how valid is saying "doctrinal differences don't matter, as long as we all adhere on Sola Scriptura"?

Let me bring up again this post of mine (with some rewording) because it has been overlooked in the other thread I’ve started.

I’m into Sola Scriptura these past few weeks. As I’ve read in another forum, a Credobaptist explained that Sola Scriptura does not deny the role of the Church and is even vital for Scripture interpretation. This is exactly what he said:

Those who claim that we believe that the church has no value and ISN’T instrumental in teaching Scripture are wrong. The church is the pillar and foundation of the truth and this “community of God” is instrumental in keeping us in check with the rest of the Christian community. The church is the “interpreter” of Scripture, but the interpretation ISN’T relegated to certain men WITHIN the church.

and then a Catholic, who of course disagrees with Sola Scriptura, attempted to negate this by trying to ask which “Church” is it – is it the Arminian or Calvinist, who aer both having doctrinal or “soteriological” (to borrow the Baptist’s words) differences:

Ah yes of course, now the church has value. Great. Which church? The reformation churches? Which reformation church? Cite one. Would it be the same ‘reformed’ church that spawned two diametrically opposed doctrines side by side like arminianism and calvinism? Which church now is the correct interpreter - the arminian or calvinist? And how does this square with your belief in the right of private interpretation of scripture? Which takes precedence - the CHURCH OR YOUR PRIVATE INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE?

I think the Catholic’s point is quite clear on this: if Sola Scriptura is actually true, then why does it produce two groups having doctrinal or “soteriological” differences? or how could two groups, or denominations, arrive with different set of doctrines but at the same time adhering to only one principle (Sola Scriptura) which “pre-determined” it? (not sure about the word “predetermined”, I used it because Sola Scriptura teaches that all things regarding salvation, doctrine, and Christian way of life, are taught clearly in the bible, at least that’s what the Baptist said. This, I believe is the “root” of all their doctrines. Protestants first adhere to Sola Scriptura to come up with their doctrines)

this is what the Baptist has to say:

Also, of course, this is written under the assumption that [this Catholic]'s church is the true church and that his concept of the church is the correct one. Needless to say, I reject his concept of the church and reject his assumption that the Roman Catholic Church is the true church. Now that we got that out of the way, I want the reader to notice how he removes the concept of Sola Scriptura as I (the adherent) explained it and then reinterprets it to fit what he (the non-adherent) wants to believe about it. Further, he brings up a scenario which has been refuted before. [He] wants to make SS collapse by bringing up two factions within Protestantism that differ soteriologically. He thinks that this refutes what SS teaches. The Arminian and the Calvinist would both agree on the five Solas of the Reformation: Sola Gratia (by grace alone), Sola Fide (by faith alone), Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone), Sola Christus (in Christ alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone). They recognize and do not ignore how they differ on soteriologies, but only in the sense of how it is brought about. Yet, regardless of this difference they agree on the bottom line, that Scripture alone is sufficient in discussing this issue and, thus, we work with the goal of understanding it further, but the Arminian and Calvinist agree that it is salvation is bought about by the grace of God through faith alone. This is what truly saves and not our soteriological differences.

That last part of his statement is disturbing me up until now. I’m still having the impression that this particular guy is telling me just what I’ve stated in my other thread: That for the non-Catholic Christians who are adherents of Sola Scriptura, what “truly saves” is “the grace of God through faith alone” and not the doctrinal/soteriological differences.

I think he has it the reverse: having doctrinal differences with other denominations does not matter, bottomline is, we agree on that one principle that is Sola Sciptura.

but, is that really true? how valid is that?

this led me into asking in my previous thread: if doctrinal differences really don’t matter bec. it is not that that will save us but faith in Jesus, then why don’t they just join us at Mass? Come, participate in the Eucharist. Agree with the Papacy or Infallibility or Immaculate Conception. It doesn’t matter, right? so long as all of us have faith in Jesus, then we’re safe. doctrinal differences do not come in place.

What he’s telling me is yes, there are differences, “we’re working on it,” but “faith alone” first! Well isn’t that what has brought them (including this Baptist with other Sola Scriptura adherents) to soteriological differences in the first place? By all the more focusing on “faith in Jesus” rather than “who Jesus is and what He teaches”? (and up to this point I would like to ask: who’s really making it a “dichotomy” here, is it me or our Protestant brothers?)

