One Hundred Fifty Reasons I'm
And You Should Be Too!
by Dave Armstrong
1. Best One-Sentence Summary:
I am convinced that the Catholic Church conforms much more closely
to all of the biblical data, offers the only coherent view of
the history of Christianity (i.e., Christian, apostolic
Tradition), and possesses the most profound and sublime Christian
morality, spirituality, social ethic, and philosophy.
2. Alternate: I
am a Catholic because I sincerely believe, by virtue of much
cumulative evidence, that Catholicism is true, and that the
Catholic Church is the visible Church divinely-established by our
Lord Jesus, against which the gates of hell cannot and will not
16:18), thereby possessing an authority to which I feel
bound in Christian duty to submit.
3. 2nd Alternate:
I left Protestantism because it was seriously deficient in its
interpretation of the Bible (e.g., "faith alone" and many other
"Catholic" doctrines - see evidences below), inconsistently
selective in its espousal of various Catholic Traditions (e.g., the
Canon of the Bible), inadequate in its ecclesiology, lacking a
sensible view of Christian history (e.g., "Scripture alone"),
compromised morally (e.g., contraception, divorce), and unbiblically
schismatic, anarchical, and relativistic. I don't therefore believe
that Protestantism is all bad (not by a long shot), but these are
some of the major deficiencies I eventually saw as fatal to the
"theory" of Protestantism, over against Catholicism. All Catholics
must regard baptized, Nicene, Chalcedonian Protestants as
isn't formally divided and sectarian (Jn
1 Cor 1:10-13).
unity makes Christianity and Jesus more believable to the world
because of its unified, complete, fully supernatural Christian
vision, mitigates against secularization and humanism.
avoids an unbiblical individualism which undermines Christian
1 Cor 12:25-26).
avoids theological relativism, by means of dogmatic
certainty and the centrality of the papacy.
avoids ecclesiological anarchism - one cannot merely jump to
another denomination when some disciplinary measure or censure is
formally (although, sadly, not always in practice) prevents the
theological relativism which leads to the uncertainties
within the Protestant system among laypeople.
rejects the "State Church," which has led to governments
dominating Christianity rather than vice-versa.
State Churches greatly influenced the rise of nationalism,
which mitigated against universal equality and Christian
universalism (i.e., Catholicism).
Catholic Christendom (before the 16th century) had not been plagued
by the tragic religious wars which in turn led to the
"Enlightenment," in which men rejected the hypocrisy of
inter-Christian warfare and decided to become indifferent to
religion rather than letting it guide their lives.
retains the elements of mystery, supernatural, and the
sacred in Christianity, thus opposing itself to
secularization, where the sphere of the religious in life
becomes greatly limited.
individualism led to the privatization of Christianity,
whereby it is little respected in societal and political life,
leaving the "public square" barren of Christian influence.
16. The secular
false dichotomy of "church vs. world" has led committed
orthodox Christians, by and large, to withdraw from politics,
leaving a void filled by pagans, cynics, unscrupulous, and
power-hungry. Catholicism offers a framework in which to approach
the state and civic responsibility.
Protestantism leans too much on mere traditions of men (every
denomination stems from one Founder's vision. As soon as two or more
of these contradict each other, error is necessarily present).
churches (esp. evangelicals), are far too often guilty of putting
their pastors on too high of a pedestal. In effect, every pastor
becomes a "pope," to varying degrees (some are "super-popes").
Because of this, evangelical congregations often experience a severe
crisis and/or split up when a pastor leaves, thus proving that their
philosophy is overly man-centered, rather than God-centered.
Protestantism, due to lack of real authority and dogmatic structure,
is tragically prone to accommodation to the spirit of the age,
and moral faddism.
retains apostolic succession, necessary to know what is true
Christian apostolic Tradition. It was the criterion of Christian
truth used by the early Christians.
Protestants take a dim view towards Christian history in
general, esp. the years from 313 (Constantine's conversion) to 1517
(Luther's arrival). This ignorance and hostility to Catholic
Tradition leads to theological relativism, anti-Catholicism, and a
constant, unnecessary process of "reinventing the wheel."
Protestantism from its inception was anti-Catholic, and
remains so to this day (esp. evangelicalism). This is obviously
wrong and unbiblical if Catholicism is indeed Christian (if it
isn't, then - logically - neither is Protestantism, which inherited
the bulk of its theology from Catholicism). The Catholic Church, on
the other hand, is not anti-Protestant.
Catholic Church accepts the authority of the great Ecumenical
Councils (see, e.g.,
Acts 15) which defined and developed Christian doctrine (much of
which Protestantism also accepts).
Protestants do not have bishops, a Christian office which is
Tim 3:1-2) and which has existed from the earliest Christian
history and Tradition.
Protestantism has no way of settling doctrinal issues
definitively. At best, the individual Protestant can only take a
head count of how many Protestant scholars, commentators, etc. take
such-and-such a view on Doctrine X, Y, or Z. There is no unified
Protestantism arose in 1517, and is a "Johnny-come-lately" in the
history of Christianity. Therefore it cannot possibly be the
"restoration" of "pure", "primitive" Christianity, since this is
ruled out by the fact of its absurdly late appearance.
