How Can Protestants Be Sure?


#1

How can Protestants be sure of their understanding of Scripture?

They acknowledge no infallible Church to interpret the Bible without error, so how do they determine with certainty what the Word of God really says?


#2

They can’t without setting themselves up as an extra-Biblical final authority and violating Sola Scriptura. It’s reason #19 why Sola Scriptura should be rejected.

The best they can do is offer opinions.


#3

Well, my understanding from our Protestant friends is that the primary method is by “using scripture to interpret scripture.” In other words, an interpretation which contradicts some other verse cannot be correct.

Of course, this presumes that the other verse has been correctly interpreted — I’m just setting forth what I believe their position is. Am I close?


#4

When I was in the Assemblies of God we believed the Holy Spirit taught us directly what the Bible meant–that it was clear to anyone who was filled with the Spirit. We never discussed infallibility except when we castigated the Catholic Church for having the audacity of claiming sole rights to interpreting Scripture, speaking as we did then.


#5

Pretty much, its how I was taught to interpret scipture in my upbringing. Read your Bible, praying like crazy for God to help you understand, and hope you got it right.


#6

Two words: HOLY SPIRIT!!! :thumbsup:


#7

We can be reasonably sure in the same way we are sure of anything. Presumably you are asking for some special, infallible, miraculous certainty. We don’t have this about anything so why about Scripture? God hasn’t seen fit to make the world that way.

No infallible authority has told me that my wife loves me, or that my parents are really my parents, or that I was really born in the city of Blackburn on May 13, 1974. Yet I firmly believe all these things.

The question is an illegitimate one from the start.

Never mind that (as Protestant apologists have pointed out over and over to no avail) Catholics are in the same boat. You believe in the infallible Magisterium either because the Magisterium says it is infallible (logically prior to your decision that it is infallible, and hence inadmissible as an “infallible authority”) or because you have concluded this on the basis of the historical, Biblical, experiential (etc.) evidence, which is exactly how Protestants interpret Scripture. And then there’s the fact that the Magisterium’s statements need to be interpreted, and that this applies ad infinitum to the Magisterium’s explanations of its own statements (even assuming that all such statements were infallible, which they aren’t).

I have seen this line of reasoning often mocked, but never refuted. The degree of certainty you are demanding for the interpretation of Scripture (i.e., verification by an infallible authority so that it cannot possibly be doubted) is impossible. It is logically incoherent and leads to total skepticism.

There are plenty of fatal problems with Protestantism (fatal to any claims it might have to be a self-standing version of Christianity, that is) without this. You don’t need to embark on half-baked epistemology in order to defend Catholicism or even (which is not the same thing) attack Protestantism.

In Christ,

Edwin


#8

WOW!!! Beautifully said!!! :smiley: I agree 100%!!! :thumbsup:


#9

This assumption is without basis. You mean it is impossible that God could guarantee his truth 100%? Surely you don’t mean that?

No infallible authority has told me that my wife loves me, or that my parents are really my parents, or that I was really born in the city of Blackburn on May 13, 1974. Yet I firmly believe all these things.

Your wife loving you is strictly experiential, but to know for certain who your parents are and where and when you were born there’s documentation–your birth certificate.

The question is an illegitimate one from the start.

Only if you will not accept any explanation that refutes your original premise.

Never mind that (as Protestant apologists have pointed out over and over to no avail) Catholics are in the same boat. You believe in the infallible Magisterium either because the Magisterium says it is infallible (logically prior to your decision that it is infallible, and hence inadmissible as an “infallible authority”) or because you have concluded this on the basis of the historical, Biblical, experiential (etc.) evidence, which is exactly how Protestants interpret Scripture. And then there’s the fact that the Magisterium’s statements need to be interpreted, and that this applies ad infinitum to the Magisterium’s explanations of its own statements (even assuming that all such statements were infallible, which they aren’t).

No, we don’t. We don’t believe the Magisterium is infallible because the Magisterium says so, but because Jesus said so. He promised the Apostles (and hence their successors) that he would give them the Holy Spirit who would lead them into all truth. Sounds like a solid reason to me.

I have seen this line of reasoning often mocked, but never refuted. The degree of certainty you are demanding for the interpretation of Scripture (i.e., verification by an infallible authority so that it cannot possible be doubted) is impossible. It is logically incoherent and leads to total skepticism.

No need for mockery only for pointing out what we Catholic actually believe–not the strawman you have created for us to try to refute.

There are plenty of fatal problems with Protestantism (fatal to any claims it might have to be a self-standing version of Christianity, that is) without this. You don’t need to embark on half-baked epistemology in order to defend Catholicism or even (which is not the same thing) attack Protestantism.

In Christ,

Edwin

You’re quite right about this. All we need do is tell the truth.


#10

I don’t know what you mean by “guarantee 100%.” But I made no statements about what God could do, only about what God has done.

Your wife loving you is strictly experiential, but to know for certain who your parents are and where and when you were born there’s documentation–your birth certificate.

Birth certificates are not infallible. Randy is demanding “infallible authority.”

Only if you will not accept any explanation that refutes your original premise.

When such a refutation is offered, then it’s time to decide whether I accept it or not!

