Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Comparing Catholics and Protestants. Part One.

In an earlier post [Pagan Worship at the Air Force Acadamy] I wrote that I considered Protestantism to be a dangerous belief system. I say this because I believe the belief system goes against the true teachings of Jesus Christ.

As might be expected, this statement did not sit well with everyone. One anonymous poster called me a "legalist" by following "rules" and thereby missing Christ's message. Amanda of steelingspoons left an url in the comment section which leads to a site that compares the differences between Catholic & Protestant beliefs. She asked for my thoughts on the comparison.

The comparison chart lists fifteen areas where there are disagreements between the two groups. These areas of disagreement range from Authority - Bible - Divine Grace - up to Prayer to saints , to name just four. Naturally, I could not write on all fifteen in the comment section; it would be difficult to include all fifteen areas of disagreement in one blog post. So, I'm going to take this one bit at a time.

I'm not a Catholic scholar and I'm sure there are areas where I may not be able to put forth the proper Catholic teaching on a particular subject. I'm hoping some of my Catholic readers, who are more knowledgeable than I, will correct me when I make a mistake.

The first area I want to discuss is what the chart lists as Authority . The site states the Catholic position as Scripture and tradition and the Protestant view as Sola Scriptura - Scripture alone. To be completely accurate, the Catholic position should be rightly listed as Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium but I'll work with what's given to me.

While here, Christ told his apostles to go forth through out the world, spreading the "good news". Obviously, Christ would have wanted His teachings presented as He had given these teachings to His disciples while He was on Earth. The New Testament as we know it was not written until many years after Christ's Ascension.....put together by the Church. Christ said, "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18)." It was left up to the Magisterium, following the Traditions, to maintain Christ's teachings. I find it difficult to believe that Christ would leave us without an authoritative Church to present His true teachings, but this is what the Protestants would have us believe.

Following the Scriptures alone (Sola Scriptura) hasn't stood the test of time. Look at the number of Protestant denominations in the United States alone; each one claiming to have a proper interpretation of Scripture. One example of this is in nearby Bartow county, Georgia where two different "snake handler churches" call home. These two churches interpret Mark 16:17-20 differently than the Baptists, Methodists and the Presbyterians who do not "view snake handling as a literal sign of God's power to the believer and unbeliever".
It doesn't take a degree in theology to see that, not only do the Protestants disagree with the Catholics on many issues, but the various Protestant denominations can't even agree among themselves......and these are the groups that claim the Bible as the final authority.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Simply because their is disunity in the Protestant tradition does not then mean that it is true to follow the tradition of the Church and the Magisterium. That is a non-sequitor.

Furthermore, unity does not mean uniformity. In other words, there is no great problem, necessarily, in having varying denominations all claiming the Bible as their sole authority. We can be united under the same fundamental teaching and yet have varying interpretations of more marginal issues.

Also, the argument from Matthew 16:18 is not supportive of your argument. Christ was not calling Peter "the rock" upon which he would build his Church. Not only does the Greek text indicate this, but Peter himself affirms that we are ALL living stones built upon Christ (1 Peter 2). Christ is the rock.

For example: Paul charges Timothy (and us) to rightly interpret the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15)...for ourselves. And again, the scriptures are breathed out by God and are profitable for anyone (i.e. not via papal interpretation). And again, Jesus Christ is the foundation upon which the Church is built (1 Cor. 3:11).

Moreover, even if Peter were the first Pope (which he was not), that wouldn't support your understanding of the Papal authority of scriptural interpretation, because Peter himself had difficulty understanding all of Paul's writings in scripture (2 Peter 3:16). This would seem to imply a level of ambiguity in scriptural interpretation...even from the Pope.

Are we really to say that the Pope is infallible in all issues of scriptural interpretation if Peter himself struggled!?

Note: I hope I don't come off as smug, condescending and overly argumentative. I'm just passionate. I appreciate your writing and it helps me better investigate my own position.

Aaron Darrisaw

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Aaron D.

Here's the problem with your analysis of Matt 16, 18. The rock is described differently in different parts of the Bible.

The Greek of Matt 16, 18 says the following: κἀγὼ δέ σοι λέγω ὅτι σὺ εἶ Πέτρος, καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, καὶ πύλαι ἅ|δου οὐ κατισχύσουσιν αὐτῆς.

