Protestant stumped me

So, the conversation started when a Catholic threw out the old ‘30,000 different protestant churches’ argument. Then the Protestant said Catholics disagree on doctrine too…
Well, obviously I had to chime in at this point and with all of the confidence in the world state that ALL faithful Catholics agree upon the doctrines found in the Catechism… to which he replied with the following arguments:

Many Catholics hold to different doctrines of grace, and thus different views on soteriology. Using as his reference, he cited Thomism, Molinism, Augustinianism, Congruism and Syncretism all as different Catholic systems of grace.

Secondly, he noted that Eastern rite Catholics reject “transubstantiation” and yet are still Catholic. I thought this must be a mistake, but upon doing a little searching it does seem that the Byzantine and other Eastern rite Churches indeed take issue with the term. This is problematic to my argument since the CCC ( 1376 ) states clearly " This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation."

( how can eastern rite Catholics reject what is in the Catechism and remain Catholic ? )

The same goes for Purgatory. The CCC 1031 clearly teaches that the CHURCH holds purgatory to be doctrine, yet the Eastern rite clearly take issue with this as well.

And yet again the Eastern rite takes issue with the Latin rite concerning Original sin.

I’m a little taken aback by this. I was under the impression that All Catholics agree on the doctrines outlined in the Catechism… but it seems this is not so. What am I missing here ? It certainly SEEMS that Catholics do indeed separate over doctrinal differences much like protestants ( though obviously not to the same magnitude ), How can this be ?

Not every aspect of every doctrine is defined infallibly. That our sins are atoned through Christ is infallible. The process through which that might happen is open to interpretation, and some Dominican scholars have looked at this differently from some Franciscan scholars, for instance. There are different, compatible schools of thought within Catholicism. Not all truths are essential, and even the essential ones may be expressed differently in Eastern and Western Catholic Churches. But clearly the Eastern and Western rites, Augustinians and Molinists, are all on one side. On the other side are Catholic heretics, and persons in other Christian communions. Of course a person who is a Thomist could become a heretic, just as a person in any other philosophical school. A strong minority of Thomists have never been Catholic, they just identify with a philosophical system that makes sense, on its own merits.

How many Catholic churches are there? I would say a Catholic is a person in union in faith and practice with the Pope. There is only one Catholic Church, including Eastern and Western. The Maronites are certainly in it. The Polish National Catholics, and hundreds of others with the word “Catholic” in their name, are outside it.

I don’t recommend anyone use that “30,000 Protestant denominations” argument. It is not persuasive at all.

Yes but how can the Eastern rite be a part of the Catholic Church and dispute what is written in the Catechism of that very Church ???

The Catholic Church protects the deposit of faith. Where possible, she is strives and works for unity as Jesus proscribed. It’s faulty to compare striving for unity to ever-increasing disunity in non-Catholic denominations/churches that pop up based on the ego of preachers who assert their version of truth is “the truth” rather than the teachings of the Church Jesus himself instituted.

But even so, when your friend insinuates that it’s not bad (despite Jesus saying so) because there is variance in the Catholic Church, too, he is unwittingly admitting that the Catholic Church is authoritative. Woops.

1990 Code of Canons of the Oriental churches. 598 - All that is contained in the written word of God or in tradition, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church and also proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium, must be believed with divine and catholic faith; it is manifested by the common adherence of the Christian faithful under the leadership of the sacred magisterium; therefore, all are bound to avoid any doctrines whatever which are contrary to these truths.
§2. Furthermore, each and every thing set forth definitively by the magisterium of the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals must be firmly accepted and held; namely, those things required for the holy keeping and faithful exposition of the deposit of faith; therefore, anyone who rejects propositions that are to be held definitively sets himself against the teaching of the Catholic Church.

Canon 599 - A religious obsequium of intellect and will, even if not the assent of faith, is to be paid to the teaching on faith or morals which the Roman Pontiff or the college of bishops enunciate when they exercise the authentic magisterium even if they do not intend to proclaim it with a definitive act; therefore the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid whatever is not in harmony with that teaching.

Canon 600 - Although they do not enjoy infallible teaching authority, the bishops who are in communion with the head and members of the college, whether as individuals or gathered in synods or in particular councils, are authentic teachers and instructors of the faith for the faithful entrusted to their care; the faithful must adhere to the authentic teaching of their own bishops with a religious obsequium of soul.Not everything in the CCC is an infallible doctrine. Just as an example, in reading Scripture, the Catechism speaks about the different senses that can be looked at. (See CCC 115)
This is sound teaching, but to my knowledge there’s never been any infallible decree put forth that everyone must believe it.

The Eastern rites of the Catholic Church do accept the doctrine of Purgatory.

Maybe I am totally misunderstanding the New Advent article, but I don’t see the problem with doctrine there that you are seeing. This just talks about different ideas about grace vs free will, different ways to try to explain this. It does not address different doctrines of grace. Different doctrines would be things like, for example, the belief that grace subverts free will.

I think some of the problems you (and your friend) might be having is separating theological theories from doctrine.

Great questions and I’m looking forward to great many great answers.

As to the “disagreements” argument that the protestant made…The singular difference here is that the various rites, and spiritualities within the Church do not stand opposed to each other. They all submit, one to the other and to the authority of the Church. The various writings, disciplines, rules etc that he refers to have all been examined by the Church and found to be acceptable.
If anything in a system were found to be objectionable - contrary to revealed truth, then it would be rejected - or at least discussed and modifies.
Thus it is that the Church has many different spiritualities within it.