Still quite don’t get what our Protestant brethren are saying here. If doctrinal differences do not “truly” save, why “work with the goal of understanding it further”?

For those Protestants (adhering to SS) and also Catholics who understand the Baptist better than me, then perhaps you could point out to me what I’m missing.


But I think that the premise is not correct we Catholics do not believe that Sola Scriptura is a valid doctrine because it can be demostrable be proved it is not logical nor sound.

What did Jesus say to Simon? Simon you are Peter and on this Peter I will write my Byble? :nope: He Said I will build my “Church”
Or did he say go forth and write the Scriptures and teach all to read and interpret them?
:nope: This passage is quite relevant by the way

8:27 And he arose and went: and behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship;
8:30 And Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
8:31 And he said, How can I, except some one shall guide me? And he besought Philip to come up and sit with him.

Here we see that someone is needed as a guide to understand scripture (Old Testament).

The New Testament was first handed down through 'THE CHURCH" and was part of the “Sacred Tradition”.
That there are 2 “churches” that arrived at diametrically opposed views reading the same “Scriptures” surely is Hinting to you that we are withnessing the same problem.
That is without a proper guide you can get yourself in a world of trouble.

Not. < short answer.

Of course I’m Catholic and “we” were still writing “scriptura” when “we” began (the New Testament).

YOU try operating for 1470 years waiting for Gutenberg to get born and start PRINTING up
Bibles so that everybody can GO Sola Scriptura … and you may understand why
having a Magisterium to decide some doctrines once and for all is a good idea.

Plus it is AMAZING what could be (is in some cases) justified by “sola scriptura” plus
“no binding authority” regarding “doctrinal differences”.

Absurd one:
Q: Baal worship is “in the Bible” why can’t we worship him?

A: “IN the Bible yes, but always as something WRONG.”

Q2: But it squares with “Sola Scriptura” and it’s MY interpretation that it’s OK. OK?

A2: No! It breaks the first commandment for heaven’s sake!

Q-: Not if the “Biblical Baal” IS my god. And I have no god before HIM. And don’t take his name in vain. That’s what I think.:hey_bud: - Who’re you? Th’ POPE? (Waves this :bible1: and leaves).

Most Protestants would say that doctrine does matter. Many practice closed communion and have other restrictions on inter-denominational relations. These doctrinal differences may not be sufficient for one group to say that another group are all unsaved, but they are seen as error. The Roman Catholic church teaches, I think, something similar. I’ve heard that section 818 of the catechism includes Protestant churches in its statement, “However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.”

One way to look at it is as an extension of the principles set forth in Romans 14, which concludes with “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” A couple examples:

"5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean."

A person is able to believe that those of another denomination might not be damned, but that still doesn’t mean that they should participate in expressions of worship with which they don’t agree.


This dialogue entertains acceptance of certain parameters. Doing that creates a dialogue of confusion. I believe that several questions should be answered.

What do you mean by Church? Using the word Church as if each is speaking of the same thing in dialogue is confusing.

What do you mean by Scripture? Where did Protestants get the Bible and is it the same Bible that all Christianity uses?

If agreement on essentials is essential and disagreement on doctrine is acceptable, who decided that and on what authority was that decided? There is no infallible authority in Protestant thought and why am I or you to accept these essentials? This notion of essentials is not infallible.

Does the Bible teach that Doctrines are not essential?

Sola Scriptura is an error. Do not miss, also, that what the Calvinist or Arminian says saves - faith alone - is sola fide, another error.

We Catholics do not believe in either sola Scriptura or sola fide. Sacred Scripture is one of the three pillars of our faith, with the other two being the Magisterium and Sacred Tradition. The Protestant has rejected both, and the Baptist writer even says this. Faith in God and in the saving work of the Cross is the means of salvation for humankind. This is true. But sola fide is a Protestant idea. Faith saves, but we also play a part (see Philippians 2:12). We cannot save ourselves through works - salvation is through Jesus alone - but our works are used in our sanctification (the process of becoming more holy).