Christianity must have historic continuity or it is not
Christianity. Protestantism is necessarily a "parasite" of
Catholicism, historically and doctrinally speaking.
Protestant notion of the "invisible church" is also novel in
the history of Christianity and foreign to the Bible (Mt
Mt 16:18), therefore untrue.
Protestant theologians speak of the teaching of early Christianity
(e.g., when refuting "cults"), they say "the Church taught . . ."
(as it was then unified), but when they refer to the present they
instinctively and inconsistently refrain from such terminology,
since universal teaching authority now clearly resides only
in the Catholic Church.
Protestant principle of private judgment has created a milieu
(esp. in Protestant America) in which (invariably) man-centered
"cults" such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, and Christian
Science arise. The very notion that one can "start" a new, or "the
true" Church is Protestant to the core.
30. The lack of
a definitive teaching authority in Protestant (as with the
Catholic magisterium) makes many individual Protestants think that
they have a direct line to God, notwithstanding all of Christian
Tradition and the history of biblical exegesis (a "Bible, Holy
Spirit and me" mentality). Such people are generally
under-educated theologically, unteachable, lack humility, and have
no business making presumed "infallible" statements about the nature
Evangelicalism's "techniques" of evangelism are often
contrived and manipulative, certainly not directly derived from the
text of the Bible. Some even resemble brainwashing to a degree.
32. The gospel
preached by many evangelical Protestant evangelists and pastors is a
truncated and abridged, individualistic and
ear-tickling gospel, in effect merely "fire insurance" rather
than the biblical gospel as proclaimed by the Apostles.
Evangelicalism often separates profound, life-transforming
repentance and radical discipleship from its gospel
message. The Lutheran Bonhoeffer called this "cheap grace."
34. The absence
of the idea of submission to spiritual authority in
Protestantism has leaked over into the civic arena, where the ideas
of personal "freedom," "rights," and "choice" now dominate to such
an extent that civic duty, communitarianism, and discipline are
tragically neglected, to the detriment of a healthy society.
retains the sense of the sacred, the sublime, the holy,
and the beautiful in spirituality. The ideas of altar,
and "sacred space" are preserved. Many Protestant churches
are no more than "meeting halls" or "gymnasiums" or "barn"-type
structures. Most Protestants' homes are more esthetically striking
than their churches. Likewise, Protestants are often "addicted to
mediocrity" in their appreciation of art, music, architecture,
drama, the imagination, etc.
Protestantism has largely neglected the place of liturgy in
worship (with notable exceptions such as Anglicanism and
Lutheranism). This is the way Christians had always worshiped down
through the centuries, and thus can't be so lightly dismissed.
Protestantism tends to oppose matter and spirit, favoring the
latter, and is somewhat Gnostic or Docetic in this regard.
upholds the "incarnational principle," wherein Jesus became
flesh and thus raised flesh and matter to new spiritual heights.
Protestantism greatly limits or disbelieves in sacramentalism,
which is simply the extension of the incarnational principle and the
belief that matter can convey grace. Some sects (e.g., Baptists,
many Pentecostals) reject all sacraments.
Protestants' excessive mistrust of the flesh ("carnality")
often leads to (in evangelicalism or fundamentalism) an absurd
legalism (no dancing, drinking, card-playing, rock music, etc.).
Protestants tend to separate life into categories of "spiritual"
and "carnal," as if God is not Lord of all of life. It forgets
that all non-sinful endeavors are ultimately spiritual.
Protestantism has removed the Eucharist from the center and
focus of Christian worship services. Some Protestants observe it
only monthly, or even quarterly. This is against the Tradition of
the early Church.
Protestants regard the Eucharist symbolically, which is
contrary to universal Christian Tradition up to 1517, and the Bible
1 Cor 10:14-22;
1 Cor 11:23-30), which hold to the Real Presence (another
instance of the antipathy to matter).
Protestantism has virtually ceased to regard marriage as a
sacrament, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Mt
1 Cor 7:14;
1 Cor 7:39;
Protestantism has abolished the priesthood (Mt
18:18) and the sacrament of ordination, contrary to Christian
Tradition and the Bible (Acts
1 Tim 4:14;
2 Tim 1:6).
retains the Pauline notion of the spiritual practicality of a
celibate clergy (e.g.,
1 Cor 7:8,
1 Cor 7:27,
1 Cor 7:32-33).
Protestantism has largely rejected the sacrament of confirmation
Heb 6:2-4), contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible.
Protestants have denied infant baptism, contrary to Christian
Tradition and the Bible (Acts
1 Cor 1:16;
Col 2:11-12). Protestantism is divided into five major camps on
the question of baptism.