As you know Petros is the male deriviative of the feminine word Petras (it would have been insult to call Peter a girl).

However, St Matthew's Gospel was NOT originally written in Greek, it was written in Aramaic, looking at the same verse in Aramaic the word that Jesus uses is Kepha, which is the same name he gives Peter Kepha. The Aramaic makes it clear that Peter is the Rock...

To understand 1 Pet 2, you need to go back to the Is 28, 16, Ps 118, 22 where St Peter is quoting from which obviously refer to Christ and God as the rock respectively.

This is not to say that Peter is God, because he is clearly a human and not God by any means. But it does show that more than one person is being described as the same thing.

In 2 Tim 2, 15, Timothy is the Bishop of Cyprus, (St Paul's successor if I'm not mistaking). Obviously he has the right to interpret Sacred Scripture as the local Authority in the local Church, which supports the understanding that tee Bishops are direct successors of the Apostles and represent Christ in the full sense. In 2 Pet 3, 16, it actually supports the need for a hierarchy, what you miss is the verse before it which I'll say: "And count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation, so our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this ass he does in all his letters. There are somethings in them hard to understand which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction as they do other Scriptures" And later, he says "You therefore beloved, knowing this beforehand beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability" (2 Pet 3, 15-17) Gives us a better context of what St Peter meant when he said that: He's telling the Church as a whole (he didn't write much), but when he did he spoke clearly. To beware of false interpretations of the Bible so don't go interpreting them on your own affirming this he said previously "First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interprettion because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (2 Pet 1, 20-21)

Infallibility means that he can teach without error. It does not imply that he can't struggle when coming to said interpretation. Infallibility occurs only on issues of Faith and Morals, nothing else. The reason he's going to be infallible, you have Tradition of the Church, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium, it's impossible to mess up when those 3 are on your side.

I hope that this helps you Aaron

Joe of St Therese

Robert said...

To aaron d
To say "because there is disunity in the Protestant tradition" it is therefore "true to follow the tradition of the Church and the Magisterium" is not an accurate representation of what I believe. Perhaps I did not express myself well. It would be more accurate to say "there is disunity in the Protestant tradition and it is true to follow the tradition of the Church and the Magisterium". The Church's teaching that Her authority comes from Tradition, Scripture and the Magisterium pre-dates any Protestant denomination.
To say "there is no great problem, necessarily, in having varying denominations all claiming the Bible as their sole authority" misses the mark. These varying denominations differ from each other in more than just marginal issues. One can hardly say the differences between the Episcopal Church and the Southern Baptists are marginal.
We find the formation of the Church of God in the late 1880's as well as an assortment of Pentecostal congregations forming in the early 1900's through out the southern United States because the "main stream" Protestant denominations ( Baptist and Methodist) were found wanting.

Sola scriptura asserts the right of private interpretation of the Bible. This would imply that we are all infallible in our understanding of scriptures......that is, of course, except for the Pope, whom the Protestants believe ( I suppose) to be the only person who isn't.

To Joe
Thank you for your comments re: Petras/ Petros - Kepha /Rock. You were much more precise than I would have been.

Anonymous said...

Well, not all of what you each you wrote is entirely correct. But instead of responding to each affirmation, I'll direct you to these articles, which anyone else who visits this site can see as well. I think he deals with the issues in debate. Thanks for the correspondence. The following are the links to the articles:



Robert said...

The writer at the CARM website does not accept the use of Aramaic to explain the "rock". This is spite of the fact that Jesus spoke Aramaic. He, instead wants to stick with the Greek texts.
His argument is that, in Greek, the sentence would be ....you are Peter (Petros).....upon this rock (petras)....petros being the masculine, petra the feminine. He says we cannot refer to Peter in the feminine.....but if Christ is the petra as he believes, then we are refering to Christ in the feminine.

As for his arguments in favor of Sola Scriptura.....he says the idea of "sacred tradition is not biblical, so it isn't true. But, he admits that the Trinity is not specifically mentioned in the Bible either and that doesn't seem to be a problem for him.

All of his arguments (in both links) simply turn back on themselves in twisted "logic".

Amanda West said...

Wow. I read your post, Robert, and thanks for taking time to look at the list and give me some feedback, because I was really curious.

But I cannot even begin to understand the convercation going on over here in the comment's section.

I'm gonna read some more about it.