taking Protestant theology seriously


In the past I have always cringed upon hearing Catholics refer to what Calvinists think, or what Pentecostals think. I always have felt that those Catholics were playing at bending over backwards, and that there is no special reason why we should be interested in the theology of those who have decided that there are only two sacraments, and so forth. What do you think? Should we take Protestant theology seriously?

  1. Catholics should take Protestant theology seriously, to help Protestants.
  2. Catholics should take Protestant theology seriously, in case we’re missing something.
  3. Catholics can safely ignore Protestant theology.

I am interested in Protestant answers too please.


Boy, I don’t know how to answer this. I have nothing personally against protestant theology, but I want to spend most of my time learning Catholic theology, since I am a Catholic. On the other hand, I think there are some wonderful protestant theologians out there, and I sure don’t want to ignore them ( C.S. Lewis comes to mind, but I’m sure that there are many others, too). I can’t imagine where my faith would be right now without him.


If you are a Catholic, then how could you take Protestant theology seriously?

Not to be offensive to any protestants, but the way I see it is like this. Imagine you’re watching Swan Lake, and in the fourth act, some guy named Frederick Barnes gets up out the of the audience, stops the show, kicks out all the original actors, and creates an alternate ending involving space monsters and a mechanical Prince Sigfried set to “The Final Countdown” by Europe.

So yeah, that’s how I see it. You’re just thinking- ‘huh?’. I was raised Protestant but then when I started looking at things seriously, I was really confused how they could change the course of something that had been around for quite awhile and turn it into something nearly completely different.


I think we should take it seriously, not because it is right, but so that we can better explain the truth (and the real facts) to our separated brothers and sisters in Christ.




There is no good reason for Catholics to study Protestant theology. Truth explains truth. There is almost never any good reason to make reference to an error, in order to teach the Truth.

My experience is that it just muddies the waters and confuses people even more, since most people only hear about 10% of what you tell them, and they almost always latch on to the error, instead of focusing on the truth.


Studying Protestant theology led me to the Catholic Church. Studying the beliefs of people who disagree with you is an important part of understanding why your beliefs are true.


originally posted by jmcrae
There is no good reason for Catholics to study Protestant theology.



:slight_smile: I like protestant theology, it kept me out of hell, which is more than likely where I would have went if I had not married a serious Methodist, before I returned to my Catholic Faith.
I was going to run away to Arizona, no insult to them. Dessert


Here’s a related question: How should we feel about Catholics who like to be familiar with Protestant theology? In a way that’s an even more pressing problem. I have to get along well with my fellow Catholics, and I always cringe inwardly when they happily chirp about Calvinist this or Lutheran that… It isn’t that I assume that they agree with the Protestant theology, but they’re so chirpy that I cannot be sure that they really appreciate the need to embrace Catholic theology. I worry that they may be blending theologies simply because they feel that it would be a nifty thing to do. I don’t necessarily trust their ability to tell what is true and what is misleading.

I think the best reason not to study Protestant theology, at least at first and for a long time, is that one may not be prepared to spot the problems. When bank personnel are prepared to spot forgeries, they attend a ten-day course. For the first nine days, they spend all day, each day, counting legitimate notes. On the last day, false notes are slipped into the stacks. Only late in the course, in other words, are problem notes given as examples.

But, as long as one can keep oneself straight, chirpy fellow Catholics aside, it is important to be familiar with where different branches of Protestantism err. Even more than that, however, we must recall that individual Protestants probably don’t know their own theology all that well, and will tend to fall not so much to the peculiar errors of their sect, but to the more general problems of relativism, modernism, not believing in palpable guiding authority, etc.


I think education on both sides fo the aisle is necessary. I have enjoyed Catholic Answers Live because it has quelled a lot of misconceptions I had concerning Catholic belief…especially concerning the Eucharist, praying to the Saints, Mariology and apostolic succession.

Catholics who would like to make “points” with Protestants should not beleive everything they hear or read about Protestants…some Protestants are very very close to Catholic belief…you share much with “high church” Protestants…but other Protestants are very “low church” and have no concept of “liturgy”.

You get more “flies” with honey than you do with “vinegar”…instead of reinforcing stereotypes Protestants have with Catholics…educating yourselfs and finding the right words to use to share your faith might be worth while.


I disagree that it is useless for a Catholic to be knowledgable of Protestant theology. Know your enemy and know yourself. Not that I consider Protestants my enemies by any stretch of the imagination, but I do consider protestant theology contrary to the directive of Christ. I have used knowledge of Protestant theology to help a couple people flirting with Protestantism to return home to the one Holy and Catholic apostolic church. It led August home to us! :thumbsup:


I disagree that it is useless for a Catholic to be knowledgable of Protestant theology too.:slight_smile:


I believe that it is much more useful for a Catholic to know Catholic theology extremely well, so that no matter what errors come up, you would immediately recognize the error as an error even if you’ve never seen it before, rather than memorize how many (60,000, they say?) different kinds of false theology, just in case you might get into a debate with someone who believes in one of them.

There are some basics to know - for example, a “family tree” of Protestantism that shows the start dates, founders, and main beliefs of the main forms of Protestantism comes in handy from time to time - but beyond that, I don’t see how knowing Protestant theology could be useful for anything that a Catholic would ever need to do.


We may just get an insight in our own beliefs it’s been said, God works in mysterious ways.

Peace, OneNow1


The “60,000” forms of theology is something that you may want to really do some research on…it is claims like this that cause most Protestants to make the stereotypical comments they make about Catholics…if a Catholic makes statements like this…it hurts your cause…


There are as many Catholic folks bigoted about Protestantism as there are Protestants bigoted about Catholicism. Neither speaks well of the Church.

Ghandi was right: there is much to like about Christ, but there is much to lament over those who call themselves Christians.


Dear O: I am glad you are here, helping us to understand Protestantism. However, you are often repeating the same idea: viz., that there is bigotry on both sides. Can you try to be more specific about what we should think, rather than just arguing that we are bigoted? I really am trying to understand how to think about this, so specific information is gratefully accepted. Thank you. :slight_smile:


I think what jmcrae meant is that there are tens of thousands of ecclesial organs among Protestants. The vast majority of these are Baptist churches.

I doubt whether there are really 60000 variants of Protestant theology.

But what would you say about his (her?) second comment, that knowing a basic tree of people and ideas would be the way to go? True enough?

I do hope that you’ll have a good experience here on CAF. I’d like it if some Protestants would hang around and help us understand the ecumenical question. Thanks. :thumbsup:


When I was a kid, one day I got an access to this room at my parish. It was like a library for priests. A very thick book on a desk having an image of Buddhist on.

So, you know that even priests read about other religions too. :wink:

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