The diversity of scripture, magisterium, and tradition


One of the common arguments againt Protestantism is that Protestants who adhere to Sola Scriptura are not in unity.
One difficulty with this is the groups who appeal to the three items listed in the title also disagree with one another.
However, perhaps they would counter that they agree a lot more than they disagree.
That however does not discount the point that they do disagree. If the argument against Sola Scriptura (which I am not obviously), is that one is left in an unworkable quandry as to who is right, why is that not also the case with groups that claim to be the original church?


The arguement against protestantism would more accurately be that the official teachings of the various protestant groups are at odds with each other, yet each claims to be getting their teachings from Scripture alone.

The official teaching of the Catholic Church (the one that claims to be the original) is consistant and united. Simply because some people who are Catholic either don’t know, don’t understand or choose to not follow some parts of Catholic teaching does in no way put the Church in the same catagory as the various protestant groups.


Those are not the groups I am referring to.
Old Catholic
so forth


So the Roman Catholic position could be said that “our church is united on its official teachings”. Perhaps, a reasonable way to rephrase that is to say that the RCC has a single authority by which one can gauge how in-line they are with God. Anyone who disagrees with this authority is obviously wrong.

Roman Catholics are united in that they have a single authority they all believe to be right.

Now, let’s consider Protestantism. As I don’t want to stereotype, I’ll just say that I’m speaking of most of the Protestants I’ve known in my life. We all agree that Jesus is our authority, that he is the head teacher. Now, we don’t all agree with each other on things, but we do agree in the same authority. So, clearly, when we disagree, there’s someone who doesn’t understand what Jesus wants.

Now, how is that any different from Roman Catholicism, aside from the fact that your authority is on earth, and mine isn’t?


I have yet to encounter any conflicting doctrines made by the title trio. :shrug:


That is exactly why Protestants have branched out into so many thousands of different denominations. They have no unifying authority to turn to. Sure, we are all unified under Christ, but what I am talking about is the day-to-day decision making needed as situations arise. What has happened since the time of Luther has been more and more breaking away. Members of the XXXXX Church didn’t agree with something so they simply started their own Church. Then members in that Church found themselves at odds with ZZZZ teaching so they started their own Church. etc., etc. This is NOT how Christ intended it to be. He founded one Church. He gave authority to that Church to forgive sins, bind and loose, teach, interrupt, etc. So, while our Church is “on earth” the authority given to that Church comes from God.


In your interpretation. However, your interpretation of all those doctrines and such is not in agreement with the interpretation of every other Roman Catholic on those statements, doctrines, etc. Sure, you all share the belief that your authority doesn’t contradict itself, but Protestants all have that in common as well – we believe Jesus doesn’t contradict himself – we just don’t all agree on what Jesus means and wants with some things.

No earthly authority – true. But still, if you look at the inter-denominational fellowship and the common beliefs held by most of those groups, there’s nowhere near so much disunity as it appears. And let’s not forget that there have been splits within Roman Catholicism too. The Anglicans, Lutherans, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and many others were all grouped together with the RCC as “The Apostolic Church” at one time. Apparently these large split-off groups didn’t recognize a single earthly authority in the church at that time. It’s amazing that so many could miss something so important, and something supposedly so obvious, isn’t it?

Sure, we are all unified under Christ, but what I am talking about is the day-to-day decision making needed as situations arise.

Which is why we’re given the holy spirit.


Perhaps you could identify one of the Catholic Church’s defined teachings that contradicts a prior teaching.


Which proves my point entirely. You CLAIM that the Protestant Churches have the Holy Spirit, BUT that can’t be true. For example, some (you know what Churches I’m talking about) Protestant Churches elect and support homosexual bishops and clergy. Other Protestant Churches don’t support that. Some denominations baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as the Bible says to do, some Baptize only in the name of Jesus. Some claim that you cannot lose your salvation; others claim that you can. ALL OF THEM claim to be led by the Holy Spirit! When individual Protestants interrupt the Scriptures, they claim that the Holy Spirit helps them in the interpretations. Yet, these individual interpretations often don’t agree with one another. How can that be if the ONE Holy Spirit is assisting? Protestant Church “A” claims to be Spirit led… Protestant Church “B” claims to be Spirit led… (keep doing this thousands of times more). Yet, if that were truly the case, there would only be ONE Church. The Holy Spirit isn’t schizophrenic; he doesn’t have multiple personalities, nor is He playing some cosmic joke on humanity.


Then why so many thousands of denominations? Why are there continuing to be splits amoung today’s denominations (the latest and most talked about being the Episcopalian Churches here in America). Obviously, there are real fundimental differences in core beliefs.

Yes it is. It’s sad too; because, since then they have continued to spin-off. God alone knows what the beliefs of Protestant Churches will be in another 500 years. Did you know that in the early 20th century all Protestant Churches in America were in agreement with the Catholic Church on the issues of abortion AND contraception?!?!? Now, I know of no Protestant Church that opposes artificial contraception (there may still be a few but I haven’t encountered them). AND there are Protestant Churches out there that remain silent about abortion and may even find it “unsinful.” Last century, I know of no Protestant Churches that ordained openly homosexual clergy. Now there are several denominations out there that are doing this and many more that actually support homosexual unions. Throughout all this, the Catholic Church remains the same. Five hundred years (a short amount of time in the Church’s history) from now, it will continue to stand by the same dogmas that it does today.


