Saturday, January 09, 2010

Truth & popularity

One objection to sola Scriptura which we sometimes run across takes the form of a question: if sola Scriptura is true, then why aren’t more Christians Protestant? I suppose we could generalize the question by asking, If Protestantism is true, then why aren’t more Christians Protestant?

The underlying assumption is a direct correction between truth and popularity.

But in a fallen world, why would we expect truth to be popular? Indeed, in a fallen world, shouldn’t we expect falsehood to be popular?

For example, Biblical prophets are notoriously unpopular. Would it be reasonable to ask, If what Isaiah and Jeremiah said is true, then why didn’t more Israelites believe them?

Likewise, if what Jesus said is true, then why didn’t more Jews believe him?

For that matter, the Catholic objection can be easily turned right back on itself. If Humanae Vitae is true, then why do so many Catholics practice artificial birth control? Why do so many Catholics flout their church’s teaching on abortion?

For that matter, if Catholicism is true, why have traditionally Catholic countries in Europe become so secularized?

Also, at the risk of stating the obvious, truth may have little to do with what people believe. For one thing, people are born into communities. Over a lifetime, they frequently relocate from one community to another, viz. from the nuclear family to high school to college, &c.

Because human existence is a communal existence, we have a natural tendency to assimilate to community standards, be it the family in which we were raised, the schools we attended, the business we work at, the town we live in, &c.


  1. There is also a secularizing trend in Latin America. Mexico City recently legalized abortion and (I believe) same-sex marriage.

    -Steve Jackson

  2. Good to hear from you after such a long absence!

  3. Maybe the Pedantic Protestant will show up.

    -Steve Jackson

  4. You're right that we all are influenced by our cultures, and we try to fit in with those we are raised around, our peers. Not enough Protestants acknowledge that traditions played a huge role in developing them as believers also. I'm not Catholic, but sometimes I think, "At least the Catholics are honest about following traditions!"

    Anyway, along these same lines you and I discussed justification at

    I've responded again, but it had been days since I saw your last response... so the post went below the main page. Feel free to read my response. If you're still interested in discussing more, perhaps you can e-mail me directly. My e-mail address can be found at the bottom of my website (acts420 dot com)
    jason davis

  5. "At least the Catholics are honest about following traditions!"

    It's not honest when you claim those traditions are from God and they're not.

  6. "At least the Catholics are honest about following traditions!"

    But are they? I assume Dr. Beckwith follows Vatican II's teaching on religious liberty, but it is almost impossible to reconcile that with previous church teaching.

    So is the tradition he is following the historic teaching of the church, or following whatever the church says now?

    Likewise, is the current church teaching on the Bible consistent with what was taught prior to, say, 1900?

    -Steve Jackson

  7. Steve, question as the ones you raise are exactly what I thought of when I read the "If sola scriptura is true" question.

    There are many routes of "if true" questions to pose for RC's if one wants to play that game. You've hit on a few.

  8. Jason Davis,

    You’ve been having a discussion with me, not Steve Hays, at that other web site. And I’ve responded to you there.

  9. "..if what Jesus said is true, then why didn’t more Jews believe him?"

    Even when they saw the kindness and love of the Savior, The Truth Himself, and saw Him raise Lazarus from the dead. You would think that would cause the nation looking for the Messiah, to recognize the Messiah.

    Yet, they hated Him even more; so much so, that they wanted to kill Lazarus.

    Saving faith is a gift from a merciful God. If you believe in, and love, Christ, then this same heart will be a thankful heart, and a heart which longs to live godly for Jesus.

    Have a peaceful Lord's Day.

  10. Mr. Hays,

    Thank you for this post. Not only has the Roman Catholic Sean (known as SP, Sean and Stephanie, et al.) been repeatedly employing such a fallacious argument in the combox here, but it is becoming ever more popular amongst "Classical" Arminians. The old "there are way more of us than there are of you, so we must be right" argument.

  11. "..if what Jesus..."

    Alright, alright, I will be pedantic then!

    Jesus is True.


    Why I look at it this way. If there was one more perfect, innocent, truthful man, we might have a multiple problem.

    Seeing there is only one, Jesus Christ, "who cannot lie", it is easier to claim one for adoption by predestination by the foreknowledge of His death, burial and resurrection:::>

    Act 4:33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.


    1Pe 1:20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you
    1Pe 1:21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

  12. Anyone here ever attend a Roman Catholic high school? Most Roman Catholics are nominal Roman Catholics. They got baptized as babies and may or may not go through Confirmation. They'll attend Mass on particular 'holy days', and may self-identify as Roman Catholics on a survey, but that's about it. They otherwise live as generic secularists.

    That's because the Roman Catholic church doesn't practice church discipline.

  13. Here in Portugal, one of the most Catholic Catholic countries left in the world, on a daily basis, priests and bishops openly deny such dogmas as the infallibility of the Scriptures and outright disrespect the authority of Pope. Some go on TV and defend the use of condoms and others go on to speak in far-left wing party conventions - just to name a few 'misdemeanors'.

    They're never disciplined; nor are they ever rebuked by anyone in the higher hierarchy. Among the laity, no-one is ever excommunicated. Ever. As far as Portugal, the homeland of Our Lady of Fatima, 'Peter' has lost his keys. Worse: he's become a liberal theologian who no longer sits in his Cathedra and is nowadays busy licking the boots of Conservative politicians.

    What a joke.
    And by the way, please tell all those American ex-Evangelical Catholic traditionalist-converts that, in case they haven't noticed, Vatican II has actually taken place. I'm just saying.

  14. Speaking of Portugal, the legislature just passed a law mandating same-sex "marriage" and the president has said he will sign it.

    -Steve Jackson

  15. Speaking of Portugal, statistics show that up to 80% of the population is self-proclaimed Roman Catholic. But not more than 20% of these are practising Catholics.

    If I'm not mistaken, and as far as the Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Sallus 2.0 dictates, most of my country is surely going to Hell (since most of the people knowingly and willingly refuse to unite with the Roman Catholic Church, which they claim to be the true church). As a matter of fact, if Catholicism were true, I've bigger chances of going to Catholic heaven myself, being *invencibly ignorant* and believing my *particular sect* to be in unity with Christ.

    I could go on and on.

    Have I mentioned Padre Carreira das Neves yet? Ah, the man who publicly stated that the Bible is mostly mythology and that not even the Gospels qualify as historical documents! A priest who defends that HIV-positive individuals must use contraception! A fine Franciscan who recently stated that Jesus obvioulsy advocated left-wing politics!

    And guess what: he's still in office. Both as a priest and as a teacher of Biblical Studies in Universidade Católica.

  16. This is exactly why I think Sam Harris' talking point about moderates ideologically sheltering extremists fails. Religious people with more extreme views have every reason to disregard whatever the "chaff" of the Christian population thinks from their perspective.