Jesus is my authority

So I’m debating a Protestant who’s very anti-Catholic and anti-Pope, and I tossed out the “Who’s your Authority?” question everyone keeps telling us to pose to Protestants.

Their answer was “Jesus is my authority”…how do I counter that???

Isn’t he lucky to have Jesus on call like that! Unfortunately, not everyone has such connections, as Jesus and the Holy Spirit don’t appear to each and every believer to help them interpret the Bible, nor does Jesus even appear and hand each individual believer a Bible. Otherwise we’d only have one source text and all believing Christians would have one and the same interpretation, no?

Now we, as Catholics, can claim Jesus as an authority. Why? Because he personally entrusted that teaching authority to his apostles, who entrusted it to those they appointed. Jesus entrusted it to a living and visible Church (which certainly is the communion of all individual believers, but is also present visibly in the Bishops and priests). That authority comes directly from Jesus.

But can your friend claim that? That Jesus is personally revealing how to read the Bible to him directly? And all “Bible-believing” Christians? There is a broken link there between Jesus’ authority and him. I could go on, but I’m not sure there’s a point. I’m not sure how much headway you’ll make in this discussion, or that he’ll see it the same way. It’s probable that the type of Christian you’re dealing with believes the Bible is easily interpretable and not nuanced and can be easily read and understood by any individual… It’s just a fundamentally different outlook.

“He’s mine too. How can we possibly disagree then?”

Good luck.


Thanks Wesrock. Your response is great! This gives me something to start working with!

He’s our authority too.

Difference is we don’t try to dismantle the body of Christ.

You can’t separate Jesus from the Church ACTS 9:4.

But ultimately the protestant is in a sense his own authority. Since books always require a interpreter.

Some protestants believe in infant baptism. Some protestants don’t. Some protestants believe Communion is symbolic…others don’t. Not one denomination allowed contraception prior to 1930. Now they all do.

Are we supposed to believe that their authority(Jesus) is giving conflicting doctrine to these people? Or that he changed his mind after 1930? Did Jesus sway with the way of the times or did people do whatever they wanted to do since they have no visible authority to answer to?

I think we all know the answer to this question.

Yes i think most protestants as a whole are good Christians and are believing they are gonna be held accountable at life’s end. So they try to do right. But at the same time Sola Scriptura never allows for total truth. There’s always going to be issues they cant resolve or agree on…and since the NT isn’t in textbook form, they have no where to get the definitive answers and so they naturally become their own authority. But most don’t realize this, imo. So you have to be kind and gentle in your approach.

Many non-Catholics i know tells me this including the non Trinitarians. But when asked which non-Catholic “Jesus authority” trumps the other? - crickets…, or “the wheather sure is nice today”…


Hold him to it. Does his eye or hand offend him?

I’m currently a Presbyterian, and this is actually an issue I’m struggling with and one of the things that got me looking into Catholicism.

What does he mean by that? I assume he means that Jesus as found in the Bible is his authority. But, how does he know that his interpretation of Jesus’ teachings are correct, when there are other committed Christians seeking to faithfully follow the teachings of Jesus who interpret the same passage differently?

Thank you! This is all great stuff! My end game is to actually invite this Protestant (my cousin) to a Catholic mass. I play in the choir so I have a good chance to make this happen, but they are putting up these road blocks.

Detles – Thanks for responding. I do believe that is what she is getting at. She believes she can have a very literal interpretation of the Bible as her authority…which is odd, because if you follow a strict literal interpretation of the Bible, it pretty much validates things such as the Eucharist, the Priesthood, Confession, Purgatory, Honoring Mary, etc…you know all those things Protestants like to say are just “symbolic”

She’s also a big fan of Luther.

All VERY useful…especially your last statement…“you have to be kind in your approach!” – I’m trying my hardest! :slight_smile:

–Thank you!

I’m subscribing.

Jesus is our authority too. He left us a Pope.

I love this response!

He left us a Church. The Pope is a servant of the Church.

Stay with Authority but focus on the Church. Jesus is our Authority and He passed that Authority on to the Catholic Church. Of course they don’t believe that but they have to acknowledge that Jesus founded a Church. What Church is that? Then ask them if Jesus left any instructions on the Bible. How did the Bible come to be?. How does Jesus tell us to resolve our differences? The Bible? Nope…take it to the Church.

Of course you could also say…if Jesus is your Authority then why aren’t you Catholic. :slight_smile:

Great points…especially pointing out that Jesus told us to resolve our differences by taking it to the Church…he didn’t say go read the Bible!

Thank you!!!

I would say to him “that is great”. You then believe in the Sacred Tradition also. It was given to us by Jesus.


He follows himself. Jesus said to take it to the Church. I would stop discussion and simply pray for him. The Holy Spirit is much stronger than words.

Even for Catholics, Jesus is the ultimate authority. However, Catholics recognize that Jesus delegated some of his authority to men, to Peter and His other apostles, who in turn delegated some of Jesus’ authority on those men whom they ordained by the laying on of their hands as church elders/presbyters/priests (presbuteroi), also known as bishops/overseers (episkopois). Bishops were ordained in every local Church either by apostles or by other bishops previously-ordained in a line of succession from the apostles (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5), a practice (the ordination of bishops) that continued throughout Church history down to the present day in the Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches.

In Acts 15, Peter, other apostles and bishops (“elders”) who were ordained in a line of succession from the apostles, exercised their God-given authority when they met together in council in Jerusalem to settle the dispute about whether or not Gentile Christians must adopt certain Jewish practices, such as circumcision. Their decision against requiring the adoption of such practices was regarded not only as their own human decision but as also the decision of the Holy Spirit and all Christians were expected to abide by it. This was the first of many such authoritative church councils of ordained bishops throughout the Church’s history.

It was these ordained “bishops” or “elders” the New Testament writers spoke of, saying:
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons. (Philippians 1:1)

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed. Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:1-4)

Now a bishop must be … an apt teacher… He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God’s church? (1 Timothy 3:2,4-5)

For a bishop, as God’s steward, must … hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine … (Titus 1:7-8)

It was concerning these ordained bishops (“leaders”) that the author of Hebrews wrote of, saying:
Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17)
It was to these ordained bishops (“elders”) at Miletus that St Paul said:
Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you bishops (episkopous), to feed the church of the Lord which he obtained with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)
It was concerning these ordained bishops (“pastors and teachers”) that St Paul said:
And [Christ’s] gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipment of the saints, for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. (Ephesians 4:11-14)
It was concerning these ordained bishops and their God-given “authority,” that Jude wrote of, saying, “Yet in like manner these [ungodly] men in their dreamings … reject authority… Woe to them! For they …perish in Korah’s rebellion.” (Jude 1:8,11) Remember, in the Old Testament, Korah and other Levites rebelled and tried to usurp the God-given authority of Moses and Aaron. (See Numbers 16)

New Testament authors warned against those who, relying on their own private interpretation of Scripture, “twist [Scripture] to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16) and against those who " will not endure sound teaching [such as taught by ordained bishops, like Timothy], but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings… (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Even St Paul eventually submitted the gospel that he was preaching among the Gentiles to the peer review of those who were apostles before him, namely, “James, Cephas and John,” “lest somehow I should be running or had run in vain.” (Galatians 2:2,9)

With Matthew 28:
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

“therefore” is a conjunctive verb joining His authority with the authority of the Church He set up. It’s one and the same authority. To knowingly reject the authority of the Church is to reject the authority of Christ. “authority” is in the context of shepherd, not dominating dictatorship.

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