49. The great
majority of Protestants deny baptismal regeneration, contrary
to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Mk
1 Cor 6:11;
have rejected the sacrament of anointing of the sick (Extreme
Unction / "Last Rites"), contrary to Christian Tradition and the
1 Cor 12:9,
1 Cor 12:30;
Protestantism denies the indissolubility of sacramental marriage
and allows divorce, contrary to Christian Tradition and the
1 Cor 7:10-14;
1 Cor 7:39).
Protestantism doesn't believe procreation to be the primary
purpose and benefit of marriage (it isn't part of the vows, as in
Catholic matrimony), contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Gen
Protestantism sanctions contraception, in defiance of
universal Christian Tradition (Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant)
up until 1930 - when the Anglicans first allowed it - and the Bible
Lk 1:24-25). Now, only Catholicism retains the ancient Tradition
against the "anti-child" mentality.
Protestantism (mostly its liberal wing) has accepted abortion
as a moral option, contrary to universal Christian Tradition until
recently (sometime after 1930), and the Bible (e.g.,
Protestantism (largely liberal denominations) allow women pastors
(and even bishops, as in Anglicanism), contrary to Christian
Tradition (inc. traditional Protestant theology) and the Bible (Mt
1 Tim 2:11-15;
1 Tim 3:1-12;
Protestantism is, more and more, formally and officially
compromising with currently fashionable radical feminism,
which denies the roles of men and women, as taught in the Bible (Gen
1 Cor 11:3-10) and maintained by Christian Tradition
(differentiation of roles, but not of equality).
Protestantism is also currently denying, with increasing frequency,
the headship of the husband in marriage, which is based upon
the headship of the Father over the Son (while equal in essence) in
the Trinity, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (1 Cor
1 Pet 3:1-2). This too, is based on
a relationship of equality (1 Cor 11:11-12;
Protestantism (most notably Anglicanism) has even ordained
practicing homosexuals as pastors and blessed their "marriages,"
or taught that homosexuality is merely an involuntary, "alternate"
lifestyle, contrary to formerly universal Christian Tradition, as
the Bible clearly teaches (Gen 19:4-25;
1 Cor 6:9).
Catholicism stands firm on traditional morality.
Protestantism, and evangelicalism increasingly, have accepted
"higher critical" methods of biblical interpretation which lead
to the destruction of the traditional Christian reverence for the
Bible, and demote it to the status of largely a human, fallible
document, to the detriment of its divine, infallible essence.
liberal Protestants have thrown out many cardinal doctrines
of Christianity, such as the Incarnation, Virgin Birth, the Bodily
Resurrection of Christ, the Trinity, Original Sin, hell, the
existence of the devil, miracles, etc.
founders of Protestantism denied, and Calvinists today deny, the
reality of human free will (Luther's favorite book was his
Bondage of the Will). This is both contrary to the constant
premise of the Bible, Christian Tradition, and common sense.
Protestantism had a deficient view of the Fall of Man,
thinking that the result was "total depravity." According to Luther,
Zwingli, Calvin, and Calvinists, man could only do evil of his own
volition, and had no free will to do good. He now has a "sin
nature." Catholicism believes that, in a mysterious way, man
cooperates with the grace which always precedes all good actions. In
Catholicism, man's nature still retains some good, although he has a
propensity to sin ("concupiscence").
Protestantism, and Calvinism today, make God the author of evil.
He supposedly wills that men do evil and violate His precepts
without having any free will to do so. This is blasphemous, and
turns God into a demon.
(man having no free will), God, in classical Protestant and
Calvinist thought, predestines men to hell, although they had
no choice or say in the matter all along!
Protestantism and Calvinism, teach falsely that Jesus died only
for the elect (i.e., those who will make it to heaven).
Protestantism (esp. Luther), and Calvinism, due to their false view
of the Fall, deny the efficacy and capacity of human reason
to know God to some extent (both sides agree that revelation and
grace are also necessary), and oppose it to God and faith, contrary
to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Mk 12:28;
Acts 19:8). The best Protestant
apologists today simply hearken back to the Catholic heritage of St.
Aquinas, St. Augustine, and many other great thinkers.
or charismatic Protestantism places much too high an emphasis on
spiritual experience, not balancing it properly with reason, the
Bible, and Tradition (including the authority of the Church to
pronounce on the validity of "private revelations").
Protestants (e.g., many Baptists) deny that spiritual gifts
such as healing are present in the current age (supposedly they
ceased with the apostles).
Protestantism has contradictory views of church government,
or ecclesiology (episcopal, Presbyterian, congregational, or no
collective authority at all), thus making discipline, unity and
order impossible. Some sects even claim to have "apostles" or
"prophets" among them, with all the accompanying abuses of authority
Protestantism (esp. evangelicalism) has an undue fascination for the
"end of the world," which has led to unbiblical date-setting
Lk 12:39-40) and much human tragedy among those
who are taken in by such false prophecies.
Evangelicalism's over-emphasis on the "imminent end" of the age has
often led to a certain "pie-in-the sky" mentality, to the
detriment of social, political, ethical, and economic sensibilities
here on earth.
thought has the defining characteristic of being "dichotomous,"
i.e., it separates ideas into more or less exclusive and
mutually-hostile camps, when in fact many of the dichotomies are
simply complementary rather than contradictory. Protestantism is
"either-or," whereas Catholicism takes a "both-and" approach.