A big problem with sola Scriptura is the question of arbitration. Who decides what is true? Protestants would say the Holy Spirit guides them to know what is true when using the Scriptures alone. But this is problematic. Some well-meaning Protestants have completely opposite interpretations of Scripture - and BIG parts of Scripture. The Holy Spirit would not contradict Himself. So then, at least one interpretation is error. But which one? There is no arbiter, no interpreter. Each person is left to decide for himself/herself. We see the results of that self-interpretation in the more than 40,000 denominations worldwide.

As a personal note, I was a Calvinist before conversion. The uncertainty of interpretation of Scripture was something that bothered me for years. It did not seem that Christ would leave such a vital task to each person’s interpretation of what the Holy Spirit was saying. This started my husband and I on the road to the Catholic Church. We are blessed to have the Magisterium (with true apostolic succession) and Sacred Tradition of 2,000 years of history to guide us.

So, no, I would not say that doctrinal differences don’t matter, as long as we hold to sola Scriptura, unless you are speaking of Protestants of different denominations. They may see it that way (although personal experience says they often don’t). But, seeing as the Catholic Church does not hold to sola Scriptura, we cannot say that.

The notion of “sola scriptura” has 2 major flaws (IMHO), the first being the idea that God has had nothing of importance to say to anyone since the original apostles died, the second being that the testimony of the Saints, people (some of whom) talked with God daily have nothing of value to say or are unreliable.

I think the reason that sola scriptura is pushed so hard by Protestants is that without it, the reason for being a Protestant and opposing the Roman Catholic Church seems baseless and silly.

Forgive me, as I could be wrong, but the corrective use of Sola Scriptura by the church would not necessarily preclude all new doctrine from an ecumenical council. My understanding does seem to indicate that It does preclude new doctrine from any individual.

My church is content with Sola Scriptura, as for us, it corrected false teaching and has kept us from introducing novelties. Frankly in my opinion, most protestant denominations would be much more like my own LC-MS church, if they applied Sola Scriptura as originally stated, and not just used the words or a modern definition to justify change and novelty.

Yes; I would agree. What many denominations (particularly evangelical denominations) call sola scriptura is actually solO scriptura–essentially “only the Bible”. That’s not the original meaning of the slogan from the Reformation. There have been many threads here on this topic.

Jesus considered doctrine to be that given by God and anything else was doctrine of men and it was doctrines of men that sank the Pharisees. When the scripture say, “All scripture is suitable for doctrine,” it is referring to the scriptures used by Jesus and the apostles, and also the Pharisees who had authority over the scriptures; so sound doctrine is the scriptures (interpreted) and not something based on scripture.

Sola Scripture was the cry of the Protestants at the end of the Council of Trent, the Catholics countered with, “If you only have the Bible and the Bible alone you will have to keep the Jewish Sabbath because there is no Biblical justification for changing the Sabbath to Sunday only the Authority of the Catholic Church.” The Protestants couldn’t handle the Jewish Sabbath and so ended the Reformation.

Exactly, Ben. As Lutherans, we accept the early 7 councils, the early creeds, and of course the Lutheran Confessions, not because they are in the Bible, they’re not, but because they rightly reflect the truth of scripture as the Church has interpreted it. Sola scriptura is not a practice ofthe individual Christian, but the Church (and yes, I’m speaking of the Lutheran part of the Church).
So, from the confessions, we get a definition of sola scriptura:

  1. We believe, teach, and confess that the sole rule and standard according to which** all dogmas together with [all] teachers should be estimated and judged are the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and of the New Testament alone**, as it is written Ps. 119:105: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. And St. Paul: Though an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed, Gal. 1:8.

2] Other writings, however, of ancient or modern teachers, whatever name they bear, must not be regarded as equal to the Holy Scriptures, but all of them together be subjected to them, and should not be received otherwise or further than as witnesses, [which are to show] in what manner after the time of the apostles, and at what places, this [pure] doctrine of the prophets and apostles was preserved.

