The infallibility of Protestants

Hi everyone, I recently returned to the church after a 20 year absence. I was a Catholic in name only and actually attended Assemblies of God and Calvary Chapels. Read many books by protestant apologists such as as Hank Hannegraff. I loved attending these churches because they seemed alive and vibrant while the Catholic Church seemed dead. I increasing became staunchly anti Marian doctrines, confession, child hood baptism, the priesthood and the prayer to saints.

My return to the faith of my youth was due to the keystone cops like theology of evangelicals. I was horrified by the heresies of the Crouches, Benny Hinn, and the other faith teachers but I found that they supported their theology through biblical means. Even respected pastors differed on many things. I attended a diverse group of churches. Rick Warren’s Church, Chuck Smith’s church and others. Each had its own interpretation of theology. For example, Warren does not like to preach on the second coming. Chuck Smith does. It was baffling. Out of desperation it led me to research the early church fathers and what they believed. My mouth dropped when I found that the early church worshiped like Catholics, believed like catholics and in fact were Catholic.
It occurred to me that while Protestants decry the infallibility of the Pope. They themselves have bestowed upon themselves infallibility when interpreting the Scriptures. This had led them to the mess that they are in now. Without the blessing of Apostolic tradition, they are doomed to unending heresies due to their pride.

Welcome home!

Keystone cops. I’m totally using that…

I can’t think of any person more falliable (fallable?) than me. :slight_smile:

I can assure you that the continued use of “They” and “Them” when referring to other Christians (whether believed to be in error or not) will not lead to anything fruitful.

I, on the other hand, will attempt to staunch the flow of my unending heresies asap. :eek:

:extrahappy: Welcome back home!!! :extrahappy:

true calgar…I will refrain from writing that way…

You know another thing that opened my eyes so to speak? Hank Haanegraff in his defense against the faith movement often used the phrase the historic tenets of the orthodox christian faith. Those historic tenets were basically the Nicene creed…

He relied on holy tradition without realizing it.

Welcome home! I too was away for almost 30 years…

During your time away, did you still continue to say The Our Father and our Hail Mary prayers? I, myself never quit saying them. I don’t think I knew it at the time, but they were my catholic reminder…I never let them go…

Why do you use the word infallible? I think there is a difference in infallibility and believing you are right. I believe I am right in everything I believe else I would believe otherwise. I have a strong sense of certainty about what I believe because I am thoughtful and educated (formally but I mean I have taken it upon myself to study many things). The older I get the more I realize I dont know. There are many things about which I was certain that I still believe strongly in but not with the brash certainty of a young man.

You might be right about unending heresies. I’m considering that myself. But the pride you mention is in infallibility not belief in the truth. ‘What if you are wrong’ is a question we all should ask. The fundamental problem I see in Protestantism is who is the authority? Is it reasonable to believe that the authority is limited to your pastor or local church or in the case of mainline denominations just your denomination? The lack of authority in the Protestant church seems to me to allow people to easily go astray.

I like much about Hank Haanegraff. I also like Greg Koukl and William Lane Craig. All of these men are thoughtful, intelligent people who rely on tradition. I think you are selling them short to say they dont know they rely on tradition. I would be interested in knowing how, when and why they see things going astray because I think that is what they must believe happened since they appeal to tradition.

I married a catholic woman, in a catholic church, while I still called myself catholic, I did not believe much of catholic theology. I would say the our father at mass, I would skip any line in any prayer that mentioned Mary.

I would just show up and sometimes complain to my wife how dead the catholic service was. Then after mass (if we went, a lot of times I convinced my wife not to go), I would go to calvary or any of the other churches I tried. If I did not go to church I would stream the service over the internet.

One of the things I enjoyed about mass though was the Eucharist(in which I hardly received) and the sign of the peace.
the funny thing was is that I would tell other people I was catholic but in name only. I never called myself evangelical for some reason. However, I believed in reform theology fervently ie sola scriptura, faith alone. Once I started my journey back, I did not do it willingly. I even contemplated Eastern Orthodoxy.

I very much like Hank Hannegraff as well. I still listen to his show from time to time. You might be right. However, I find it odd that while I think Hank is brilliant, it seems that when it comes to the early church he kind of glosses over the distinct Catholic theology that is clearly present

This comment begs the question, in what manner? I have in-depth read and studied the ante-nicene fathers and I can tell you that there are none who follow anything close to the Catholicism of nowadays, if you pick and choose snippets from each you may leave the impression but reading them as a whole you see different views on; eschcatology, salvation, justification, church governance, baptism, the eucharist, hell, papacy, purgatory, scripture, tradition, trinity, Mary, veneration of Images…The list goes on and on.

very interesting can you show an example of where the early church fathers differed on say for example baptism? Also write in your source material, I am intrigued.

Welcome Home. I pray that others will see the truth in Catholicism through the ECF’s.