Protestantism pits the Word (the Bible, preaching) against
Protestantism sets up inner devotion and piety against the
Protestantism opposes spontaneous worship to form prayers.
Protestantism separates the Bible from the Church.
Protestantism creates the false dichotomy of Bible vs. Tradition.
Protestantism pits Tradition against the Holy Spirit.
Protestantism considers Church authority and individual
liberty and conscience contradictory.
Protestantism (esp. Luther) sets up the Old Testament against the
New Testament, even though Jesus did not do so (Mt 5:17-19;
81. On equally
unbiblical grounds, Protestantism opposes law to grace.
Protestantism creates a false dichotomy between symbolism and
sacramental reality (e.g., baptism, Eucharist).
Protestantism separates the Individual from Christian
community (1 Cor 12:14-27).
Protestantism pits the veneration of saints against the
worship of God. Catholic theology doesn't permit worship of saints
in the same fashion as that directed towards God. Saints are
revered and honored, not adored, as only God the Creator
anti-historical outlook of many Protestants leads to individuals
thinking that the Holy Spirit is speaking to them, but has not, in
effect, spoken to the multitudes of Christians for 1500 years before
86. Flaws in
original Protestant thought have led to even worse errors in
reaction. E.g., extrinsic justification, devised to assure the
predominance of grace, came to prohibit any outward sign of its
presence ("faith vs. works," "sola fide"). Calvinism, with its cruel
God, turned men off to such an extent that they became Unitarians
(as in New England). Many founders of cults of recent origin started
out Calvinist (Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science, The Way
Evangelicalism is unbiblically obsessed (in typically American
fashion) with celebrities (TV Evangelists).
Evangelicalism is infatuated with the false idea that great
numbers in a congregation (or rapid growth) are a sign of God's
presence in a special way, and His unique blessing. They forget that
Mormonism is also growing by leaps and bounds. God calls us to
faithfulness rather than to "success," obedience, not flattering
Evangelicalism often emphasizes numerical growth rather than
individual spiritual growth.
Evangelicalism is presently obsessed with self-fulfillment,
self-help, and oftentimes, outright selfishness, rather than the
traditional Christian stress on suffering, sacrifice, and service.
Evangelicalism has a truncated and insufficient view of the place of
suffering in the Christian life. Instead, "health-and-wealth"
and "name-it-and-claim-it" movements within Pentecostal
Protestantism are flourishing, which have a view of possessions not
in harmony with the Bible and Christian Tradition.
Evangelicalism has, by and large, adopted a worldview which is, in
many ways, more capitalist than Christian. Wealth and
personal gain is sought more than godliness, and is seen as a proof
of God's favor, as in Puritan, and secularized American thought,
over against the Bible and Christian teaching.
Evangelicalism is increasingly tolerating far-left political
outlooks not in accord with Christian views, esp. at its
seminaries and colleges.
Evangelicalism is increasingly tolerating theological heterodoxy
and liberalism, to such an extent that many evangelical leaders
are alarmed, and predict a further decay of orthodox standards.
"Positive confession" movements in Pentecostal evangelicalism
have adopted views of God (in effect) as a "cosmic bellhop," subject
to man's frivolous whims and desires of the moment, thus denying
God's absolute sovereignty and prerogative to turn down any
of man's improper prayer requests (Jas 4:3;
1 Jn 5:14).
96. The above
sects usually teach that anyone can be healed who has enough
"faith," contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (e.g., Job,
St. Paul's "thorn in the flesh," usu. considered a disease by most
Evangelicalism, by its own self-critiques, is badly infected with
pragmatism, the false philosophical view that "whatever works is
true, or right." The gospel, esp. on TV, is sold in the same way
that McDonalds hawks hamburgers. Technology, mass-market and public
relations techniques have largely replaced personal pastoral care
and social concern for the downtrodden, irreligious, and unchurched
in evangelicalism, is increasingly seen as a psychological
failure or a lack of self-esteem, rather than the willful revolt
against God that it is.
Protestantism, in all essential elements, merely borrows
wholesale from Catholic Tradition, or distorts the same.
All doctrines upon which Catholics and Protestants agree, are
clearly Catholic in origin (Trinity, Virgin Birth, Resurrection, 2nd
Coming, Canon of the Bible, heaven, hell, etc.). Those where
Protestantism differs are usually distortions of Catholic
forerunners. E.g., Quakerism is a variant of Catholic Quietism.
Calvinism is an over-obsession with the Catholic idea of the
sovereignty of God, but taken to lengths beyond what Catholicism
ever taught (denial of free will, total depravity, double
predestination, etc.). Protestant dichotomies such as faith vs.
works, come from nominalism, which was itself a corrupt form of
Scholasticism, never dogmatically sanctioned by the Catholic Church.
