Sunday, February 04, 2018

Suppose all Protestants thought alike?

In my experience, the most common Catholic objection to the Protestant faith is Protestant pluralism. That may also be the most common reason given by evangelical converts to Rome.

Try a thought-experiment: suppose all Protestants believed the same thing. Let's say all Protestants were Reformed Baptists. I'll pick that tradition out of the hat because it presents a dramatic contrast to Roman Catholicism. 

If (ex hypothesi) all Protestants were Reformed Baptists, then the Catholic objection based on Protestant pluralism would vanish. But would that really make a dent in Catholic objections to the Protestant faith? If their leading objection was taken off the table, would that significantly diminish Catholic opposition to the Protestant faith? Or would they simply retrench and say that even though all Protestants believe the same thing, they believe the wrong thing? But in that event, how sincere, how important, is that objection to Protestant pluralism?  

To take a comparison, consider a typical debate with a village atheist. They lead with a particular reason for rejecting Christianity. If you shoot down their stated reason, it doesn't faze them at all. They just reach into the bag for another reason. You can go down the list, and it makes no difference. 

When Catholics object to the Protestant faith on the grounds of many competing denominations, is that their real reason, or is that a Catholic trope which they unthinkingly repeat, because it's a stereotypical objection to the Protestant faith? 


  1. Well, I think it pure intellectual dishonesty how Catholics take painstaking efforts to portray the umbrella of the Roman Catholic hierarchy as functioning in peace and perfect harmony. Having a so-called "referee" (which is in this case the pope) does not automatically translate into evidence of having no disputes. But the fact of the matter is that Romanists do indeed suffer from doctrinal divisions. They have disagreements, just like we do.

    So, if Sola Scriptura is disqualified because of divisions, then "apostolic oral tradition" and the "infallible teaching authority" are also disqualified because Roman Catholics/Eastern Orthodox believers have disputes. In fact, the pope has barely ever made any ex-cathedra statements. Consequently, Papists are free to interpret a lot of stuff on their own (“Divino Afflante Spiritus”, papal encyclical by Pope Pius XII). What we should be striving for is unity ACCORDING TO THE GOD'S WORD.

  2. Rome likes to compare herself with the whole of Protestantism rather than with a single Confession that is more internally consistent with itself, like the Westminster standards. It makes for easier prey. But coming at this from non-Trinitarian skepticism, we can just as easily lump Roman Catholicism in with all other Trinitarian denominations making the set even more inclusive. Given such a cataloging of Trinitarian denominations and by employing the Roman Catholic's way of reasoning, one may just as easily ask in the spirit of Roman Catholic skepticism how Christian truth can be known given all the opposing doctrines within Trinitarian theology (Roman Catholicism included). In other words, Roman Catholic apologists often point to conflicting doctrines within the whole of Protestantism to create need for Romanism, the supposed arbiter of truth. Yet if we lump Rome in with all the rest of Christianity (and apply her reasoning) then her disagreements with the Westminster standards, for instance, makes her doctrine as questionable as all the Protestant denominations she would cast doubt upon. In response to this Roman Catholics might say that Rome claims infallibility whereas Protestant denominations don't. But how does the claim of infallibility establish actual infallibility any more than it points to absolute delusion?!

  3. RA--

    I tend to take a similar tack with Catholics, pointing out that all the splintering took place in WESTERN Christendom (rather than in the East), suggesting that the precipitating cause may be some inherent flaw in the flagship of the West: ROME.