Does it matter what denomination you are a part of?


Denomination doesn’t matter, if you’re working from Protestant presuppositions, because the nature of the church, in their view, is such that it is not present in a “fullness” in a visible entity.

Protestantism is complicated and diverse, and so this is just a general sketch. After all, even some of the original Reformers would damn you if you were not part of their particular group or teaching. Look up Calvin’s own tolerance, for starters.

But the Catholic does not work with these assumptions. The Catholic view is prior and equivalent to early Christianity, which is maintained by the various Eastern traditions as well: That the church subsists in a visible entity that is held together by concrete, sacramental realities, like Apostolic Succession, a continuous liturgy, the maintenance of Christian teaching.

The reason a Catholic would say “denomination” matters is because (1) Truth matters. If a Christian group says baptism is NOT regenerative, well that’s error, and a serious one. Is the Eucharist only symbolic? That’s a serious question. Etc. (2) the Church IS identifiable with a visible entity — and not a mere invisible collection of regenerated souls, wherever they may be (Baptist over here, Catholic here, Evangelical here, etc.)

But I think people often miss the reality that Catholic teaching implies that Protestants PARTICIPATE in the one Catholic Church. They do not do this by their denomination in itself, but with those elements they have maintained from Catholicism. Baptism, so long as it is valid, REALLY DOES make the Protestant Christian part of the Body of Christ. The Protestant Bible, though incomplete, REALLY DOES contain the Word of God. Wherever two or three are gathered in Christ’s name, CHRIST IS REALLY there.

But the Catholic (or any other ancient Christian) is not content with this. There is no such thing as “mere Christianity.” There is a Church founded by Christ on the rock of Peter, which has been led through apostolic succession since day one.

And it is important that ALL Christians get closer and closer to this one source of Catholic communion, because then they will get closer and closer to and more and more of the fullness of Christian teaching and means of sanctification.


Right. The Church is Incarnate with Christ. It’s not a mere idea any more than Christ is an idea.
I have read reams of these discussions over the years, and this is where the reformed point of view fails.


if Jesus doesn’t care then why did he pray that we would all be one?


“Because that is talking about being one under the belief in Jesus and salvation. Not one under the same opinions and denominations”

  • protestants


All Christians pray to Jesus and Jesus is very happy and loves all Christians of all denominations. But if we want to be as close to Jesus as possible while on Earth, we can do so through receiving His Body and His Blood which isn’t found in Protestant denominations.

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”” - Matthew 26:26

This is a literal translation in the original text, I believe it was Greek but I am no expert on that haha.

So while all Christian denominations have some truth to them and all attempt to follow Jesus, Protestant denominations do not have the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Come Holy Spirit, kindle the hearts of your faithful and you will renew the face of the Earth,

  • Matt


that is false because that is not being one. To not be under the same understanding of Jesus and salvation is the definition of not being ‘one’. If you hold to a different understanding of what constitutes salvation then you are not of one mind, one body.

Jesus didn’t send his apostles out to teach opinions and denominations.


Exactly, why would God reveal something if it didn’t matter?

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, unless they have different opinions about stuff you decide doesn’t really matter, then it’s cool if they do or believe something different.”



Oh they believe His words! They have just been taught that He is the Word, and that “eating” Him means feasting on the contents of their Bible.

They used the papyrus writings that would one day become the New Testament. They had the “memoirs of the Apostles” and copies of the writings. In the beginning, they also had those who knew the Lord, or the Apostles and spread the gospel by word of mouth.

A better question might be, why does the Scripture and the early Church writings reveal that the Church founded by Christ is organized around Bishops appointed by Apostles? What changed?

It is a valid argument which many Protestants dodge by just acknowledging that the Church developed the Canon, by the Holy Spirit. Some will say that the Church did allow themselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit, but once we had the New Testament, a more “perfect” form has come. The Holy Spirit moved to guide those who espouse Sola Scriptura and those who stuck with the Catholic model got left.


These “non-demonimations” really are denominational, they just don’t realize it. They espouse Reformation doctrines that were created, in part, to facilitate rejection of the authority of the Catholic Church. Since they don’t know the history, they don’t realize the source.

I think this is a great example of a false dichotomy. For Catholics, there is no separation between the grace by which we are saved through faith, and the actions produced by that saving grace. Actions are salvific because they keep one walking by the Spirit, not the flesh.

It is definitely a valid point, dodged quickly by the phrase “we assume a canon”.

I think this is one of the best arguments in this situation. @steve-b also has a number of good arguments on this topic, and perhaps will post some of them here?


Re: the title of the thread, and your opening thoughts

It’s not clear. Are these thoughts you’re trying to answer with a Protestant ? Or do you also hold these thoughts as well?