Whatever life or truth is present in each Protestant idea, always is
derived from Catholicism, which is the fulfillment of the deepest
and best aspirations within Protestantism.
100. One of
Protestantism's foundational principles is sola Scriptura,
which is neither a biblical (see below), historical (nonexistent
until the 16th century), nor logical (it's self-defeating) idea:
101. The Bible
doesn't contain the whole of Jesus' teaching, or
Christianity, as many Protestants believe (Mk 4:33;
Scriptura is an abuse of the Bible, since it is a use of the
Bible contrary to its explicit and implicit testimony about
itself and Tradition. An objective reading of the Bible leads
one to Tradition and the Catholic Church, rather than the opposite.
The Bible is, in fact, undeniably a Christian Tradition itself!
103. The NT
was neither written nor received as the Bible at first, but only
gradually so (i.e., early Christianity couldn't have believed in
sola Scriptura like current Protestants, unless it referred to
the OT alone).
Tradition is not a bad word in the Bible. Gk. paradosis
refers to something handed on from one to another (good or bad).
Good (Christian) Tradition is spoken of in
1 Cor 11:2;
2 Thess 2:15,
2 Thess 3:6, and
Col 2:8. In the latter it is contrasted with traditions of
Christian Tradition, according to the Bible, can be oral as
well as written (2 Thess 2:15;
2 Tim 1:13-14;
2 Tim 2:2). St. Paul
makes no qualitative distinction between the two forms.
phrases "word of God" or "word of the Lord" in Acts
and the epistles almost always refer to oral preaching, not
to the Bible itself. Much of the Bible was originally oral (e.g.,
Jesus' entire teaching- He wrote nothing -St. Peter's sermon at
to many Protestant claims, Jesus didn't condemn all tradition
any more than St. Paul did. E.g.,
Mk 7:13, where He
condemns corrupt Pharisaical tradition only. He says "your
paradidomi, or "delivering" Christian, apostolic Tradition
1 Cor 11:23;
1 Cor 15:3;
2 Pet 2:21;
Paralambano, or "receiving" Christian Tradition occurs in
1 Cor 15:1-2;
1 Thess 2:13.
concepts of "Tradition," "gospel," "word of God," "doctrine," and
"the Faith" are essentially synonymous, and all are predominantly
oral. E.g., in the Thessalonian epistles alone St. Paul uses 3 of
these interchangeably (2 Thess 2:15;
2 Thess 3:6;
1 Thess 2:9,13 (cf.
Acts 8:14). If Tradition is a dirty word, then so is
"gospel" and "word of God"!
110. St. Paul,
1 Tim 3:15, puts the Church above Bible as the grounds for
truth, as in Catholicism.
Protestantism's chief "proof text" for sola Scriptura, 2
Tim 3:16, fails, since it says that the Bible is profitable,
but not sufficient for learning and righteousness. Catholicism
agrees it is great for these purposes, but not exclusively so, as in
Protestantism. Secondly, when St. Paul speaks of "Scripture" here,
the NT didn't yet exist (not definitively for over 300 more years),
thus he is referring to the OT only. This would mean that NT wasn't
necessary for the rule of faith, if sola Scriptura were true,
and if it were supposedly alluded to in this verse!
112. The above
11 factors being true, Catholicism maintains that all its
Tradition is consistent with the Bible, even where the Bible is
mute or merely implicit on a subject. For Catholicism, every
doctrine need not be found primarily in the Bible, for this is
Protestantism's principle of sola Scriptura. On the other
hand, most Catholic theologians claim that all Catholic doctrines
can be found in some fashion in the Bible, in kernel form, or by
(usu. extensive) inference.
thoughtful evangelical scholars have pointed out, an unthinking
sola Scriptura position can turn into "bibliolatry,"
almost a worship of the Bible rather than God who is its Author.
This mentality is similar to the Muslim view of Revelation, where no
human elements whatsoever were involved. Sola Scriptura,,
rightly understood from a more sophisticated Protestant perspective,
means that the Bible is the final authority in Christianity, not the
record of all God has said and done, as many evangelicals believe.
Christianity is unavoidably and intrinsically historical. All
the events of Jesus' life (Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection,
Ascension, etc.) were historical, as was the preaching of the
apostles. Tradition, therefore, of some sort, is unavoidable,
contrary to numerous shortsighted Protestant claims that sola
Scriptura annihilates Tradition. This is true both for matters
great (ecclesiology, trinitarianism, justification) and small
(church budgets, type of worship music, lengths of sermons, etc.).
Every denial of a particular tradition involves a bias (hidden or
open) towards one's own alternate tradition (E.g., if all Church
authority is spurned, even individualistic autonomy is a
"tradition," which ought to be defended as a Christian view in some
Scriptura literally couldn't have been true, practically
speaking, for most Christians throughout history, since the
movable-type printing press only appeared in the mid-15th century.
Preaching and oral Tradition, along with things like devotional
practices, Christian holidays, church architecture and other sacred
art, were the primary carriers of the gospel for 1400 years. For all
these centuries, sola Scriptura would have been regarded as
an absurd abstraction and impossibility.
