RE: How do you know your doctrine is correct?


#1

Here’s a question that has been touched upon in other threads, but I’ve yet to see an answer for it. This is for those of you that reject the teaching authority of the Church. Different Protestant Churches teach different doctrines about salvation. The Church of Christ teaches that one has to be baptised, while Methodist teach that one doesn’t. Southern Baptist teach that one cannot lose their salvation, while Free Will Baptist teach that one can lose salvation. Both cannot be correct. Did God intend to let everyone just guess at how to obtain salvation? The answer, "Listen to the Holy Spirit’ is unacceptable. All of these churches claim to be following the Holy Spirit’s guidance, but they get different results. In the end how do you know that what your church teaches is anymore correct than chruchs that teache different doctrines.


#2

How does anyone know that your doctrine is correct? How do you know that the Catholic Church is the true Church? How do you know that a given doctrinal statement really is the teaching of the Church? There are all sorts of answers to these questions. Adherence to a teaching is not the same thing as adherence to a theory about how you know the teaching is true. (The Methodist theologian William Abraham has made this point in his book Canon and Criterion.) So your question is anything but a knock-down argument. On the contrary, I don’t see it as being very relevant. There are all sorts of reasons why we may believe that a given church’s teaching is correct. The troubling questions for Protestants are: on what basis do we remain loyal to our church when it teaches something we personally disagree with? On what basis do we remain less than fully united with other churches which we believe are part of the Universal Church? How is our identity as Christians affected by the fact that the visible community that commands our loyalty and support makes no claim to be in any sense the Universal Church? Those are the tough questions. Questions of epistemology are interesting, but peripheral (again, see Abraham).

In Christ,

Edwin


#3

posted by Contarini
How does anyone know that your doctrine is correct? How do you know that the Catholic Church is the true Church? How do you know that a given doctrinal statement really is the teaching of the Church?

Catholics know that our doctrine is truth because the Bible and Sacred Tradition tell us the Church will be a pillar and foundation of truth. It tells us the Church will withstand the gates of Hell. It tells us the Holy Spirit will always be with you. Our Church can be traced back historically to when these promises were made. It has not been the true but “hidden” branch of Christians. Through Scripture and Sacred Tradition, we can “show” you that Christians have believed what Catholic Christians teach. There has been new understanding of that which has already been revealed. New words have been added, for example, purgatory and Trinity. Christ did not promise to always have leaders who did not sin and make grevious errors. But he did promise to keep the teachings of the church free from error.

This has been explained on different threads. We know why we believe what we do. It is in the Bible and Sacred Tradition. The question is how does a Protestant decide that a church is teaching error. Just because I don’t agree with it? How do I know that Christ is not trying to admonish me? Catholic know why we believe what we do. You can choose to not believe that we have interpreted Scripture correctly. When we believe that the Holy Spirit will guide us to all truth, that promise is for a Church, Christ’s Body. While He can lead individuals to truth, clearly some people have not been lead to “all truth”. And in turn there are whole denominations following this “truth”. (Oneness Pentecostals for one) So the question remains:

How do you know that what your church teaches is anymore correct than chruches that teach different doctrines? Catholics can explain how we know our church is right. We are asking you to explain how you know yours is correct.

God Bless
Maria


#4

[quote=Contarini]So your question is anything but a knock-down argument.
In Christ,

Edwin
[/quote]

Then why can’t you answer the question?


#5

This is a good question. Primarily the problem arises from an overabundance of PRIDE – in the bad sense of the word. Luther complained about this during the Reformation. He stated the all of the sudden we have as many Popes as there are heads.

Why is this… because some Protestants have the misconception that they can make infallible proclamations and interpretations. This is where the PRIDE factor comes in… too many Protestants are saying that they are “right” instead of the fact that “I could be wrong.”

Protestantism is not based off of the fact that we are all Popes, it is based off of the fact that no-one is a Pope. We as humans are imperfect – things such as PRIDE, Mental Defects, Greed, etc… will cause us to error in our judgment and actions.