Sure no problem, a couple to start with are Justin Martyr who apparently didn’t believe in infant baptism. He mentions infants, then contrasts them with the recipients of baptism, who have committed sin, have knowledge of Christian doctrine, and exercise choice:

“Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe; he who leads to the laver the person that is to be washed calling him by this name alone. For no one can utter the name of the ineffable God; and if any one dare to say that there is a name, he raves with a hopeless madness. And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understandings. And in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and in the name of the Holy Ghost, who through the prophets foretold all things about Jesus, he who is illuminated is washed.” (First Apology, 61)

RCC teaches on this subject:
“The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth…All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism…With respect to children who have died without Baptism, the liturgy of the Church invites us to trust in God’s mercy and to pray for their salvation.” (CCC paragraphs 1250, 1261, 1283)

In other words, the RCC accuses people who delay baptism of children of depriving them of “priceless grace”, neglecting an “urgent” situation, and risking the possibility that the child won’t be saved if he dies. According to the RCC, the salvation of unbaptized children is questionable, and can be altered after death through prayer.

Compare the RCC’s claims on this subject to what the church father Gregory Nazianzen taught:

“Be it so, some will say, in the case of those who ask for Baptism; what have you to say about those who are still children, and conscious neither of the loss nor of the grace? Are we to baptize them too? Certainly, if any danger presses. For it is better that they should be unconsciously sanctified than that they should depart unsealed and uninitiated. A proof of this is found in the Circumcision on the eighth day, which was a sort of typical seal, and was conferred on children before they had the use of reason. And so is the anointing of the doorposts, which preserved the firstborn, though applied to things which had no consciousness. But in respect of others I give my advice to wait till the end of the third year, or a little more or less, when they may be able to listen and to answer something about the Sacrament; that, even though they do not perfectly understand it, yet at any rate they may know the outlines; and then to sanctify them in soul and body with the great sacrament of our consecration. For this is how the matter stands; at that time they begin to be responsible for their lives, when reason is matured, and they learn the mystery of life (for of sins of ignorance owing to their tender years they have no account to give), and it is far more profitable on all accounts to be fortified by the Font, because of the sudden assaults of danger that befall us, stronger than our helpers.” (Orations, 40:28)

Yes please show an example or two.

Thank you,

See the post above yours. Any other subjects you would like me to expand on?

yeah, is your favorite martin Saint Martin or Martin Luther?

St. Martin Luther.:smiley:

When comparing the faith of the Church Fathers with the faith of the Catholic Church it is important that one is aware that it is the ‘Consensus of the Fathers’ that counts not the opinions of indiviudal Church Fathers. Therefore it is not enough to find one or two church fathers that teach or hold an opinion contrary to that of The Catholic Church, rather one must establish that a majority do. Without doing this one is a making a non-argument for the church does not count the opinion of individual of individual Church Father’s as infallible but the Consensus of The Fathers.

As regards infant Baptism there is a consensus of the Church fathers to support it.

It’s interesting that Justin Martyr has been brought up in this discussion as in his 'First Apology’ he says 'And many, both men and women, who have been Christ’s disciples from childhood, remain pure and at the age of sixty or seventy years…'
Now if one believes that to be a disciple one must a fully conscious decision as an adult how can people be disciples from childhood? Further the quote implies that as a child the person was pure (but not from birth) and they retained this purity, what could have given them this purity? The answer of course is Baptism.

Polycarp in his ‘Martyrdom of Polycarp’ declared ** ‘Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour?’** Again this refers to the entirity of his life, stating that he had served him his whole life, from his childhood.

More explicitly Irenaeus in his ‘Against Heresies’ states “For He came to save all through means of Himself–all, I say, who through Him are born again to God–infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men.” Now being born again is an explicit reference to Baptism, how else are infants and children to be born again?

Origen states in his Homily on Luke, XIV '[T]herefore children are also baptized’ and in his Homily on Romans "For this reason, moreover, the Church received from the apostles the tradition of baptizing infants too."

Indeed there are multiple sources from Origen explicitly stating that infant baptism was the practice of the early church and dozens of Fathers that agree on the subject, there is clearly therefore a consensus of the fathers on the subject, one that agrees with The Catholic Church’s teachings.

It does seem that Justin Martyr did not think that infants should be baptized

But in that same article he does acknowledge that Baptism is for the remission of sins. The Catholic doctrine is believed by him way back then. He just wouldn’t apply it to babes. Other’s would including……
Gregory Nazianzen who believed in baptism for children “Certainly, if any danger presses.” You see, because he believed in baptismal regeneration. It seems to have taken a few years for the Church to rule on this, just like it took many years for the Church to define the Trinity. The Church Fathers were Catholic. Read Irenaus below a different prospective.


“He [Jesus] came to save all through himself; all, I say, who through him are reborn in God–infants, and children, and youths, and old men. Therefore he passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age . . . [so that] he might be the perfect teacher in all things, perfect not only in respect to the setting forth of truth, perfect also in respect to relative age” (Against Heresies 2:22:4 [A.D. 180]).


(I was going to write “anything else I can help you with?” but I’m not sure that I can get to it, I’m a bit under the weather.

BTW Martin Luther believed in infant baptism as do Lutherans today. I know these things.

Annie (ex-Lutheran LCMS)

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