Protestantism claims that the Catholic Church has "added to the
Bible." The Catholic Church replies that it has merely drawn out
the implications of the Bible (development of doctrine), and
followed the understanding of the early Church, and that Protestants
have "subtracted" from the Bible by ignoring large portions of it
which suggest Catholic positions. Each side thinks the other is
"unbiblical," but in different ways.
Scriptura is Protestantism's "Achilles' Heel." Merely invoking
sola Scriptura is no solution to the problem of authority and
certainty as long as multiple interpretations exist. If the Bible
were so clear that all Protestants agreed simply by reading it with
a willingness to accept and follow its teaching, this would be one
thing, but since this isn't the case by a long shot (the
multiplicity of denominations), sola Scriptura is a
pipe-dream at best. About all that all Protestants agree on is that
Catholicism is wrong! Of all Protestant ideas, the "clarity" or
perspicuity of the Bible is surely one of the most absurd and
the most demonstrably false by the historical record.
another way, having a Bible does not render one's private judgment
infallible. Interpretation is just as inevitable as tradition.
The Catholic Church therefore, is absolutely necessary in order to
speak authoritatively and to prevent confusion, error, and division.
Catholicism doesn't regard the Bible as obscure, mysterious, and
inaccessible, but it is vigilant to protect it from all arbitrary
and aberrant exegesis (2 Pet 1:20, 3:16). The best Protestant
traditions seek to do the same, but are inadequate and ineffectual
since they are divided.
Protestantism has a huge problem with the Canon of the NT.
The process of determining the exact books which constitute the NT
lasted until 397 A.D., when the Council of Carthage spoke with
finality, certainly proof that the Bible is not
"self-authenticating," as Protestantism believes. Some sincere,
devout, and learned Christians doubted the canonicity of some books
which are now in the Bible, and others considered books as Scripture
which were not at length included in the Canon. St. Athanasius in
367 was the first to list all 27 books in the NT as Scripture.
Council of Carthage, in deciding the Canon of the entire Bible in
397, included the so-called "Apocryphal" books, which
Protestants kicked out of the Bible (i.e., a late tradition). Prior
to the 16th century Christians considered these books Scripture, and
they weren't even separated from the others, as they are today in
the Protestant Bibles which include them. Protestantism accepts the
authority of this Council for the NT, but not the OT, just as it
arbitrarily and selectively accepts or denies other conciliar
decrees, according to their accord with existing Protestant "dogmas"
to Protestant anti-Catholic myth, the Catholic Church has always
revered the Bible, and hasn't suppressed it (it protested some
Protestant translations, but Protestants have often done the same
regarding Catholic versions). This is proven by the laborious care
of monks in protecting and copying manuscripts, and the constant
translations into vernacular tongues (as opposed to the falsehoods
about only Latin Bibles), among other plentiful and indisputable
historical evidences. The Bible is a Catholic book, and no
matter how much Protestants study it and proclaim it as peculiarly
their own, they must acknowledge their undeniable debt to the
Catholic Church for having decided the Canon, and for preserving the
Bible intact for 1400 years. How could the Catholic Church be
"against the Bible," as anti-Catholics say, yet at the same time
preserve and revere the Bible profoundly for so many years? The very
thought is so absurd as to be self-refuting. If Catholicism is
indeed as heinous as anti-Catholics would have us believe,
Protestantism ought to put together its own Bible, instead of using
the one delivered to them by the Catholic Church, as it obviously
could not be trusted!
Protestantism denies the Sacrifice of the Mass, contrary to
Christian Tradition and the Bible (Gen 14:18;
Catholicism, it must be emphasized, doesn't believe that Jesus is
sacrificed over and over at each Mass; rather, each Mass is a
representation of the one Sacrifice at Calvary on the Cross, which
transcends space and time, as in
Protestantism disbelieves, by and large, in the development of
doctrine, contrary to Christian Tradition and many implicit
biblical indications. Whenever the Bible refers to the increasing
knowledge and maturity of Christians individually and (particularly)
collectively, an idea similar to development is present. Further,
many doctrines develop in the Bible before our eyes ("progressive
revelation"). Examples: the afterlife, the Trinity, acceptance of
Gentiles. And doctrines which Protestantism accepts whole and entire
from Catholicism, such as the Trinity and the Canon of the Bible,
developed in history, in the first three centuries of Christianity.
It is foolish to try and deny this. The Church is the "Body" of
Christ, and is a living organism, which grows and develops like all
living bodies. It is not a statue, simply to be cleaned and polished
over time, as many Protestants seem to think.