Sin will not only make us error in our physical actions but also our beliefs.

We must always be aware of our fallen nature and act accordingly. If I think that I have a novel idea about Christianity I should not proclaim everyone else is wrong and start my own Church. I should express my views before others that are assisted by the Holy Spirit because they are blessed also… I must be willing to admit that I could be wrong just as those people that I bring my new idea to must admit that they could be wrong. Through daily prayer, extensive research, faith, and the utilization of not only my gifts but also the gifts given to others we should come to a suitable but not infallible conclusion.

So how do I know that I am correct? I don’t… I have faith that I am following God as I should but I realize that because of my fallen nature I could be mislead. I should always listen to the other Christians around me for guidance as well as the Holy Spirit within me.

I do not need to have proof of anything, God gives me Faith so that I can believe in the absence of proof.


#6

Welcome to the limits of apologetics. As Catholics, none of us can demonstrate that our doctrines are true in the sense that we can demonstrate gravity or the chemical make up of water. However, we can defend every jot and tittle of our beliefs and make a case that they are perfectly reasonable and argue how the alternatives don’t measure up. After that, faith is required. Of course faith is required for any worldview or philosophy. Even the guy who wants a scientific demonstration of any given thing before he will believe it is operating on faith because he cannot scientifically demonstrate that waiting for a scientific demonstration is good or the way he should live his life.

Scott


#7

The reason I posed this question, is because it was the final question I that I asked myself befor accepting the Catholic Church. I truly do not believe God would have left everyone to fend for themselves in trying to interpret scripture. I think the Arians probably really believed they were correct. Just because we have great faith in something doesn’t mean it’s correct. If what a church is teaching is incorrect, they could be condemning people to hell. I don’t think God would have left us in that position. I came to that conclusion once I began reading the New Testament not through Southen Baptist eyes, but through the eyes of one really seeking the truth. The office the apostles held became so clear to me at that point. Once I accepted the authorith of the Church, everything else fell into place.


#8

:Catholics know that our doctrine is truth because the Bible and Sacred Tradition tell us the Church will be a pillar and foundation of truth.:

They tell us that too. But why do you believe the Bible or Sacred Tradition?

: It tells us the Church will withstand the gates of Hell.:

But the interpretation that links that promise to a doctrine of infallibility is not certain–many people don’t find it convincing. How do you know that that interpretation is correct? Either you are exercising private judgment, or you believe it because the Church tells you it’s correct. But in that case you’re caught in a circle. You believe the Church because of Jesus’ promise, but you believe that particular interpretation of the promise because the Church tells you to. That’s one of the most elementary kinds of logical mistakes.

I know that Catholic Answers have an ingenious way of trying to get around this, by arguing that first you establish the historicity of the Gospels on purely rational grounds, then you believe Jesus’ promise because it’s found in the Gospels, and then you believe the Church because of Jesus’ promise. But it doesn’t hold water for a second. A large number of Biblical scholars would say that Jesus’ promise in Matt. 16 is not an accurate record of something Jesus actually said. You can’t rule them out as heretics, because at this point you’re allegedly proceeding on purely historical grounds. Furthermore, you’ve put yourself in a position where you are demanding absolute certainty, not just probability. How can you be absolutely certain that this large body of learned people are wrong (without bringing in faith or the authority of the Church)? I don’t see how you can. Not to mention the question of interpretation of Matt. 16, which I mentioned earlier.

(Intriguingly, the Catholic Answers argument is actually a modified version of the argument made by the Presbyterian theologian B. B. Warfield.)

: It tells us the Holy Spirit will always be with you. Our Church can be traced back historically to when these promises were made.:

So can ours. We think we are part of the same Church you are, you know!

:Through Scripture and Sacred Tradition, we can “show” you that Christians have believed what Catholic Christians teach.:

No, you can’t. Not with absolute certainty.