3] 2. And because directly after the times of the apostles, and even while they were still living, false teachers and heretics arose, and symbols, i. e., brief, succinct [categorical] confessions, were composed against them in the early Church, which were regarded as the unanimous, universal Christian faith and confession of the orthodox and true Church, namely, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, **we pledge **ourselves to them, and hereby reject all heresies and dogmas which, contrary to them, have been introduced into the Church of God.

We pledge ourselves to them!!!

To the OP, doctrine does, indeed, matter, as the above implies. And while we are not in the place of God to determine if some loses salvation because of doctrines believed or denied, the stance of the LCMS is that believing in wrong doctrine has its dangers. There is a danger involved in not being baptized, or not baptizing infants. There is a danger in not discerning the true and substantial presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. There is real danger in either believing that one can work his way to salvation on one hand, or believing that having simple faith is license to not do thework He commands in this world on the other.


I believe you are referring to this one:

I think he has it the reverse: having doctrinal differences with other denominations does not matter, bottomline is, we agree on that one principle that is Sola Sciptura.

well, let me clarify that I am trying to rephrase the Baptist/Protestant’s point. The “we” there refers to the Protestant plus the other denominations he’s having differences with. What the Protestant is essentially saying is, having doctrinal differences won’t save, bottomline is “THEY” (that excludes us Catholics) all agree on Sola Scriptura.

which leads me now to the question, how valid is that claim?

May I interject that the claim lacks a level of validity.

First, to say that Catholics won’t be saved because they accept a hermeunetical practice of valuing Sacred Tradition as equal to scripture is specious. If he takes the stance that “doctrine is irrelevent” to salvation, then that must be applied to Catholics as well. If the phrase is we are saved by grace through faith in Christ, and Catholics have faith in Christ, then grace applies also to them on the same grounds.

Second, there are significant points of departure regarding what sola scriptura actually is and teaches. From a Lutheran perspective, SS is not a doctrine, but a practice of the Church. Further, SS in no way excludes doctrinal statements, creeds and councils, but instead holds them accountable to scripture. In fact, when it comes to doctrine, it actually excludes personal interpretation if that interpretation is contrary to church teaching. For example, I cannot remain Lutheran if I believe that the Eucharist is symbolic. A Lutheran pastor cannot preach that from the pulpit. There are those protestants who would disagree with these two points. Hence, the argument that since we all agree on SS falls flat.


Did the Apostles teach different doctrines to different people? Yes or no?

The answer, of course, is “No.” The Apostles all taught the same doctrines…ALL the same doctrines. After all, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit was to guide them into all truth. If they are guided into all truth, then they cannot help but teach identical doctrines…they cannot help but teach the same truths…to all the different peoples they came across. From 1 Cor 11:18-19, it is obvious that there were those among the Corinthians who believed different doctrines. Who taught them these different doctrines, the Apostles? I don’t think so.

Well, if the Apostles didn’t teach different doctrines, then why is it okay for the pastors of today’s thousands upon thousands of Protestant denominations to teach different doctrines one from another? And, if it wasn’t okay for the Corinthians to hold to different beliefs…beliefs that caused division within the Christian congregation…then why is it okay today for Protestants to hold to different beliefs…beliefs that cause division within Christianity? This whole business of not only ignoring doctrinal differences within Protestantism, but actually justifying them with this essential vs. non-essential garbage is something that has no biblical basis whatsoever. Yet, Protestants don’t ever give it a second thought, and they continue to rail constantly against Catholics for the “un-biblical” nature of our beliefs (according to their fallible interpretations of the Bible).

Did the Apostles and other leaders of the early Church believe it was okay to have false doctrines within the Church? Yes or no?

The answer, of course, is “No.” Why, then, do Protestants believe it’s okay for any denomination that has one or more contrary doctrines from theirs, to do so? (Protestants do believe it is okay to do so, at least, as long as these false doctrines are “non-essential.”) For that matter, where does the Bible ever once mention that there is such a thing as a “non-essential” doctrine?

Did the Apostles break fellowship with those who were teaching different doctrines than they were teaching? Yes or no?

The answer to this question is “Yes.” Paul commands Titus to “have nothing more to do with” any man who is “factious,” after he has been warned once or twice (Titus 3:10). Or, as the King James Bible puts it, “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself,” (Titus 3:10-11). So why do Protestants, for the most part, all believe it’s okay to worship and fellowship with those who believe and teach different doctrines and that there is absolutely no problem in doing so?