Protestantism separates justification from sanctification,
contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (e.g.,
1 Cor 6:11;
1 Pet 1:2).
Protestantism pits faith against works (sola fide),
which is a rejection of Christian Tradition and the explicit
teaching of the Bible (Mt 25:31-46;
1 Thess 1:3;
2 Thess 1:11;
Jas 2:14-16). These passages also indicate that
salvation is a process, not an instantaneous event, as in
Protestantism rejects the Christian Tradition and biblical teaching
of merit, or differential reward for our good deeds
done in faith (Mt 16:27;
1 Cor 3:8-9;
1 Pet 1:17;
Protestantism's teaching of extrinsic, imputed, forensic, or
external justification contradicts the Christian Tradition
and biblical doctrine of infused, actual, internal,
transformational justification (which inc. sanctification):
2 Cor 5:17;
1 Jn 1:7-9.
Protestants (esp. Presbyterians, Calvinists and Baptists) believe in
eternal security, or, perseverance of the saints (the belief
that one can't lose his "salvation," supposedly obtained at one
point in time). This is contrary to Christian Tradition and the
1 Cor 9:27;
1 Tim 1:19-20;
1 Tim 4:1;
1 Tim 5:15;
2 Pet 2:15,
2 Pet 2:20-21;
to Protestant myth and anti-Catholicism, the Catholic Church doesn't
teach that one is saved by works apart from preceding and
enabling grace, but that faith and works are inseparable,
as in James 1 and 2. This heresy of which Catholicism is often
charged, was in fact condemned by the Catholic Church at the Second
Council of Orange in 529 A.D. It is known as Pelagianism, the
view that man could save himself by his own natural efforts, without
the necessary supernatural grace from God. A more moderate view,
Semi-Pelagianism, was likewise condemned. To continue to accuse
the Catholic Church of this heresy is a sign of both prejudice and
manifest ignorance of the history of theology, as well as the clear
Catholic teaching of the Council of Trent (1545-63), available for
all to see. Yet the myth is strangely prevalent.
Protestantism has virtually eliminated the practice of confession
to a priest (or at least a pastor), contrary to Christian Tradition
and the Bible (Mt 16:19;
Protestantism disbelieves in penance, or temporal punishment
for (forgiven) sin, over against Christian Tradition and the Bible
2 Sam 12:13-14;
1 Cor 11:27-32;
Protestantism has little concept of the Tradition and biblical
doctrine of mortifying the flesh, or, suffering with Christ:
Mt 10:38; 16:24: Rom 8:13,17; 1 Cor 12:24-6; Phil 3:10; 1 Pet
Protestantism has lost the Tradition and biblical doctrine of
vicarious atonement, or redemptive suffering with Christ,
of Christians for the sake of each other: Ex 32:30-32; Num 16:43-8;
25:6-13; 2 Cor 4:10; Col 1:24; 2 Tim 4:6.
Protestantism has rejected the Tradition and biblical doctrine of
purgatory, as a consequence of its false view of justification
and penance, despite sufficient evidence in Scripture: Is 4:4;
6:5-7; Micah 7:8-9; Mal 3:1-4; 2 Maccabees 12:39-45; Mt 5:25-6;
12:32; Lk 16:19-31 (cf. Eph 4:8-10; 1 Pet 3:19-20); 1 Cor 3:11-15; 2
Cor 5:10; Rev 21:27.
Protestantism has rejected (largely due to misconceptions and
misunderstanding) the Catholic developed doctrine of indulgences,
which is, simply, the remission of the temporal punishment for sin
(i.e., penance), by the Church (on the grounds of Mt 16:19; 18:18,
and Jn 20:23). This is no different than what St. Paul did,
concerning an errant brother at the Church of Corinth. He first
imposed a penance on him (1 Cor 5:3-5), then remitted part of it (an
indulgence: 2 Cor 2:6-11). Just because abuses occurred prior to the
Protestant Revolt (admitted and rectified by the Catholic Church),
is no reason to toss out yet another biblical doctrine. It is
typical of Protestantism to burn down a house rather than to cleanse
it, to "throw the baby out with the bath water."
Protestantism has thrown out prayers for the dead, in
opposition to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Tobit 12:12; 2
Maccabees 12:39-45; 1 Cor 15:29; 2 Tim 1:16-18; also verses having
to do with purgatory, since these prayers are for the saints there).
Protestantism rejects, on inadequate grounds, the intercession of
the saints for us after death, and the correspondent invocation
of the saints for their effectual prayers (Jas 5:16). Christian
Tradition and the Bible, on the other hand, have upheld this
practice: Dead saints are aware of earthly affairs (Mt 22:30 w/ Lk
15:10 and 1 Cor 15:29; Heb 12:1), appear on earth to interact with
men (1 Sam 28:12-15; Mt 17:1-3, 27:50-53; Rev 11:3), and therefore
can intercede for us, and likewise be petitioned for their prayers,
just as are Christians on earth (2 Maccabees 15:14; Rev 5:8;
Protestants disbelieve in Guardian Angels, despite Christian
Tradition and the Bible (Ps 34:7; 91:11; Mt 18:10; Acts 12:15; Heb
Protestants deny that angels can intercede for us, contrary
to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Rev 1:4; 5:8; 8:3-4).
