Protestant use of the bible Vs Catholic Use Of the Bible

I have been learning more about catholicism, and does it essentially go like this?

Protestants go by faith alone(even though faith alone is not found in the bible) along with 30K denominations

while catholics use the teachings of the passed down from the apostles?

Haha. That’s a very simplified, childish way of looking at it.

I assure you, our differences are much, much more complicated.

how so?

Unfortunately they are indeed.

Well, I’ll touch on your points but I won’t go in depth because you made a few and each could be their own topic.

Protestants don’t go by faith alone. The argument is that Luther inserted “alone” but his intention had to do with German translation and wasn’t doing anything mischievous. The translation with “alone” has since been removed and isn’t included in any Bible.

We believe we are saved by grace through Faith and works will follow our Faith. Catholics believe likewise, but we often word things differently and it causes confusion. We’re pretty close on this point.

Our denominations are like the Apostolic schism’s in that the (Roman) Catholic Church has very similar beliefs as the Oriental Orthodox Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Catholics, Coptic Orthodox Catholics, and so forth. There may be little differences but we believe to be in communion with each other.

Protestants see Scripture as the highest authority and any of our beliefs must be determined by Scripture where Catholics are content believing something that may not explicitly be laid out in the Bible because of Tradition, as you said.

Please help me understand what you mean by the phrase, “Protestants go by faith alone”.

Keep in mind the term protestant does not refer to a monolithic communion that splintered into 30k "denominations.

Also know that, as Lutherans, we too use the teachings passed down from the apostles. The early councils and creeds are accepted by us, and our Confessions are filled with references to the Church Fathers.


Time for: :popcorn:


Will you please quote your source of research for this? I’ve heard it used many times and always ask fr foundational research but never receive it. Otherwise it is hearsay…

Secondly as has been stated, “Protestantism” is not a uniform set of beliefs. Like Catholicism, Anglicans (who are Protestant, yet Catholic…) trace their lineage to Peter and believe in Tradition as well as Scripture. That said, your answers may vary widely within Anglicans just as answers will vary widely if you ask a Traditional Catholic and a Liberation Catholic about Justification…

Well i see most protestants say we are saved by faith alone and not by works. Over and over protestants say works cant save us, yet in James, Faith without works is dead. So we need Faith + works?

I also saw a reference of luther changing a verse to “shall live by faith alone”

Maybe its just a heresy that people say there are over 30K

"As of 1980 David B. Barrett[2] identified 20,800 Christian denominations worldwide.

ALl i know is protestants are any branch of christianity outside of catholic

You also have to read Paul on Abrahams faith.
Galatians 3:6-9 - “Just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ 7 so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.’ 9 For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed.”
Romans 4:1-3, 10-12 - “What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ … 10 How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, 12 and likewise the ancestor of the circumcised who are not only circumcised but who also follow the example of the faith that our ancestor Abraham had before he was circumcised.” (see all of Rom 4:1-25)
James 2:21-23 - "Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? (cf. Gen 22:9-18) 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. 23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God.
In other words, Paul argues that Abraham was justified (in Gen 15) before he was circumcised (in Gen 17),
while James argues that Abraham’s faith/trust in God was completed and evidenced by his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac (in Gen 22).

Glad you are open to learning. Keep working at it!

This is what I thought you were speaking of, and I explained it. You’ll rarely see faith “alone” in any translations now, the “alone” had to do with the translation into German; really technical linguistic stuff that I don’t know much about. Again though, nothing mischievous.

Works do not save us, even Catholics believe that. Rather, grace saves us through faith, and works come from Faith. If we do not have works, we obviously are lacking in faith.


*I have posed this question over and over again to many different Roman Catholic apologists, none of whom were able to verify the source with certainty. In most cases, one Roman Catholic apologist would claim he obtained the figure from another Roman Catholic apologist. When I would ask the latter Roman Catholic apologist about the figure, it was not uncommon for that apologist to point to the former apologist as his source for the figure, creating a circle with no actual beginning. I have long suspected that, whatever the source might be, the words “denomination” and “Protestant” were being defined in a way that most of us would reject.

