I agree with the notion that Protestantism lacks the fullness of truth.
That said, though, I must disagree with your premise. Protestant churches of all stripes seem to believe that the fullness of truth is possessed by anyone who believes in Jesus as their savior; they are not generally fighting amongst themselves about which denomination is the true one.
There are exceptions to this, of course, but I think one of the “unifying” (ironic, yes) elements of Protestantism is the idea that all believers are saved, regardless of denomination (as long as they’re not Catholic, in the minds of some).
Thus, from the Catholic perspective, it would appear that it’s a choice between a crapshoot and the RCC, but to one who isn’t Catholic, ours is yet another denomination of believers (at best) or the one single denomination that is unacceptable.
I’m not sure which premise, if any, you are disagreeing with: I approach the problem strictly, for the sake of argument, from the point of view of a non-believer: the numbers, hence the odds, beggar belief.
Commonsense, I am assuming, rests with the RCC: an un-believer historically literate and rationally drawn to Christianity discards Protestantism as hopelessly complex numerous and self-contradictory and an offshoot, at best, from the RCC.
You say Protestants claim unity in appealing to Christ, but that is not what makes them protestant as such, and that claim of unity is just one among many which, given the number of sects, has to be adjudicated. Just how long would that take for our poor non-believer?
Protestants would have us believe there is a unity in the multiplicity: but that is the very claim which cannot, rationally, be entertained as a matter of belief: it has to be demonstrated.
Which it cannot be, since no one sect really knows what another sect is doing: there are too many sects, and too many sectarians, for that.
So we are adding problems (and solving none) to the initial one the astronomical numbers imply the more we reflect on the divisive and atomistic nature of Protestantism.
Dante is absolutely right. I was a cradle Catholic, left it for a small cult, and then became part of the great Protestant crowd. For the most part, Protestant churches do not judge each other, but accept the differences. The one Church they will judge, outside of non-Christian churches and cults, is the Catholic Church, believing it to be the great false Church. I find it very telling that despite that fact, Catholics accept Protestants as Christian brothers and sisters.
Having been on both sides of the fence, I must say that the Protestant churches for the most part are very shallow places because everything is a symbol to them. One of the major reasons why the Catholic Church is so rich in faith is because of the Sacraments, which are not symbols but are the actual presence of God. There are many devout and holy people among the Protestants, but even though they are not aware of it, their relationship with God is limited because of their rejection of the one Apostolic Church. They can’t understand why things like artificial birth control is wrong because they don’t have the fullness of the faith as Catholics do. Their rejection of devotion to Mary and the saints, and of course the Divine Presence in the Eucharist, cripples them as Christians, but there is no way they can ever know that, and instead, they dismiss Catholics as being pagan.
As Catholics, we have so much to be grateful for. I thank God every day for bringing me back to his wonderful Church.
I see what you mean, but like most churches Protestant ones are happy to take all comers: it is not a question of whether thy judge one another (they do) but what a non-believer is to do given the fantastic number of sects, a number which can only mean the sects are no expression of the will of God for His church.
Let’s remember that you can’t group all Protestant theology into one group, as you can with Roman Catholicism. It’s like putting a bunch of round pegs in a square hole.
With that being said, most Protestants faiths realize they have to refrain from judging others, because then it would become a veritable battle royale with 30-100 different religions each vying to be the one true religion.
By calling it Protestant theology, you have just grouped it into one.
That’s fine and logical: it’s the countless, contradictory, and (let’s face it) false differences between the sects which then come into evidence: but that always already follows from the very nature of protestantism, as the incredible number of sects proves.
Square pegs in round holes would be a relief next to having to play the Christian in name only Lottery Protestants invented and perpetuate to this very day.
But you’re still looking at this from a Catholic perspective. Say Joe Atheist is interested in becoming a Christian. From his point of view, there are myriad denominations he could join, of which the RCC is merely one. He does not operate from the starting point “The Catholic Church possesses the truth; how true are these other denominations?”
Instead, he sees one Protestant denomination after the other accepting him because he accepts Christ, and one Protestant denominaton after another condemning the RCC.
