Protestant Explanation

Hello, I’m new on CAF and this is the first time I’ve posted in this forum. I’ve wanted to find the answer to this question for a long time.

Some protestants belief that we should only believe what’s found in the Bible. They don’t accept Sacred Tradition. If we should only believe what’s in the Bible how did the first christians know what to believe? The church came first not the Bible. Without a Bible how did the first christians know what to believe? I believe the church came about on the first Pentecost. Do protestants think that the church’s start was delayed until the Bible was produced? If they do what do they believe happened in the hiatus between Christ’s Ascension and the production of the Bible?

What I’m saying is that what christians believe must have come from the oral tradition from the time of the apsotles. How can protestants say everything we need to believe can only be found in the Bible and reject Sacred Tradition?

I’m a Protestant who understands the importance of sacred oral and written tradition. Even though the first Christians relied on sacred oral tradition, they lived closer to the actual time of the Apostles and Jesus; they also had the OT Scriptures too.

They did have the OT but not the NT. Don’t we as christians rely more on the NT than the OT and shouldn’t we now read the OT in the light of the NT? What the first christians relied on was the sacred oral tradition. These have been passed on to the present day. There are some protestants who don’t accept this tradition. I’d be interested to know why they don’t accept this oral tradition. Mainly I’m trying to find out what they think the first christians believed and how they knew what to believe without a Bible.

Sorry St_Stephen, are you interested in the opinions of Protestants, or are you just telling us what you think? The original post is phrased as if it’s a question, but all you’ve done is give us your opinion so far. If you were genuinely interested, you would have just asked.

I think the Old and New Testaments are equally important because the Bible is God’s revelation about His redemptive history of mankind. We need a good working knowledge of the Old Testament to properly understand the New Testament. Also we should understand the Old Testament in light of the New Testament. Many Protestants are not very knowledgably about church history and they act like the Bible fell out of the sky into their laps. I bet the first Christians believed all kinds of things; therefore, we have letters from the Apostles to guide them to correct thinking and beliefs.

I noticed that as well.

To try and answer the O.P.'s question, Protestants glean this understanding from Scripture that God’s written word is held in the highest regard (Google search for specifics, as I’m on a smartphone and it’s hard to link stuff)

Hi Stephen,
A true understanding of sola scriptura does not include a rejection of Tradition, but rather an embrace of it. The Lutheran confessions regularly reference the ECF’s. What sola scriptura is is the practice of holding all teachers, teachings, doctrine and dogma accountalbe to scripture as the final norm. To be sure, the early Church, in the midst of the Apostles themselves, used oral Tradition, based on the teachings of the Apostles, and that’s what the early Christians relied on. Scripture is the result of those teachings, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Now that’s not to say that there were things that were not written done. There was, as St John tells us. What we’re saying, however, is that it is difficult to know with certainty what those things were, and the conscence of the believer should not be bound to them.

Sola scriptura is not “the Bible and me”. It is not individual interpretation. It is not an exclusion of the historic teaching of the Church.


Which Catholic doctrines and dogmas are not found (at least implicitly) in the bible?

What you describe is “Prima Scriptura” not “Sola Scriptura”. “Prima Scriptura” means that the Bible is held above other sources and “Sola Scriptura” does in fact mean Bible only (no outside sources), or “Bible and me” as you put it. Using “Sola Scriptura” the way you used it is like using “myself” to mean “me and my family” or “me and my friends”.

What I described was what the Lutheran understanding of sola scriptura is - the practice of holding teachers, teachings, doctrines and dogmas to scripture as the final norm.


This is from the Westminster Confession of Faith which represents what many historic Reformed Protestants believe on the issue:

X. The Supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.

If they would pause for a moment and page over from Romans to the Prologue to Luke, they might just begin to question their beliefs. In that Prologue (Luke 1:1-4), we see that Theophilus learned nothing - zero, zip, nada, from Luke’s Gospel. Luke wrote the Gospel only to confirm the Oral Apostolic Tradition that Theophilus had already learned. That is how Christians learned - exactly as Jesus intended: Oral preaching using the Apostolic Tradition.

Oh, they use a lot of oral preaching, too - the problem is that it is solely pastor’s opinion of what scripture says, since he has zero authority to interpret scripture definitively.

What is also true is that the bible is also a tradition - it is the written tradition that had been handed down to us. “Tradition” simply means something that has been handed on.

Example: Circumcision. Why is it not needed? The scriptures at that time said that it was. Some of the early converts taught that it was. Paul - even Paul! - was not sure, so he went to the Church (Acts 15). Once the Church spoke, the matter was done. Scripture was of no help in deciding this foundational issue. Remember that power of binding and loosing? Circumcision was loosed, even though it had been required from Abraham to Jesus. Jesus gave His Church power to dispense with the very circumcision that He Himself received (Luke 2:21).