:There has been new understanding of that which has already been revealed.:

Exactly. And you can’t prove, with absolute certainty, that purgatory and transubstantiation are legitimate developments while sola fide and sola scriptura aren’t.

: New words have been added, for example, purgatory and Trinity.:

You’re begging the question by assuming that these are just “new words” but not new ideas. How can you prove that with absolute certainty (and remember that you can’t appeal to the authority of the Church because you are claiming that historical development proves that the “RCC” is the authentic heir of the apostolic Church).

:The question is how does a Protestant decide that a church is teaching error. Just because I don’t agree with it? How do I know that Christ is not trying to admonish me?:

There is no one easy method. I’m not disputing that it’s relatively easier for Catholics. But not as much as you like to claim. For instance, you probably believe that the Papal encyclicals Humanae Vitae and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis contain binding, infallible teaching. Yet many of your fellow-Catholics disagree with you. How can you prove that they are wrong? You can make an argument, but it’s not an absolute proof. They claim to be faithful Catholics too. They claim to be faithful to the binding, infallible teaching of the Church. They just don’t think these two teachings fall under that category. In that sense you’re in the same boat we are. Lots of Protestants think that they have a knock-down proof for or against their pet doctrine regarding eternal security or predestination or infant baptism.


#9

:How do you know that what your church teaches is anymore correct than chruches that teach different doctrines? Catholics can explain how we know our church is right. We are asking you to explain how you know yours is correct.:

First, you need to explain why we need to have a one-size-fits-all method for determining this. Then, you need to demonstrate, in the face of the abundant evidence to the contrary, that this method actually works.

You have one major difference with us in this respect, and this alone is a good reason for us to join you. Catholics disagree about what “the Church teaches” just as Protestants do (not as much, granted–but you do disagree quite a bit), but they agree that “the Church” is to be found in its fullness within the bonds of communion with Rome. Protestants, on the other hand, identify “the Church” as the community that teaches true doctrine, so that doctrinal divisions lead much more quickly to a breaking of the bonds of fellowship.

Of course, the question is whether this kind of visible, institutional unity is important. I think it is. Whether it’s as important as you guys claim is something I’m struggling with. But one thing is clear to me. Your claim to perfect certainty about what "the Church’ teaches is a pipedream. If it were as clear as all that, there would not be so many pious and learned Catholics who hold very different views from you (again, women’s ordination is a good example). When you conservative Catholics say that such “liberal dissenters” should leave the Church, you’re giving up your one real advantage over us. You’re trying to establish one monolithic definition of what “the Church” teaches and purge out everyone who disagrees. If you succeed in doing this, it will be far less clear that you really are the Catholic Church and not just another sect.

In Christ,

Edwin


#10

[font=Arial]They tell us that too. But why do you believe the Bible or Sacred Tradition?

[/font]

For me, I am coming from a fundmental backgroud. Either you believe the Bible 100% cover to cover or we have nothing else to talk about. For me personally, it is a matter of faith. A faith that I now can have more confidence in due to the promises of Christ to Her church.

So can ours. We think we are part of the same Church you are, you know!

The problem is, your church differs on its teachings of the Catholic Church. There are many promises in the Bible about the Church teaching truth. Clearly, there can only be one truth. I prefer to believe the Church that has been around since Christ walked and talked to His followers here on earth.

Jn 14:26 tells us that the Holy Spirit will remind them of everything

1Tim 3:15 says that the church is called a pillar and foundation of truth

Rom 16:17 tells us to avoid those who cause dissensions

Col 1:18 tells us the Christ is the head of the body, the church

**1Tim 3:1 **tells us about the qualification for bishops , priests and deacons. Clearly a structure was being set.

2 Tess 2:15 tells us to hold fast to traditions, whether oral or by word

When all of these verses are taken together (plus many, many more verses) that there was meant to be an authoritative church, one church, a church that teaches truth, a church that has oral teachings, and the Holy Spirit will guide that church.