No, we don’t. We don’t believe the Magisterium is infallible because the Magisterium says so, but because Jesus said so. He promised the Apostles (and hence their successors) that he would give them the Holy Spirit who would lead them into all truth. Sounds like a solid reason to me.

Of course it’s solid. That is not the point. But Randy obviously thinks it isn’t. You should argue with him, not me. He objected that Protestants have no “infallible authority” to tell them how to interpret Scripture. You are claiming that you can be certain as to what Jesus said and what He meant by it without any such infallible authority–by exactly the means that Protestants use to interpret Scripture.

No need for mockery only for pointing out what we Catholic actually believe–not the strawman you have created for us to try to refute.

Randy created the strawman by alleging that we cannot be certain of anything for which we do not have “infallible authority.” He is not the only Catholic to argue this way. I am quite aware that Catholicism does not rest on Randy’s arguments, and I’m not trying to refute Catholicism, only one particular bad argument for it.

In Christ,

Edwin


#11

I can feel the “we don’t need to be certain” winds stirring up again.

If that’s God’s plan for doctrine, then maybe we should adjust some Scripture:

…I will give you the keys to the kingdom, and whatever you bind on earth will be, for the most part, bound in heaven, and whatever to loose on earth might be loosed in heaven…

…whoever hears you, sometimes hears me, whoever rejects you, may be rejecting me…

…the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of some truth.

…I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he might possibly guide you to truth…

…one Lord, one faith when it comes to central important stuff (whatever that may be), one baptism; one God and Father of all…

…If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then what can you do? Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s wrong…


#12

Let’s take a concrete example and explore it. Protestants read the bible carefully and a great many do not find in it that the Eucharist is the actual, real flesh and blood of Christ. Other Protestants do find in the Real Presence in the bible. But I have never heard of a Protestant who read and listened to the teachings of the Church with the same care and did not eventually find in them that the Church teaches that the Eucharist is the actual, real flesh and blood of Christ.

So Protestants who find different fundamental understandings in the bible, have no problem finding one fundamental understanding in the teachings of the Church.


#13

Let me use an analogy to show why Catholics think this claim is silly.

Let’s say company A and company B both have people who perform math problems, but everyone has a poor ability to do the problems on their own, let say they bat .400.

But, company A thinks it acceptable to use calculators which enables all their employees to get consistent answers all the time, indicating to them that they don’t have to worry about their poor math skills.

Company B doesn’t think calculators are of any benefit despite company A’s results and is frustratred that many people in their company are constantly coming up with conflicting answers.

When company A asserts that company B’s method isn’t the proper approach, company B retorts that company A employees could falter just like company B if they couldn’t find their calculators or if they got a busted calculator, and thus they’re in the exact same boat.

Company A looks the long term results of both companies and doesn’t see how they are in the same boat with Company B at all.


#14

But the point is that for n-C churches to assert the infallible Sola Scriptura belief in the Bible is flawed logically since they cannot point to an authoritative source for the Canon without accepting the early church councils of the Catholic Church. If they do that then their whole doctrine collapses because they will have acknowledged that that early Catholic Church really did have and exercise the authority to examine texts and make a definitive judgment as to what is inspired by the Holy Spirit and authored authentic sources.


#15

I would answer your question with a question. How can Catholics be sure of their understanding of Scripture? You take the word of the Church as to what the correct meaning is, but how do you know that what they tell you is correct? The church claims the guidance of the Holy Spirit but so do “protestants”. Who is right?


#16

The can be as sure about their interpretation of their rule of faith as you are about interpreting your infallible rule of faith. As a matter of fact it is worse for you, because you have three infallible rules of faith to interpret.


#17

If this were true, then half of the people who carefully studied the teachings of the Church on the Real Presence in the Eucharist, would conclude that the Church teaches that the Eucharist is only symbolic.

But in actual fact, nobody who carefully studies the teachings of the Church ever comes to that conclusion. Not even Protestants come to that conclusion. :slight_smile:

Thus your assertion is demonstrated to be incorrect.


#18

First, for the obvious. As much of the posts around here Catholics keep committing fallacious comparison. They want to compare one denomination( Catholicism ) against a group of denominations( Protestants). However, for an adequate comparison lets compare Catholicism against Presbyterians or Lutherans.

Second, by picking one doctrine where there is unity is composition fallacy. Lets pick another. For example, predestination. I’ve been told there are as many as four different views in Catholicism. How can Catholics be sure?


#19

Whoa! Hold on here.

I said none of these things. I did say that Protestants acknowledge no infallible Church by which they interpret scripture without error.

Sheesh. All I asked is how you can be sure or your interpretation of scripture?


#20

No, the comparison is between a Church with a Magisterium and churches that are bible-alone. Thus the question, how can the latter be sure.

Second, by picking one doctrine where there is unity is composition fallacy. Lets pick another. For example, predestination. I’ve been told there are as many as four different views in Catholicism. How can Catholics be sure?

If the Church allows a variety of beliefs on a matter then there’s no need to “be sure”. The fact is, where the Church teaches on a fundamental doctrine which divides Protestants, there is no division even among those Protestants on the question of what the Church teaches.


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