Protestantism rejects Mary's Immaculate Conception, despite
developed Christian Tradition and indications in the Bible: Gen
3:15; Lk 1:28 ("full of grace" Catholics interpret, on linguistic
grounds, to mean "without sin"); Mary as a type of the Ark of the
Covenant (Lk 1:35 w/ Ex 40:34-8; Lk 1:44 w/ 2 Sam 6:14-16; Lk 1:43
w/ 2 Sam 6:9: God's Presence requires extraordinary holiness).
Protestantism rejects Mary's Assumption, despite developed
Christian Tradition and biblical indications: If Mary was indeed
sinless, she would not have to undergo bodily decay at death (Ps
16:10; Gen 3:19). Similar occurrences in the Bible make the
Assumption not implausible or "unbiblical" per se (Enoch: Gen 5:24
w/ Heb 11:5; Elijah: 2 Ki 2:11; Paul: 2 Cor 12:2-4; the Protestant
doctrine of the "Rapture": 1 Thess 4:15-17; risen saints: Mt
(most?) Protestants deny Mary's perpetual virginity, despite
Christian Tradition (inc. the unanimous agreement of the Protestant
founders (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc.), some Protestant support,
and several biblical evidences, too involved to briefly summarize.
Protestantism denies Mary's Spiritual Motherhood of Christians,
contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Jn 19:26-7: "Behold
thy mother"; Rev 12:1,5,17: Christians described as "her seed.")
Catholics believe that Mary is incomparably more alive and holy than
we are, hence, her prayers for us are of great effect (Jas 5:16; Rev
5:8; 6:9-10). But she is our sister with regard to our position of
creatures vis-à-vis the Creator, God. Mary never operates apart from
the necessary graces from her Son, and always glorifies Him, not
herself, as Catholic theology stresses.
Protestantism rejects the papacy, despite profound Christian
Tradition, and the strong evidence in the Bible of Peter's
preeminence and commission by Jesus as the Rock of His
Church. No one denies he was some type of leader among the apostles.
The papacy as we now know it is derived from this primacy: Mt
16:18-19; Lk 22:31-2; Jn 21:15-17 are the most direct "papal"
passages. Peter's name appears first in all lists of apostles; even
an angel implies he is their leader (Mk 16:7), and he is accepted by
the world as such (Acts 2:37-8,41). He works the first miracle of
the Church age (Acts 3:6-8), utters the first anathema (Acts
5:2-11), raises the dead (Acts 9:40), first receives the Gentiles
(Acts 10:9-48), and his name is mentioned more often than all the
other disciples put together (191 times). Much more similar evidence
can be found.
Church of Rome and the popes were central to the governance and
theological direction and orthodoxy of the Christian Church
from the beginning. This is undeniable. All of the historical groups
now regarded as heretical by Protestants and Catholics alike were
originally judged as such by popes and/or Ecumenical Councils
presided over and ratified by popes.
Protestantism, in its desperation to eke out some type of historical
continuity apart from the Catholic Church, sometimes attempts to
claim a lineage from medieval sects such as the Waldenses,
Cathari, and Albigensians (and sometimes earlier groups such as the
Montanists or Donatists). However, this endeavor is doomed to
failure when one studies closely what these sects believed. They
either retain much Catholic teaching anathema to Protestants or hold
heretical notions antithetical to Christianity altogether (Catholic,
Protestant, and Orthodox), or both, making this Protestant theory
quite dubious at best.
has the most sophisticated and thoughtful Christian
socio-economic and political philosophy, a mixture of
"progressive" and "conservative" elements distinct from the
common-place political rhetoric and Machiavellianism which typically
dominate the political arena. Catholicism has the best view of
church in relation to the state and culture as well.
Catholicism has the best Christian philosophy and worldview,
worked out through centuries of reflection and experience. As in its
theological reflection and development, the Catholic Church is
ineffably wise and profound, to an extent truly amazing, and
indicative of a sure divine stamp. I used to marvel, just before I
converted, at how the Catholic Church could be so right about so
many things. I was accustomed to thinking, as a good evangelical,
that the truth was always a potpourri of ideas from many Protestant
denominations and Catholicism and Orthodoxy (selected by me), and
that none "had it all together." But, alas, the Catholic Church
does, after all!
150. Last but
by no means least, Catholicism has the most sublime spirituality
and devotional spirit, manifested in a thousand different ways,
from the monastic ideal, to the heroic celibacy of the clergy and
religious, the Catholic hospitals, the sheer holiness of a Thomas a
Kempis or a St. Ignatius and their great devotional books, countless
saints - both canonized and as yet unknown and unsung, Mother
Teresa, Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII, the early martyrs, St.
Francis of Assisi, the events at Lourdes and Fatima, the dazzling
intellect of John Henry Cardinal Newman, the wisdom and insight of
Archbishop Fulton Sheen, St. John of the Cross, the sanctified wit
of a Chesterton or a Muggeridge, elderly women doing the Stations of
the Cross or the Rosary, Holy Hour, Benediction, kneeling - the list
goes on and on. This devotional spirit is unmatched in its scope and
deepness, despite many fine counterparts in Protestant and Orthodox