The Holy Spirit clearly cannot be guiding ALL the teachings of all the different Protestant denominations. For me in my church, a big problem came when realizing nowhere in the Bible does it tell us it has all been written down now, only follow Scripture. The Catholic Church is the only Church that proudly claims that oral tradition and places it equal to written Scripture as the Bible tells us to.

Basically, it all comes down to authority. Either you believe Christ set up His church to have authority over the followers as seen in Peter inflicting punishment on those who claimed to wish to follow Christ (Acts 5:1-11) and that authority was meant to continue as when they picked new people to take over positions (Acts 1:20) and the church will be perpetual (Mt 16:18) and the church will teach all truth (1 Tim 3:15) and the church will teach all of Christ words whether oral or written (2 Thess 2:15) and His word will never be lost (Mk 13:31) and that the church is Christ (Col 1:18) and the church must be one (Jn 10:16).

But it starts with recognizing that an authoritative church was what Christ instituted. To rebel against the church is to rebel against Christ(Col 1:18). And you have to admit that the “Reformation” from a Catholic perspective is a rebellion, not a reformation.

I think the failing of the reformation was the failure to realize that Christ did not promise that those who were in power in the church would never fail, but the truth, the faith and morals of the teachings of Christ would never fail as Scripture promises.

Your sister in Christ,
Maria


#11

When I learned that my theology (Baptist mostly) was wrong I was upset and began a search for the truth. When I found the truth it was in the last place I looked and the last place I thought it would be. The search for the truth at any price lead me to the Catholic Church.

Now I “see” the truth, have had the “scales” lifted from my eyes and am a proud member Christs body, His Catholic Church.:love:


#12

When I learned that my theology (Baptist mostly) was wrong I was upset and began a search for the truth. When I found the truth it was in the last place I looked and the last place I thought it would be. The search for the truth at any price lead me to the Catholic Church.

Now I “see” the truth, have had the “scales” lifted from my eyes and am a proud member Christs body, His Catholic Church.:love:

:amen:


#13

[quote=Malachi4U]When I learned that my theology (Baptist mostly) was wrong I was upset and began a search for the truth. When I found the truth it was in the last place I looked and the last place I thought it would be. The search for the truth at any price lead me to the Catholic Church.

Now I “see” the truth, have had the “scales” lifted from my eyes and am a proud member Christs body, His Catholic Church.:love:
[/quote]

Are you talking about denominational truth ?

Or are you talking about God’s Truth ?

What is the Truth? (Ask Pontius Pilate)

Let me tell you The Truth : That Jesus died for our sins.

It is a matter whether you believe this or not.

If you believe that God is Faithful, and that He died for you on the cross, then let it happened according to your faith! Let Him free you from the clutches of your sins. On the contrary, if you insist on your own truth or denominational truth then let this denomination save you, especially let your own works work your salvation out.

“Baptist” ? Wow, it’s amazing how these people are so “informed” about all kinds of denominational differences.

Jesus prays this way :

John 17:23
I in them and You in Me, that THEY may be PERFECTED IN UNITY, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

In John 17 Jesus pray for unity, and He mentioned the word ONE many times, and always followed by “so that the world may KNOW that You sent Me”.

Have you ever wonder that God is actually a very big MYSTERY?
That our salvation is also MYSTERY? Then why argue who’s the most correct or most incorrect? It seems to me that Catholic’s doctrine about Justification and Luther’s Justification is only SEMANTIC! Since no one really capable of describing God perfectly…

But one thing for sure that if we insist on “division” then we are not “perfected” in love.

How do you know if the doctrine is correct? If it is FAITHFUL to God’s Promise. If it really contains Jesus’s GOOD NEWS. None other than this.

May God bless us all.