I have only recently been able to locate the source of this figure. I say the source because in fact there is only one source that mentions this figure independently. All other secondary sources (to which Roman Catholics sometimes make appeal) ultimately cite the same original source. That source is David A. Barrett’s World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the Modern World A.D. 1900—2000 (ed. David A. Barrett; New York: Oxford University Press, 1982). This work is both comprehensive and painstakingly detailed; and its contents are quite enlightening. However, the reader who turns to this work for validation of the Roman Catholic 25,000-Protestant-denomination argument will be sadly disappointed. What follows is a synopsis of what Barrett’s work in this area really says.

First, Barrett, writing in 1982, does indeed cite a figure of 20,780 denominations in 1980, and projects that there would be as many as 22,190 denominations by 1985. This represents an increase of approximately 270 new denominations each year (Barrett, 17). What the Roman Catholic who cites this figure does not tell us (most likely because he does not know) is that most of these denominations are non-Protestant.

Barrett identifies seven major ecclesiastical “blocs” under which these 22,190 distinct denominations fall (Barrett, 14-15): (1) Roman Catholicism, which accounts for 223 denominations; (2) Protestant, which accounts for 8,196 denominations; (3) Orthodox, which accounts for 580 denominations; (4) Non-White Indigenous, which accounts for 10,956 denominations; (5) Anglican, which accounts for 240 denominations; (6) Marginal Protestant, which includes Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, New Age groups, and all cults (Barrett, 14), and which accounts for 1,490 denominations; and (7) Catholic (Non-Roman), which accounts for 504 denominations.

According to Barrett’s calculations, there are 8,196 denominations within Protestantism—not 25,000 as Roman Catholic apologists so cavalierly and carelessly claim. Barrett is also quick to point out that one cannot simply assume that this number will continue to grow each year; hence, the typical Roman Catholic projection of an annual increase in this number is simply not a given. Yet even this figure is misleading; for it is clear that Barrett defines “distinct denominations” as any group that might have a slightly different emphasis than another group (such as the difference between a Baptist church that emphasizes hymns, and another Baptist church that emphasizes praise music).*

Thanks for your reference. This article is from a pretty Non-Catholic friendly place it looks. I’m not non-Catholic friendly, actually very Catholic Friendly, but I do dislike when people repeat “unsubstantiated indoctrinations”.

I do kind of like this quote though: 1) Roman Catholicism, which accounts for 223 denominations;. Doesn’t really paint as clear a picture of Catholic universality as some might have us believe…

Thanks for looking it up. Most haven’t gone that far in response!

The figures published by Barrett are from either WORLD CHRISTIAN TRENDS or WORLD CHRISTIAN ENCYCLOPEDIA, and are arrived at by a particular method of defining “denominations”, which I occasionally give the details of, but which never makes any impact on how often someone uses some of the 25K/30K/35K/39K totals for protestant “denominations”, not understanding what they mean or how they are derived. This is the same source that counts the RCC as roughly 247+ “denominations”. The clue as to how the totals are arrived at involves the number of countries in the world (hint).

My typical knee-jerk reaction on this subject. I do it on other things too.

Carry on.


I wrote hearsay like “hear” and “say”, though at a quick reading might have been construed as “heresy”. I did not mean heresy, but hearsay. It was not meant to be accusatory or offensive.

Sorry for any confusion or misunderstanding.

A clue is found above.

Here’s a quote for their definition of “denomination”:

“Any agency consisting of a number of congregations or churches voluntarily aligning themselves with it. As a statistical unit in this survey, a ‘denomination’ always refers to one single country. Thus the Roman Catholic Church, although a single organization, is described here as consisting of 236 denominations in the world’s 238 countries.”

These figures were as of roughly 2002. They change regularly.


oh i didn’t take offense to it i have been dealing with some heretics lately and i think its best to just avoid them, so i might of thought you misspelt it.

Then you would make Eastern Orthodox Protestant? I assure you that is far from the truth.

In general Protestants do not utilize natural law enough.

I get tired of hearing about how things like so-called “gay marriage” might be okay or something worth considering because the words “gay marriage” are not attributed to be from Jesus in the Gospel. :rolleyes:

Of course, given how some Catholics make excuses about how they vote and live their lives, they could venture to learn some things as well.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit