rejection inspired scripture.
Sara Mcdonald contributed to this article.