Authority in Catholicism and Protestantism..

Hi all,

In this here thread: (well in the last few pages) some of us got a tad off topic and started discussing authority, or at least I think we’re discussing authority, it’s what it’s all come down to so far.

So I will post my response to some of the questions and points in that thread here as its not on topic on that thread anymore.

Develop to much? Did the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation develop over the centuries to much that it did not resemble what the early church taught? Yes you posted enough to make your point,but not to debunk 2,000 years of history. Schaff is incredibly well read,but sure is lacking in the comprehension department.

When it comes to the Trinity, however, we find clear and vast evidence in sacred scripture however, with the papacy, to my eye we do not… With regard to Schaff, I think he is a very capable man.

Different interpretations? Seriously? We have scores of church fathers words about the primacy of Rome where it is evident what they said and believed. It is called revisionism by many today because it conflicts with their novel beliefs,plain and simple.

We have scores of fathers who say a lot about Peter in many places yes… In no way do they all therefore suddenly think the Bishop of Rome is supreme over them… Accusing us of revisionism is rather bold… It’s more realism… We’re simply holding Trent accountable for its comments on their claims There’s no revisionism in it, it’s just what’s there in history.

All authors have opinions,but to bad opinions are merely that…opinions. An opinion with no sound evidence is nothing.

With respect, i think Schaff has rather large amounts of evidence for his claims.

Again…present to me one ECF clearly teaching the primacy of Rome is: heretical,false, to be rejected,schismatic or a usurpation of Christ in the first 500 years?

I did… As soon as we see Bishop victor in Rome attempting to use authority outside of his jurisdiction, Irenaus rebukes him for it… He has no knowledge of a universal papacy, he sees Victor attempting to interfere in something he has no right to and rebukes him…(1).



(1) - History of the Christian Church, Volume 2, Ante Nicence Christianity AD 100-325, Phillip Schaff, Oak harbor, WA, Logos Research systems inc, 1997 -…

PRmerger -
Originally Posted by Lincoln7
I’ve been asked for a source the ‘thousands of denominations’ number. Can you provide your source for this?…ns#cite_note-1

Now, you believe this is incorrect.

What is your number, and please cite your source.

(Incidentally, while it is an interesting question, in an academic way–and 38,000 is an obscenity, really and truly. It speaks to the chaos and confusion that has been wrought by those who feel at liberty to splinter from the faith which gave them the kergyma --really, isn’t more than 1 just wrong, when we listen to what Christ had envisioned for His Church?


Does something not seem quite right to you though, it lists as separate denominations for example, 2 Lutheran churches simply because they are in different countries. They believe identical things… Maybe what these sources class as a ‘denomination’ is very different to what you have in mind. The wiki link also lists each eastern catholic church as a denomination…

The world Christian fact books 38,000 also lists over 200 Catholic ‘denominations’… I’m sure you will object to this. Again, what it means by denomination is obviously rather different from the way it’s used here.

Kind regards

Lincs :slight_smile:

The JWs love to pointedly ask, “If a bible were dropped into the middle of a desert and someone picked it up and read it, would they conclude that God was a Trinity?”

I think they’re correct–nope, you can’t glean the dogma of the Trinity from the passages of the Bible.

I see it there supported by vast passages of scripture… How do you argue with a JW then? Seems if scripture isn’t clear enough to solve your differences, I’m guessing history won’t be either and you are both going to be just pointing to your ultimate interpreters for proof… I can’t see that working, with respect, just my oberservation :slight_smile:

Now, to a Catholic this question about dropping the Bible into a desert and having someone glean a doctrine from it is quite absurd. Why would someone be expected to use only the Bible to come up with some really difficult concepts such as the Trinity, the hypostatic union, the 2 natures of Christ, etc etc etc. We don’t claim that this is the way Scripture should be read. Or doctrine extracted. We have the kerygma, and from it the Scriptures developed.

I don’t view it as dropping from the sky, I can’t recommend that book I posted earlier enough on this… The question infeel i should ask here then is why the Apostles wrote it in the first place then and sent it to fallible independent congregations? If they can’t understand these writings why did they even send them? This appeal to the kergyma, with respect, seems another way of saying “were infallible” which as we’ve already seen, can’t be discussed… The thing with an ultimate authority as it can’t be tested.