Brian, I hope that you aren’t DELIBERATELY being intellectually dishonest with your above view, because it is a distortion of what I think you’re trying to say.

The Sola Scripture disagreements regards a sole, singular, aspect; Scripture. That is, the Protestants disagree about what Scripture means or says!

‘Catholic’ disagreements regards three, thrice, aspects; Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium. Therefore, you would expect threefold the amount of arguments. But this is not the case.

In practice, regarding Protestantism, you take any passage of Scriptures, or any book or chapter of Scriptures, and you will have your score of disagreements over it. When this is pointed out, the phrase that ‘Jesus is the Sole Judge!’ or ‘The Holy Spirit will not lead anyone astray!’ are cited as some sort of ‘prooftext’ for whatever view is being discussed, inspite the multitude of variances in theological thought! This circular strain of argumentation is quite common because if Scriptures were a signpost you were looking at, you could circle it in any direction and it would still be a single ‘signpost.’

Catholic practice is not reliant on such circular thought or statements. It has 3-signposts! (Scriptures, Tradition, Magisterium) To fully understand The Church, you must have a good knowledge of all three. When discussing Scriptures, we already know that the two signposts of Tradition and the Magisterium stand behind the signpost of Scriptures, so that all we ‘see’ during the discussion is the single ‘signpost’ of Scriptures. The minute anyone presents a view that ‘moves us’ too far to any side, the signpost of Magisterium, or Tradition, or both, are ‘exposed’ and we can say, “Hold on! Tradition says this, or the Magisterium says this.”

Similarly, in discussions regarding Tradition, we simply allign Scriptures and the Magisterium ‘behind it’ so that we only see one signpost at any one time, as it were.

Again, the same reallignment when the subject is the Magisterium. (Scriptures and Tradition fall in line behind, etc.)

In this way, as you find on this forum, you see the multitude of Catholics the world over, making refutations or presenting arguments, and they all sound ‘the same!’ It is also why, and how, you sometimes see on this forum, where other Catholics point out specific differences when some Catholics ‘move the view’ too much, one way or the other, that “exposes” the signposts behind the subject of discussion. In this way, we remain ‘the same.’

There is no disagreement, per se. Simply, one may not have been mindful of either or both of the rear signposts, and when pointed out, the point is normally, if not always, conceded.

You will note that “The Church” or “Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit” are not mentioned! (A favourite of Protestants to point out, at times.) This is because to Catholics, it is ALWAYS an accepted fact, that all such discussions are under the premise of Christ and His Church. NOT instead of it!



That does not answer my question. Not even once, I have said I am referrring to the groups which all appeal to these three. EO, RC, OO, and others. How about answering the question instead of a speal about Sola Scriptura which obviously I do not adhere to.


Then why do all of these groups not agree?


I don’t wish to go through another exercise of you guys jumping through hoops to make it fit. Sorry.

Besides, I never even got a specific list of which teachings were infallible, and which weren’t. Some said everything the RCC teaches is infallible. Others said only the two Marian dogmas are infallible. Others mentioned the Nicene creed, and still others presented several different lists of things they believe are infallible.

You start with the premise that the RCC can’t contradict itself, and then look for explanations to fit that. As long as that’s the case, it seems a useless endeavor to pursue.

No – I claim that the Holy Spirit is there to lead each individual believer in Christ (Protestant, Roman Catholic, East Orthodox, or whatever) into the fullness of truth IF we are willing to listen to what it’s saying.

Many claim to do this, both in Protestant and Roman Catholic circles alike, but I believe few truly are open enough to hear in everything. We become attached to our own beliefs, and leave God out of the picture. It’s something I constantly struggle with – making sure that I’m listening to him, rather than listening to me.

I do not believe that any single denomination possesses the “fullness of truth” (as you like to say) – the Holy Spirit works in each individual leader, yes, but does not protect the entire leadership of a denomination. Christ never said it would work like that. Thus, some fall into error. Actually, as none of us are perfect, it’s better to say that we all fall into error on some part of our beliefs. That’s okay though, because God’s there to pick up the pieces if we’re willing to let him.

The Holy Spirit isn’t schizophrenic; he doesn’t have multiple personalities, nor is He playing some cosmic joke on humanity.

Agreed – however, all you’ve demonstrated is a point I’ve repeatedly conceded. There is absolute truth on any issue you can raise, and not everyone has it (not even everyone who claims [as opposed to actually has] the guidance of the Holy Spirit).

I would say it’s so amazing as to be unbelievable. Now, if you’d like to substantiate that, it’s fine, but umm, I think that’s going off-topic.