Pius IX had the following to say Re: Errors in thinking

From Pius IX encyclical

The errors, are put in 9 groups, as follows.
. Pantheism, Naturalism, Absolute Rationalism (I-7);
. Moderate Rationalism (8-14);
. Indifferentism and false Tolerance in Religious matters (15-18);
. Errors regarding the Church and its rights (19-38);
. Errors on the State and its Relation to the Church (39-55);
. Errors on Natural and Christian Ethics (56-64);
. Errors on Christian Marriage (65-74);
. Errors on the Temporal Power of the Pope (75-76);
. Errors in Connection with Modern Liberalism (77-80).

What you describe, falls under grouping #3

The errors of


_ _"Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true.—Allocution “Maxima quidem,” June 9, 1862; Damnatio “Multiplices inter,” June 10, 1851. _

_ _Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.—Encyclical “Qui pluribus,” Nov. 9, 1846. _

_ _Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ.—Encyclical “Quanto conficiamur,” Aug. 10, 1863, etc. _

_ Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church.—Encyclical “Noscitis,” Dec. 8, 1849. "

(my comment) the same erroneous thinking that was in vogue in 1864 when Pius IX wrote his syllabus condemning those errors, is every bit in vogue TODAY in 2018)

For further reading New Advent Indifferentism, Latitudinarianism


I am speaking for protestants I have come across in the past.


The church is subject to the Gospel (the Teachings of Christ and the apostles) and is not free to add to it or change it. Anything that was not taught by Christ and the apostles is a “another gospel”. When Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to “Hold fast to the traditions…” Paul qualifies "…that were taught to them either preaching (face to face) or in letter (what became the Scriptures). Unless you have a recording of Paul’s oral sermons then we are left with the letter.

Now, someone can claim Paul (or any of the apostles) taught something orally that was never written , but for all we know it was something somebody made up trying to explain a mystery of God . Or something that was adopted for cultural reasons or political reasons or even by non-Christians seeking a way to exploit the organization and reach of the church to gain wealth and power.


:sunglasses: I was hoping that was the case. It just wasn’t clear.


The Church and the Gospel are one thing, one living thing knit together in the body of Christ. The Tradition of the Church, along with it’s living Magisterium, along with the scriptures are one thing.
Of course the Church is not free to add to the scriptures. Who said it could?
In fact you have the scriptures as they are, authoritatively canonized precisely from the Church. So that is all straw man.


The problem with this line of thinking is which came first the Church or what was written? How can the Church be subject to something that wasn’t written yet.

Yes I see you said the Teachings not the Writings but that still doesn’t add up because then we would have to claim that everything taught in the early Church must have been written down. If the Apostles planned on writing down everything then it would make no sense for St. Paul to say “word of mouth”.

Add to that the fact that when St. Paul wrote that before 75% of the New Testament wasn’t written yet.

This is a claim that you are making. The one that makes the claim is the one that has to provide the proof. As mentioned above where do you get the idea that the Apostles intended to write everything down. To me that would seem like a very inefficient way of teaching. Also, where does what was written state that anything not written down is “another gospel”? or what was to be written?

No book of the Bible lists all of the other books of the Bible. How can the Church be subject to what was written if we have no way of knowing what was written without an Authoritative Church?

Why would you require a recording when recordings didn’t even exist at the time? Wait a minute I am wrong here that did exist at the time it was called ORAL TRADITION. Seems to me someone told us to Hold fast to these early “recordings”.

Sure can that’s why it is vital to have a teaching authority to not only teach what wasn’t written but EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY to teach what St. Paul meant in his writings. Because if we don’t have that for all we know the interpretation of St. Paul’s writings might be something somebody made up trying to explain a mystery of God or by someone who doesn’t want to agree with the early Church and just want to gain power and wealth for themselves and have their own followers.

That seems like it could happen doesn’t it? (Prosperity Gospel anyone?)

St. Peter thought so anyway…

2 Peter 3:15 Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

If the Church is subject to someone’s personal interpretation of the scriptures then there is no way to have the scriptures to begin with.

God Bless


Correct. You run into an immediate problem.
If this were true, then when Christ preaches the beatitudes from the mount, you must say that he is adding things that are not in the scriptures. Because the Church is subject to the scriptures. And the beatitudes are not in the scriptures at that time.
It’s circular.

And it’s an idolatrous view of scripture. Maybe not intentionally so, but functionally yes.


The were subject to the apostles teachings which, at the time were oral and written. This does not mean the oral teaching were passed on perfectly. As a matter of fact, the gnostics claimed that they had received oral teaching directly from the apostles. Which is one of the reasons the early church started relying on the writings to defend the faith. If it hadn’t been for the writings then it would have been “you say the apostles taught X and I say they taught Y”. With the scriptures the early church was able to say “The apostles taught Y and here is where it was taught in their writings”.

I didn’t say they intended to write everything down. What I’m saying that we know what they recorded. We do not know what they said orally. We do know that they said to hold to their teachings and not be swayed away.