But to a Bible-only Christian, the JW’s question is a pointed one, and one that cannot be refuted. They are right: if a bible were dropped into the middle of a desert and someone picked it up and read it, there’s NO WAY he would conclude that God was a Trinity.

With respect, that’s a bold claim and is utterly untrue. It’s abundantly clear… It seems almost an insult to the writers of scripture to tell them they can’t write anything people will get… I guess the tract on this very site on answering JW’s from scripture is pretty null and void then? With respect, it’s not. The scripture is clear on this. Hope this doesn’t sound aggressive Prmerger :slight_smile:



Pablope, hope you’re well.

I think to save utterly overloading this thread, as ive already posted loads in one big go, i justbwant to focus on this bit of your comments in the last thread:

It is …tradition does not authoritatively guide his Lincoln7’s interpretation. His interpretation picks out what counts as tradition, and then this tradition informs his interpretation

As I’ve said before, on this question of authority and me using my own interpretation of things, this argument works just as well against your own position; for tradition does not authoritatively guide your position, your interpretation picks out what counts as tradition and picks out verses in scripture that support your interpretation that Rome is the ultimate authority on matters of faith over other bodies who claim something similar…

Kind regards

Lincs :slight_smile:

I did not take part in the thread from which you extracted the posts to which you are responding and don’t have the time at present to address all that you have written on this current thread, however I feel you should be made aware that your perspective has not taken into account some important information.

As you know, there was no canon of Scripture approved by the Church for the first 400 years of its existence. The New Testament writings that we find in our Bible today were completed between approximately 60 -100 A.D., the last being nearly 70 years after the death of Christ.

These writings were not sent to “to fallible independent congregations”. They were used during the liturgies, just as they are in the Catholic Church today, and were presided over by ordained priests who were in submission to ordained bishops in each of these ecclesial communitites (read the account of Justin Martyr explaining the Mass in 150 A.D.)

Due to logistics and the lack of any sort of printing press, these writings were not wide spread and all of them certainly did not exist in every community at one time. They relied on Sacred Tradition, for the most part, in order to receive the word of God. Sacred Tradition possessed the fulness of truth that they had received from the Apostles, regardless of whether or not they had a copy of any of the sacred writings. Any writing was held up to scrutiny based upon the Sacred Tradition, and if it passed the test, it could be used. Read throguh the Didache. It contains wonderful writings that were not determied by the Church to be necessarily inspired, but still contained sound teaching.

So what you fefer to as “fallible independent congregations” were not dependent upon their own interpretation of a “bible”. They were taught under the guidance of the bishops and the priests according to Sacred Tradition, regardless of the writings in their possession.

Could you please cite your source for the belief that these 2 Lutheran churches in 2 different countries “believe identical things”?

I don’t know the answer to this–my guess is that they do not, because, the great paradigm of personal interpretation seems to belie the ability of 2 churches, with no central authority, professing to believe the same thing.

But if you can proffer what tells you they believe identical doctrines, then I will concede. :slight_smile:

And, do you have a source for what you believe is the correct number of Christian denominations? (Simply saying, “It’s *not *tens of thousands” is fine for you to believe, but it would be beneficial for the sake of the discussion to be able to have a precise number. Or at least a better concept than, “It’s not tens of thousands.”.)

The Book of Concord, the confessions of faith of the Lutheran Church, define what it is to be a Lutheran. If an individual church body or parish denies anything in the Book of Concord, by definition, they are not Lutheran. Therefore, if two different Lutheran church bodies, say, for example, the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, and the Lutheran Church - Canada, both confess to adhere to everything in the Book of Concord, then they both believe the same thing.

You are correct that I would object to this. The source you’re using is what? Could you please cite the link. Thanks.

Fair enough.

And is there a website that I can see that says that these 2 different Lutheran denominations in 2 different countries adhere to everything in the Book of Concord?

The individual websites for those church bodies would, yes. In term of denomination, while I suppose you could call Lutheranism itself a denomination (we would object to that term, much as would a Roman Catholic), the synods are not individual denominations. Rather, they are geographical entities, very similar, though not exactly, like the various Anglican bodies that form one communion.

“Again…present to me one ECF clearly teaching the primacy of Rome is: heretical,false, to be rejected,schismatic or a usurpation of Christ in the first 500 years?”

That carries an assumption. That is for the Primacy of Rome to be true and what the early church practiced, then it must be clearly taught from that same time period.

However, if we hold that assumption, then for truth to exist to current day, one would have to assume everything must been clearly taught, written, and survived 2000 years.

Given this, many items Protestants & Catholics agree upon but are not clearly taught.

There is enough evidence to suggest it’s how the early church regarded the Bishop of Rome. With a compilation of material, you can make the case for the Primacy of Rome.

Personally; it’s hard for me to imagine Christianity surviving without falling to heresy in the first 400 years without a ‘rock’. Just my thoughts.

Absolutely not, Lincs.

In addition to the folks such as JWs, Unitarians, and some other weird denominations that I’ve only recently heard of in my tenure here on the CAFs (I think there’s a break-off from the JWs called Californians or something like that?), Quakers, Mennonites, Mormons…who read the very same Scriptures that you do and do not come to the conclusion that “it’s abundantly clear”.

There’s also the Muslims. They take great issue with the fact that Jesus is “another God”. They read our Scriptures and conclude that it’s not a Trinity we believe in but polytheism.

So, that puts lots and lots of folks in the camp that says “The Trinity is not abundantly clear in the Bible.”

I’m not arguing, BTW, that numbers indicates truth. But numbers do indicate whether something is “abundantly clear”, right? On that we would be agreed, yes?

I was not involved in the other thread and have only glanced at all that you have posted above…Too hard for me to try to sort it out. Sorry…

But -

Authority IS the central issue in these matters and so, of all the things to discuss, it is core.

I am no scholar of any sort and yet in my journey I have found that, the more I look into the matter the more I see Scripture pointing to an authoritative Church. So even if one is looking at Scripture as their prime source for teaching, Scripture itself will lead one to “Church” as authority.
Let me note here just quickly that in all that follows I am not making a case specifically for the “RC” model but rather simply looking as Scripture and what Scripture points to…

First, let’s look at the term “Church”. The Greek “Ekklesia” = a community called out for council etc. This term is used exactly twice in the Gospels. Both times in Matthew, and both times it is connected with the granting of authority to “Bind and Loose”…“whatever”. (Mt 16:17-19 and Mt 18:15-18). Pretty broad authority wouldn’t you agree?
Of these two references, both made by the Lord Himself, I find the one in Mt 18:15-18 to be the most striking for it provides a pretty clear, if brief, set of instructions for dealing with problems within the Ekklesia - the Church.
The great thing about bringing things to “the Church” for consideration is that, assuming that the group is prayerful, sincere and truly seeking God’s truth, error is much less likely. The Holy spirit works among the group through sincere discussion and debate to arrive at the Truth in Love. The individual may well be guided by the Holy Spirit, but without the greater “Church” to check his conclusions against, error is more likely. (I know this from personal experience:blush:)

But what is even more striking is that the Holy Spirit saw to it that Scripture contained an example of these instructions in action…Not verbatim but the principles are clearly visible in Acts 15. First a few in Antioch are involved, then more until it is found that not even St Paul himself can resolve the matter. So - it is taken to Jerusalem and laid before the leadership of the Church, the Apostles and Elders of the Church.
Once they had spoken that ended the matter, not just in Jerusalem, not just in Antioch, but in all the Church in whatever city…

These two passages when combined, fit so well together demonstrating the idea of unity and ekklesial authority that I cannot see how any protestant can miss it. Of course many wish to say that Mt 18 refer to the local community and not to a “universal” hierarchy… yet Scripture does not support this. While the passages above DO point to universal unity and authority, there is no passage that I am aware of that points to local independence.
If that were the case, then why did Antioch simple evolve into a "Gentile Christian Church and a “Hebrew Christian Church” After all, isn’t that what we have today with the many different denominations in each and every city?

The simple logic AND Mt 18 work together to dissolve the “local independent” view.
Consider -
A man begins teaching in his local church something controversial. Mt 18 kicks in and the debate begins. Eventually the matter is brought before the “Church”, or representatives thereof and a decision reached.
Meanwhile down the street, in another local church, this same thing happens on the same subject and that community reaches a different conclusion. Since each community is independent, each can teach - based on (their understanding of) Scripture - opposing conclusions.
Now consider this problem in light of the models of Church governance that have developed in the Christian era. The Protestant model cannot resolve this matter because they reject the idea of a universal church authority. The Catholic and Orthodox - (the much older churches) BOTH use a councilior model that is very much like what we see in Scripture.

In addition to the passages above, there are numerous mentions in Scripture of being one in mind, in spirit, in praise. Jesus asked that we be One as he and the Father are One…Is there any room for serious difference in that???

Scripture is inerrant. Scripture is authoritative, and Scripture points to the Authoritative Church.


Now - After reading through my post above and the Scriptural evidence pointing toward the councilior model - which happens to the one used by the RC and the EO, I would challenge any protestant, SS type to provide equally compelling Scriptural evidence for the “invisible church” / locally independent / Sola Scriptura Model.


I don’t disagree with anything here, James. However, there is no such thing as the “Protestant” model :slight_smile:

Well I did describe in my follow-up post what I meant by “protestant model” and I think it is one that most protestant Churches today would recognize.

My challenge to ALL of my protestant brothers and sisters is to return to the biblical model. Convene councils to hammer out the problems between the various groups.
For the Love of our Lord and King, seek unity one with the other.

It is my firm belief that - far from being a case of “imposing” authority and visible unity, all true Christians should - out of Love for Christ - SEEK such visible unity through humble and prayerful council one with the other for the sake of preserving the Truth of the Gospel.


Maybe in American Protestantism (where the view you’re arguing against is held mainly by non-denominational and Baptist evangelicals). Most certainly not worldwide.

Out of 2,000,000,000 Christians in the world, to about 20,000,000 of them the Trinity is not abundantly clear in Scripture. This does not mean it isn’t.

It means they are not seriously considering the biblical data on the Trinity (and the JW’s don’t even use the same Bible as us), which was exactly the argumentation against the Arians that men like Athanasius employed. Yes, church tradition played an important role as well. However, they were primarily biblical Trinitarians.

There’s also the Muslims. They take great issue with the fact that Jesus is “another God”. They read our Scriptures and conclude that it’s not a Trinity we believe in but polytheism.

And the Muslims are going to accept how the magisterium explains the Trinity? If the very creative, powerful word of God is insufficient to convince Muslims of the Trinity, then the church is going to be pretty insufficient as well.

Of course it does. Abundantly clear means, by definition, that it’s, well, clear. Easily perceptible.

Are you say that 20,000,000 (and I’m just trusting you on this number) people are dim bulbs and can’t get what’s clear? (Did you count the Muslims in this demographic?)

And the Muslims are going to accept how the magisterium explains the Trinity? If the very creative, powerful word of God is insufficient to convince Muslims of the Trinity, then the church is going to be pretty insufficient as well.


But that’s a different argument.

You’re saying that the Trinity is “abundantly clear” in the Scriptures. If this is true, why do Muslims believe, from reading these Scriptures, maintain that Christians believe in more than one God?

No, just referring to quasi-Christian groups (not sure why you listed the Mennonites there, unless I am missing something about their beliefs on the Trinity?). They are not dim bulbs at all. However, what they fail to do is take the entirety of the Scriptural witness about the nature of the Trinity into consideration. This is exactly what the Arians did, and the fathers called them out on it. In the case of the JW’s, they have their own Bibles and consider ours to be false, so of course they’re not going to accept arguments from it.


But that’s a different argument.

You’re saying that the Trinity is “abundantly clear” in the Scriptures. If this is true, why do Muslims believe, from reading these Scriptures, maintain that Christians believe in more than one God?

They make the same mistake as the above cultic groups do. In addition to that, they believe what the Qu’ran says Christians believe, because to them it is the word of God. And the Qu’ran says we worship three gods. So Allah is not going to get Christian doctrine wrong to them. It doesn’t even matter if you tell them you don’t worship three gods, they are not going to believe you.

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