The original point seems to have been – Roman Catholics claim Protestants aren’t united on scriptural interpretation, thus invalidating Sola Scriptura? If that’s so, however, and the trio of scripture, tradition, and magisterium are sufficient, why don’t all Roman Catholics agree on all traditions and teachings?

I’d really like to see an honest answer to this.

No, I wouldn’t expect that. If indeed the three elements are sufficient for attaining unity (where Sola Scriptura is supposedly not), why isn’t there unity? Can you show me an interpretation of Roman Catholic teaching that isn’t disputed by any Roman Catholic? Of course not.

There is no disagreement, per se. Simply, one may not have been mindful of either or both of the rear signposts, and when pointed out, the point is normally, if not always, conceded.

You say this, but my experience here and elsewhere speaks volumes against it.


No – I claim that the Holy Spirit is there to lead each individual believer in Christ (Protestant, Roman Catholic, East Orthodox, or whatever) into the fullness of truth IF we are willing to listen to what it’s saying.

This is an interesting reply, but doesn’t it leave certain moral issues hanging? Was the Holy Spirit leading all the Protestant churches to believe contraception was wrong before the 1930’s and then morally neutral after then? Does the Holy Spirit change his mind? Or morality change with time passing?

Why can’t the majority of Protestants come to an agreement on homosexual issues, abortion, and the question of divorce and remarriage?

What is your interpretation of these issues?

God bless, Anne


I had hoped to set the background for you to do your own thinking and implicit application.

From the analogy of the ‘3-signposts’ you can then work out where the perspectives differ and why. Also, there are differences in your ref. groups that are not about Scriptures, Tradition and Magisterium, but about ONE aspect of these three.

For instance, EO holds that the ‘Papacy’ is Scriptural, but the continuance of that lineage is not. That means the basic point is about Scriptures In this argument, the Magisterium can be forsaken or ignored as a “solely/purely RC viewpoint” that is bias to the RC stance. But the answer to this issue is borne forth through Tradition which shows The Church held to ‘Papal’ authority right from the very beginning. Scriptures supports Tradition on this issue, and the Magisterium seals it for Catholics, even though the ‘separated brethren’ MAY not accord it any regard.

Other ‘differences’ you may possess, you will understand, stem from that view of Papal authority, for without it, certain freedoms are exercised regarding Marian dogmas, contraception, etc etc.



Ol Harry Truman had a saying on his desk,“The Buck Stops Here!” in the Roman Catholic Church and those in union under the Catholic Umbrella in more than name only, the buck stops with the Pope. All those others have the buck stopping with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. That is really a good thing because than everyone can do his own thing and justify it. It leaves me with the puzzlement as to why they seem to give different answers to different people/leaders on the same question. Maybe you’re pulling my leg.:confused:


I am sure that you are aware that many Orthodox, both OO and E O and of course Protestants do not share your view of Papal authority from the beginning.


These are hardly points of contention! If anything, it re-inforces the point of unity! We are all free thinkers and Catholics, specifically, can come up with some huge humberdingers!

The answers though exist outside all of us, Catholics and non-Catholics. Scriptures is there. Tradition is there. Magisterium is there. Most Catholics, including me, do not know all of which are the infallible teachings, and which are not, because it never used to matter to us. (This is the beauty of enjoying a complete faith)
It has become an issue only in ‘recent’ decades with the advent of the internet and information becomes readily accessible. More and more Catholics are finding out and hearing external views that what we have always practiced, held to from Our Lord are seen so differently by others, including the views that the Catholic Church is outright WRONG!

So we happily say, “Reeeeaaaalllly! Well let’s see what Scriptures ACTUALLY says! Let’s find some corroboration for that through Tradition. What we have been ‘living’ (the Magisterium) speaks as one as the 'Other Two!”

The variances of views amongst Catholics, is because we are free thinkers, in spite what some think! The point is, between any two dissenting views in Catholicism, the matter is already settled if The Church speaks on it! PERIOD.

If not, then it is free game, like any other thinkers, except we are mindful of what Scriptures, Tradition & Magisterium (The Church) professes.

PC, NO thought can be without God. But given our freedom, there must be some way to check and double check without Him having to present Himself to you everytime you think!

Who do you think gave us The Church? ( Scriptures, Magisterium, Tradition)

Then we are at odds already. Either Jesus Christ is keeping His promise, or He isn’t.

We are all free to think! We can work things out for ourselves, whether Catholic or not. Discussions and disagreement in Catholicism DO NOT LEAD to leaving and starting other denominations! Sure, many can leave and continue the search elsewhere and then return. They always return, because The TRUTH is here! (Yeah I said it!)

Being Catholic demands your intellect PC. Not become ‘mindless’ as you seem to infer. Thinking leads to discussion, dissention, debates, heated arguments even. Under the right premise this does not lead to ‘denominational hopscotch.’

TRUTH exists outside us as individuals. We can disagree with The Church and leave, but She cannot change ‘Her mind’ just to please us, to make us stay! She just sticks to The Truth of Her Founder!



Official teachings, Brian! Official teachings. (Which negates Protestants) Not our views.


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