This is where cockamamie ideas like the “great apostasy” come from. If the Church has somehow failed, then it is an open invitation to “reform” or “restore” and many false prophets rush in to “help.”

IMO, some seek Christ on their own terms. This does not comport well with Matthew 16:24 or Luke 9:23, however.

One of the claims that the Protestants make when setting us Catholics down to show us how our Church is adjudged by the Bible is it’s inerrancy. The Protestants over look one simple fact, they have no basis in declaring inerrancy since they can’t appeal to any authority for the claim other than the Catholic Church who declared it first. Fr Ronald Knox makes the observation in his book “The Belief of Catholics” circ. 1927 that: “…for a religious connection which claims no infallibility for itself can hardly be justified in investing the Bible with inerrancy!”

He further declares that “For three centuries the true issue between the two parties was obscured, owing to the preposterous action of the Protestants in admiring Biblical inspiration. The Bible, it appeared was common ground between the combatants, the Bible, therefore, was the arena of the struggle; from it the controversialist, like David at the brook, must pick up texts to sling at his adversary. In fact, of course, the Protestant had no conceivable right to base any arguments on the inspiration of the Bible, for the inspiration of the Bible was a doctrine which had been believed, before the Reformation, on the mere authority of the Church; it rested on exactly the same basis as the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Protestantism repudiated Transubstantiation, and in doing so repudiated the authority of the Church; and then, witrhout a shred of logic, calmly went on believing in the inspiration of the Bible, as if nothing had happened!”

One can do no better than stating these facts as did the late Fr. Ronald Knox. Sola scriptura therefore falls on the side of a logical fallacy. For the Potestant finds himself confronted once again with those apodictic time bombs awaiting a later date to become more excplicit. As they do, the sandy basis of Protestantism is more and more apparent as the clear streams of logic wash out more of the structure from underneath it.

God Bless



Sadly, this doctrine overturns Jesus’ establishment of a Church with all authority on earth - the same Church that Paul consulted with and believed over and above the scriptures on the issue of circumcision. See Acts 15. As well, there could have been no such “confession” in the early Church, as there was no NT scripture to be a “supreme authority” I thought that God alone was Supreme. Has the bible become God?

I think ‘Protestant’ here is often used as a bit of a ‘straw-man’. Protestants, that is, people who reject the authority of Rome (and are not Coptics, Orthodox or what have you) are as numerous and as different in beliefs from one another as can be. They are not some homogeneous entity. I am a Protestant. I value tradition. My church recognizes the importance of continuity, of the historic apostolic succession, of the threefold orders of ministry, of liturgical worship and much else besides. There are other Protestants whose services (even within my own Church) vary all the way from the Anglo-Papalists who use the Roman MIssal and pray for the RC bishop in the diocese (instead of the Anglican one) to those who are biblical fundamentalists, believe the Roman Catholic Church is the whore of Babylon and think laypersons should have the power to celebrate the eucharist, which they thin is purely a remembrance. And any in between. And that’s just the Church of England.

Protestantism is not just some catch-all term you can use to contrast with ‘Catholicism’. Name a specific Protestant denomination. Or better, name an individual thinker, philosopher or theologian so that we can analyse the argument. Don’t just set up a position that some people allegedly hold and then attack it - all the while pretending you are asking a question.

What a great post. Thanks for this. :thumbsup:

Fr. Knox uses the subroquet if you prefer in that meaning referable to all “Christianities” (as Knox would put it), tracable of course in some way to the so called Reformation. His general outlines on this and many other issues are impressed upon us by many of the tens of thousands of the scattered who take a position in the majority of cases as described.

You made the point yourself in declaring what any on the outside of it might construe as chaos, given the many different and often conflicting positions under your view. You may if you wish use a name to distinguish your own colour if it is convenient to you. However the convention used to describe the state of affairs that you’ve made us aware of was, as of 1927, a Protestant phenomena.

God Bless



One thing that I have learned on this forum is exactly what you point out. The term “Protestant” covers so many different beliefs that the term should never be used in a broad brush fashion. In this instance, however, I think the inspired nature of Sacred Scripture is held by all denominations of Protestants and therefore the term can be properly used. Cicero54 made a very strong point in this regard; that even those who reject the Catholic Church must accept her judgment and authority in holding the claim that the books of the Bible are inspired. They accept the inspired nature of the Catholic document known as the Bible, as proclaimed by the Catholic Church, and then reject the authority of that very same Church.

What does everything have to be a debate and a defense of the Catholic Faith? The person who started this thread wanted a Protestant explanation on his questions. I think Protestants have answered him without a need to start a full on debate and dispute of our mutually exclusive positions.

I am afraid that we would have innumerable threads, since fundamentalism is almost an individual belief system. Even if there were only 100 denominations out there, the logistics of dialog would be near impossible. I try to preface my comments with “some”, but fail in that at times.

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