#14

This question is very interesting. Like it has been said, the holy spirit can not be revealing two different things to two different groups. This is quite simple to put in perspective. This very question is why we have the papacy. Christ knew that there would be divisions. Why else would he pray that they all might be one. My goodness, Jesus’ welcome home party in heaven was barely started and there were already divisions. This is why he knew he would have to leave some one in charge. When you think that two or more on this earth can not agree about anything, its easy to see the neccesity of the papacy. We know our doctrine is correct through the infallible teaching of the pope and magesterium of the church.


#15

[quote=joshua1]This question is very interesting. Like it has been said, the holy spirit can not be revealing two different things to two different groups. This is quite simple to put in perspective. This very question is why we have the papacy. Christ knew that there would be divisions. Why else would he pray that they all might be one. My goodness, Jesus’ welcome home party in heaven was barely started and there were already divisions. This is why he knew he would have to leave some one in charge. When you think that two or more on this earth can not agree about anything, its easy to see the neccesity of the papacy. We know our doctrine is correct through the infallible teaching of the pope and magesterium of the church.
[/quote]

How do you know that the Pope and the magesterium are correct and lets say the Mormans are not?


#16

[quote=joshua1]We know our doctrine is correct through the infallible teaching of the pope and magesterium of the church.
[/quote]

This is what I’ve been wondering: is the decision to abide by the Magisterium and the Papacy not ultimately one of personal faith and intellect, in the same way that a Baptist decides to abide by ‘sola Scriptura’? You choose to be Catholic because you believe that the Catholic Church safeguards Christian truths in their fullest. In the same way, one can be Methodist because he believes that the Methodist church contains the fullness of truth, or one can be Muslim because he believes that Islam is the “true” faith.

I often hear Catholics say that the reason for division among Protestants today is that they all claim to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and develop varying interpretations of Scripture and Christianity. Is the decision to become or remain Catholic not also the result of listening to the Holy Spirit and deciding that one particular interpretation of Christianity is correct? If I make a decision to convert or remain Protestant, it will be one based on extensive prayer and my own intellect. I don’t follow the teachings of the Catholic Church unless *I *believe that it is the “true” Church, but who’s to say that I’m right or wrong? Because of the inevitable uncertainity inherent in any denomination or faith, we must simply trust that God, in His loving omniscience, will lead us to where we need to be.

In Christ,

Chris


#17

originally posted by francisca

Let me tell you The Truth : That Jesus died for our sins.

It is a matter whether you believe this or not.

Catholics believe Jesus died for our sins. You are actually not telling us some great truth that we have no knowledge of.

Catholics are Christians that believe the only way we are going to heaven is through the grace of God and the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We do not use the same words that you will. There are misunderstandings frequently. You remind me somewhat of myself. When I knew Christ wanted me to go back to the Catholic Church, I thought it was because I was going to help Catholics become “truly saved”. Guess what? I found a church full of people with a closer walk with Christ than I had.

I also found those who didn’t know Christ but came to Church anyway. That is one of the differences between Catholics and Protestants. In my experience the people who are at a Protestant church come because they are seeking and are serious about knowing God. You have to go out and find the lost sheep and bring them to Church. In the Catholic church, we already have lost sheep who come to church because they are “supposed to”. Cultural Catholics.

But just because you see people in the Catholic church who still don’t “get it”, it is foolish and insulting for you to assume all Catholics are like that, especially here on this board.

Your Sister in Christ,
Maria


#18

Psalm 118:8 “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” “Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols” -Psalm 97:7
"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God…" -Exodus 20:4,5:bowdown2:


#19

Mat 14 And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever.

Matthew 23:8-11, "But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

1st Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

“But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.” -Matthew 23:5-7


#20

Hi,

Guess what? Here in these forums, Catholics do in fact know and understand scripture. If you have a specific INTERPRETATION of scripture you wish to discuss, you need to do more than just list your scripture. Please give your interpretation of scripture along with the specific Catholic Doctrine you seem to think it contradicts.

God bless,
Maria


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