Simple logic (even if it isn’t flawed) and common sense (which, in your example, assumes a point of view that is invalid in the nonbeliever’s case) are not enough here. His first assumptions and yours are vastly different, and he’s not merely a child with a blank slate for a spiritual life. Many mature, erudite, and deeply spiritual people have managed to find reasons that the RCC is not the one true Church – and it’s very hard to convince them otherwise.
No, I am saying it is a non-believer–atheist or agnostic, as you will–whose commonsense would dictate rejecting the lottery for the RCC: if you want, on a Catholic website, for me to exclude all other religions, too, that would take a few threads, or to prove the truth of the RCC, that would be beside the point, that would take a few more. I am a Catholic because I am convinced that the RCC is true, not because I am simply assuming a perspective, and it would be no small matter, though no very great one, to convince others of this. Some perspective clarify, others do not and can never do so.
The mature etc. person you’ve described is a strawman: you underestimate the ignorance that is so rife it seems a part of the nature of homo Americanus. But to even this strawman I would say: so, you are sure that, breaking away from the RCC directly or indirectly, yours is the protestant sect which is the one true church Christ wanted, even as your very raison d’etre, as a protestant, is to protest, and even as your sect by definition has broken with another sect and thus is in some disagreement with it? You are so sure of it that you can say in good conscience you’ve won the lottery with a 1/100 to 1/30,000 chance of winning?
You seem to assume that protestantism is Catholicism with a difference or two: a gentleman’s religion it is too polite to mention the grotesque shortcomings and works of even as it alligns itself with abortion and gay marriage. These are precisely the kind of by their works you shall know them events that lead Protestants out of the lottery and into the RCC and that lead them to see that they were among the most diverse and numerous culturally determined bunch in Christendom.
Lottery: the odds are, whatever else they represent, not God’s odds, and cannot be.
Then I don’t see the force of your argument. If one can be saved even if one picks an imperfect denomination, then one’s salvation does not depend on a lottery (or at least the variety of denominations does not prove this).
If you are saying that these denominations differ on important matters of the faith (something you pointed out elsewhere with regard to moral issues), then I agree with you. But again, some knowledge of Protestantism is necessary to make this argument persuasively. Many denominations, for instance, have very tiny doctrinal differences among them or none at all. (To me the fact that Protestants split over personalities is actually the worst indictment of all, so I’m not holding this up as an excuse for Protestantism.)
We are starting to understand each other, I think.
What I mean is not mysterious at all. It is that either the RCC is the Church Christ founded in Peter or She is not. She is the one true Church, or She is not. God knows who is saved and who is not. That is a separate matter, no matter our faiths.
But it is incredible that He should have ordained so many and so different and differing Christian sects to achieve that, each distinct enough, plenty in flat contradiction with each other, all nominally Christian and claiming authority from the NT. As far as I am concerned, two such sects would be more than enough to raise the argument I am trying, from the point of view of a non-believer, although there are plainly many more than two.
Either the differences between sects–as that between Protestantism and the RCC in the first place–are major or minor: it seems to me morality is as good a place as any, but I would definitely wish to include such forms as the church itself because I am sure we agree that having the truth is not the same as keeping and conveying it properly.
If the differences are major, the burden of proof falls on Protestants; if minor, this only speaks to the need for unity, for re-joining, ultimately Rome itself, the sooner the better.
My point is that just as differences like these appear and multiply, so, too, do sects. This is, surely, what is going on in the States–multiplying doctrines with each and every ‘doctor’–and elsewhere. If denomination or sect has any substantive meaning in relation to *vera religio *(or veraereligioni), belief as such is the difference I am capturing with my excursion in numbers. And that difference is undeniable.
To me, this is but overdetermined by the nature of protest as a principle of organization or thought, dressed up as reform though it may be. It is sad and destructive of society and true faith and the sooner Protestants understand that the better.
I am not triumphalistic in my estimate, which is no more than what common sense dictates. The stakes are too high for that, and the present situation is deeply sad; but no sensible person could choose with any hope of success except against the terrible odds from the lottery before him.