All of this begs the question, why do Protestants think it’s okay to not have doctrinal conformity amongst the various denominations? How can they think that the lack of doctrinal conformity could in any way be of God?

Since sola scriptura is earlier than the Council of Trent, that doesn’t makes sense to me. Also, Luther taught that according to St. Paul in Galatians, Christians are not under Jewish law, so keeping the Jewish Sabbath wouldn’t apply: “[The Bible] makes it clear that even the Ten Commandments do not pertain to us. We will regard Moses as a teacher, but we will not regard him as our lawgiver.” (Martin Luther, How Christians Should Regard Moses).

Church doctrine does matter, the following is from a book by a Lutheran pastor Klemet Preus and is a very good read. The book is The Fire and the Staff.

  1. However, doctrinal statements actually unite the church in three ways. First, doctrinal statements show the whole church and the world what the church believes.

  2. Second, doctrinal statements unite the church by exposing disunity.

3.Third, doctrinal statements unite the church in its mission to proclaim the Gospel.

The bottom line, Scripture may be the Word of God; however Scripture needs to be interpreted correctly. That is the problem with sola scriptura. I do believe Catholics have the same challenges and issue over correct interpretation as Protestants; however, the Catholic Faith just uses Apostolic Succession as their ace card to state that their interpretation is the correct one when it conflicts with other interperations within the body of Christ. Do I believe the Catholic Faith has a true Ace Card, no not really… but that’s just my personal view.

Here is a tough question for Catholics. If Catholics truly believe in Apostolic Succession and if the Catholic Magestrium teaches that artificial birth control is sin and equal event to abortion, then why do an estimated 98% of Catholics still use artificial birth control?


I had to read Jamil’s post twice, because I wasn’t sure myself as to what he meant by “(which excludes Catholics)”. I think, though, that Jamil means that Catholics are excluded from a belief in SS. I’m guessing that he wasn’t saying that the Protestant or Protestants he’s been paraphrasing are excluding Catholics from salvation.

Can you clarify, Jamil?

What I’m saying is, Protestants believe having doctrinal differences among themselves, i.e. among with their other Protestant counterparts, won’t save or it doesn’t really matter that much at all, because the bottom line is they still agree on the principle of Sola Scriptura.

this is what I meant when I said “Catholics are excluded,” in that Protestants are only speaking in terms of conflict within themselves, not in conflict with other non-Sola scriptura adherents (Catholics).

I am not able to work out why you would conclude or assume from what I said that I implied that sola scriptura did not precede the Council of Trent. Actually I gave no thought to the matter but now that I have I would say sola scriptura has been around since Moses began the Bible. The words “sola scriptura” seem to mean something different to you than to me; to me these words are taken simply literally, that is the scriptures alone without any appended nonsense. Although reading the discussion about sola scriptura it seems I am missing something.

So I have found this on the internet from a Catholic site: Martin Luther (1483-1546) is to be given the credit for inventing the false doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Bible Only or Bible Sufficiency). He had separated himself …

I am not interested in doctrines; whenever I hear the word doctrine the words “of men in place of what God has given” are automatically added. While the KJ uses the word doctrine a lot most translations render the word “teaching” instead. Jesus clearly stated that He is the only teacher and His father is the only authority. Jesus is also the true Sheppard, He is also the judge, and if you are following Jesus you cannot go wrong. The only Biblical example of following men that I am aware of is into the ditch. Jesus is the I AM who gave the Ten Commandments to Moses.

So when you stand before Christ in Judgement and are asked, “Why haven’t you followed me by keeping My commandments as commanded,” what would will you say; Paul said or Luther said. Ignorance of the Law could help, but following men into the ditch will not.

quote “[The Bible] makes it clear that even the Ten Commandments do not pertain to us. We will regard Moses as a teacher, but we will not regard him as our lawgiver.” Unquote.
The Bible does no such thing. This claim is totally FALSE it is not even disputable. Jesus Christ is the Lawgiver and the teacher. Not to diminish Moses role, there are Hebrew writings that refer to Moses as Eloheem Moses.

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