Compare this to the protestant model where no councils take place, not concerted effort is made, and no central “clearing house” (magisterium) is maintained in order to avoid contradictions and confusion.
Within the protestant family of communions you have those who teach the real presence and those who reject the real presence; Those who baptize infants, and those who do not; those believe in OSAS and those who reject this concept - and the list goes on.

As to the matters of the Catechism - I’ll have to leave that to others - -


Eastern Catholics do not reject the term transubstantiation, Purgatory, or Original Sin. Be careful that you are looking up Byzantine CATHOLICS and not Byzantine ORTHODOX. The Eastern Orthodox churches often reject those things, but the Eastern Catholics do not. If you find evidence to the contrary, please post it here.

I hope the OP doesn’t mind but I linked this in the Eastern Catholic Forum to help the OP get a better handle on what’s been alleged.

There is also this that I recently found out, here in America there are Protestants that embraced the orthodox beliefs and built churches that appear to be Catholic and even say so on their signs but are in fact founded by Protestants! I went HUH? What will they think of next? Not all that glitters is gold.


First, congratualions on your continuing “education”. It can be difficult when we research long held beliefs we’ve never questioned and come up with answers different than we imagined.

Second, the “30,000 Protestant Denominations” is not correct. There was a thread here not too long ago in which the study quoted really came down to about 6000+. Still not a small number.

Third, that same study lists several hundred “Catholic” denominations. While his method counted each country as a differrent denomination, such that Canada and the USA would be counted as 2 denominations, it still points out there is not as much unity as is often presumed.

Fourth. It’s ok. We (Christians) are not autonminons (I don’t even know if that’s a real word…), we can view certain things differently and still be Christian. Look at this quote about Papal Infallibility.

"Vatican Council, Sess. IV, Const. de Ecclesiâ Christi, c. iv: “We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church,…”

I am sure the Eastern, Byzantine, Russian Orthodox would not agree with this Doctrine, nor SSPX, or any of Independent Catholic Churches, but they are still Catholic. Just because they don’t believe it does not lessen anything about the RCC.

Sorry about the length. Good luck on your journey.:thumbsup:

The various Orthodox and even Anglicans can call themselves “catholic” but they are obviously not in union with Rome, and they are NOT Catholic. For most who post on this forum the term “Catholic” is synonymous with what you refer to as “RCC.”

Similarly, some people living in America “believe” in the “Papacy” and call themselves the true “Pope.” But that does not make it so.


Dogmas are the essentials of faith. Doctrines are how we understand and convey those essentials according to theology, culture, history, and time.

All Catholics agree on all dogmas. We all recognize the same truths.
Protestants disagree with each other and with the Church on dogmas. They reject some or all of the truths of God. They hold to heresies.

Where you’re going wrong is that you’re arguing against dogma with doctrine. You’re opening yourself up to this attack that it is legitimate to disagree with your theology, because it is legitimate to disagree with your theology. There are other orthodox ways of expressing the same truth. Eastern and Oriental theologies do not contradict Roman theology. In many cases, Protestant theology does contradict Roman theology, but this is because they reject the underlying truth or dogma. It is better to argue the dogma and heresy, especially when you aren’t well-formed in the orthodox ways of expressing the truth.

The ECC view is that we accept transubstantiation but do not normally use the term, nor the aristotilian terminology it is couched in.

the Eastern Orthodox believe is the same fundamental transformation, but again, reject the terminology.

Thank you Aramis, and everyone else for your replies. I’m a convert to Catholicism ( less than a year ) and still learning. :yukonjoe:

All Roman Catholics-and EO -believe that the grace of God is absolutely essential-and that grace can be resisted by man-something Protestants argue about.
All Roman Catholics- and EO- believe in a purification process, by whatever name you want to use- after death-something no Protestants agree with as far as I know.
All Roman Catholics-and EO-believe in the Real Presence, and transubstantiation, by whatever names you want to call them-while most Protestants believe in neither.
Some EO like to embellish or emphasize supposed differences because they oppose Roman Catholicism for other reasons but the truth is that the differences are few and far between, especially considering the centuries of isolation from each other-and especially when those two Churches are compared to Protestantism.

The essential dogma is that there is a place of transition or transformation for those en-route to Heaven, and that prayer is efficacious for the dead who are in this state.

The dogma is that the Eucharist is the actual body and blood of Christ in the form of bread and wine.

That’s what you should argue. Then the theological doctrines of theosis and purgatory, or theological and liturgical differences between eastern and western perspectives on the Eucharist, are moot points. Any claim about Catholic disunity is demonstrably false because all the Catholic rites affirm these dogmas which many Protestants reject.

Catechism of the Catholic Church
Paragraph 3. The Church Is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic

Reference Note : 257 Cf. DS 2888.

The Companion to The Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Companion to The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Page 335

“No other Church is Catholic except the one which, founded on the one Peter …”

CreekCrawler - I recommend a book called Catholicism for Dummies. It is excellent and can be had at Amazon cheap. It has all the essential stuff covered in an informative and non-threatening way and will be good enough to get you thru RCIA.

God bless you and welcome to the family. :whacky:


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