Yes, but oral tradition is subject to the speculations, whims and filters (experience, culture, prejudices, philosophy and even sins) of the men repeating it. It doesn’t take long for it to become something different than what was originally taught. That is why the scriptures must be the final authority. They are set in stone. Now, we as humans, filter the scriptures through speculations, whims and filters. But at least we have something tangible to filter as opposed a vague “oral tradition” which seems to change over time. And it is better to have something singular to filter instead of filtering both scripture and “oral tradition” which only compounds the problem of “Filtering”. Having both just gives folks two things to disagree about instead of one.

The problem is that teaching authority is subject to the same speculation, whims and prejudices as everyone else. Even the greatest theologians in history were human. Just because they convinced people they were right about something they come up with doesn’t mean they were actually right. The Catholic church is full of things there were personal interpretations of Augustine, Aquinas, John Chrysostom, and many others.


How do you know they were subject to the teaching? If there was no original authoritative Church before the scriptures then maybe what was written down many years later wasn’t passed on perfectly or copied corrrectly.

No they didn’t. Where’s you proof of this? They didn’t even have a completed agreed upon Bible for 100’s of years. How could they have defended the faith from the writings when the writings themselves where being disputed by the early Church. It would be exactly what you said except "you say the Gospel X teaches this and I say Gospel Y teaches this”. Even the Bible tells us they didn’t consult the Bible they consulted a Church council who had authority to decide what was truth.

If it was so easy back then for someone to point to the scriptures and say here is where it is taught how come 2000 years later it isn’t so easy anymore?

Basically, if at this very time and day, as we discuss this, we have clear concrete proven evidence that pointing to scripture doesn’t prove what the Apostles taught, why would you think it worked back then?

Yes and they even recorded that they didn’t record everything.



Well if we don’t know what they said orally then how can we know what they said in writing?

Try this.

“i never said you stole money”

If you don’t know what I say orally when I say those words then you have no way of interpreting what I said.

These 6 little words can have 6 different interpretations.

If we stress the word I it could mean I didn’t say it Bob said it.
Stressing the word never could be a blanket statement that I never said it.
Stressing said could mean I wrote it in letter and sent it to the police.
Stressing you could mean I didn’t say you stole it I said Bob stole it.
Stressing stole could mean I didn’t say you stole it, I said you spent it or lost it or burned it.
Stressing money could mean it wasn’t money, I said you stole a car.

Without the Church there is no way of interpreting the Apostles intentions in scripture. That is why it is so easy for someone to say no you don’t need to be Baptized or nope it’s one and done - Once saved always saved.

This makes absolutely no sense. Set in stone means something fixed and unchangeable. How can it be set in stone yet be able to be changed by human speculation?

Sorry but everything you write here sure comes across to me as getting to the truth isn’t really that important as long as we have something in front of us.

Unless it was a teaching authority commission by Christ with the promise that He would be with them to the end of the age. To me Jesus leaving us an authority, guided by the Holy Spirit, makes far more sense than leaving us a book which we both agree can be interpreted however we darn well please.

Personally, I would be more willing to be convinced by theologians who new the Apostles or their successors than men like Luther, Calvin, etc who came along 1500 years later.

God Bless


Because there are many Bible versus where they tell us to not teach another gospel, to hold fast to what they were taught and so forth.

If you read the ante-nicene writings you will find quote after quote from both the Old and New Testament in defense of the faith. They used scripture to prove authentic Christianity and the teachings of the apostles. They also refuted attempts at those distorting the scriptures for their own end.

Take this example of Hippolytus in Against Noetus

  1. There is, brethren, one God, the knowledge of whom we gain from the Holy Scriptures, and from no other source. For just as a man, if he wishes to be skilled in the wisdom of this world, will find himself unable to get at it in any other way than by mastering the dogmas of philosophers, so all of us who wish to practise piety will be unable to learn its practice from any other quarter than the oracles of God. Whatever things, then, the Holy Scriptures declare, at these let us took; and whatsoever things they teach, these let us learn; and as the Father wills our belief to be, let us believe; and as He wills the Son to be glorified, let us glorify Him; and as He wills the Holy Spirit to be bestowed, let us receive Him. Not according to our own will, nor according to our own mind, nor yet as using violently those things which are given by God, but even as He has chosen to teach them by the Holy Scriptures, so let us discern them.

and later he says

These testimonies are sufficient for the believing who study truth, and the unbelieving credit no testimony. For the Holy Spirit, indeed, in the person of the apostles, has testified to this, saying, "And who has believed our report? " Therefore let us not prove ourselves unbelieving, lest the word spoken be fulfilled in us. Let us believe then, dear brethren, according to the tradition of the apostles, that God the Word came down from heaven,

You see, he used scripture to verify authentic teachings of the apostles.

He quotes scripture over and over again to “believe, dear brethren, according to the tradition of the apostles”.

As you know, Hippolytus was a early third century Bishop in Rome. He used scripture as the sole place to gain knowledge of God and defended the faith from scripture. He did all of this before a canon of scripture was set by the church.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit