Who settles disagreements for non-Catholics?

As I read the threads here, I see all kinds of different opinions on other religions, both by believers and unbelievers. For example, in one thread I just saw, some Muslims believe that God is love and loves all people (just like Christianity) and others don’t. So who settles that one, without a living teaching body like the Magisterium to do so?

It’s not just Muslims I wonder this about. I have asked Protestants this question. They either tell me that it doesn’t matter as long as you believe in Jesus (so a Protestant can find a church that lines up with his beliefs no matter what they are), or they tell me their interpretation of the Bible is right (in spite of the fact that no two seem to agree).

So, I don’t get it. Without the Magisterium, how do you know what to believe? Without the Church, I would be lost, trying to find a school of thought that made sense, just like I was before I converted.

Without the Lutheran confessions, and our Church leadership, I would be lost, as well. Lutherans look to the scriptures, and their right reflection in the confessions, early councils and creeds. We depend on our communion’s hermeunetics, just as Catholics depend on yours.


Hi Jon!

It should be noted that there are significant differences among Lutheran synods (maybe you implied that in “our communion’s hermeunetics” meaning the LCMS only?).

Also, the OP specifically noted the Magisterium as the Catholic teaching authority – for the sole authoritative interpretation when differences arise from the many ways scriptures, councils and creeds could possibly be understood. There is no overall Lutheran equivalent, although the confessions try to address the need.

Yes, no doubt. I was speaking synodically.


The bishops collectively.

In a lot of circumstances, they don’t in fact get settled. That’s what leads to the “Third Baptist Church” of Anytown vs. the “Second Baptist Church” of Anytown. A group in disagreement just breaks off.

Lots of reading, praying, and study - and most importantly humility.

As a Lutheran, I’m lucky because there’s a whole body of clearly written work to gain insight from.

Some Baptists I know don’t have it so easy - they study the bible in groups three times a week for about two hours each time. A lot of discussion and praying has led them to good theology. Better than I would have expected.

I will point out that the Magisterium doesn’t quite let you off the hook as far as thinking - The SSPX introduced some valid ideas that may not entirely been aligned with the Magisterium as far as precedence of ideas, for example.

The deacons wives.

If there are disagreements within a Protestant church, those holding the opposing opinion just leave and form their own community. That is why you have thousands of them now.

Judaism has no Magisterium, no Pope, no Canon Law. But it does have Torah Law and Oral Law (Talmud). Neither is accepted as divinely inspired by all Jews, particularly the latter. And even for those who accept the Torah as the Divine Word of G-d, there are differences of interpretation among rabbis and scholars. Studying Torah is a lifelong endeavor for Torah (Orthodox) Judaism, which is aided by Talmud as well as, for some, the Kabbala. However, as the Talmud states: “Studying is not the ultimate, but the doing.” Judaism is mainly an orthoprax religion although there are also certain principles of faith that virtually all Jews agree upon. Acts of loving kindness take precedence in Judaism above all else. However, in order to know what is moral and what is not, the constant study of Torah is essential.

The Wesley Quadrilateral:
[/LIST]Really, not that different from others; but John Wesley had an exceedingly logical mind & using his four rules for understanding can ease the way mightily.

And then, of course, there are the;) 91,312 &1/2 committees that we have set up to deal with everything. (Father Wesley also had :shrug:OCD).


For LCMS Lutherans, its the LWML (Lutheran Women’s Missionary League)


In one Baptist church I was in it was the Young Ladies Missionary Society. Forty plus years however had dwindled thier size to four old ladies who had their own separate budget from the rest of the church, and no one dared question it…:smiley:

Mostly, the look around until they find someone who preaches what they can accept

No one. The evidence is the literally thousands of conflicting and competing Protestant denominations, all based on the same Bible, yet all disagree with every other denomination about what the Bible means.

It’s quite the opposite, actually.

While there are plenty of “independent” Evangelical churches, there are also major denominations with formalized hierarchies and assemblies that decide on major theological and moral issues.

Aren’t you an ex-Baptist, Jim Dandy? You should know this.

For Muslims- at least for Sunnis- they do assemble all their important leaders on some type of regular basis. I’m not sure exactly how it works, but it has something to do with seeing what consensus they have and what they can do together going forward. For Protestants, there’s a World Council of Churches or something along those lines that coordinates between Anglicans and Lutherans and a couple of others, and for the mostly non-mainline Protestants there’s the Evangelical Theological Society. One place where issues are discussed and disputes are sometimes settled is the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, or JETS. It’s a way of getting lots of expertise in one place where it can influence people, shape trends, and put ideas to the test of peer review. This is one place where Protestants have the opportunity to demonstrate relevant expertise on a given issue, and if they are successful, they get stuff done. Like settle a disagreement, perhaps. Sometimes it only establishes a middle ground or lays out how we ought agree to disagree, but sometimes consensus is reached, concessions are made, criticisms are withdrawn after detailed exposition where understanding is reached, and usually there’s a lot of those things happening on the way to a resolution of a somewhat lengthy process. We don’t really believe in shortcuts, but we do believe in this type of orocess.

While that is true of groups that have a Congregationalist style of governance, it is much rarer in those with a presbyterian or an episcopal style system.

Protestantism was born upon the principle of separation and division. All the early Reformers identified themselves by the nature and extent of their denial of Catholic faith. This fruit of separation and division continues to self seed and grow today, so that now we have more denomenations than can be counted. The answer to your question is that, since there is no one to separate them, they just continue to divide over their separations.

Now I notice they are coming full circle, and evangelical circles are attempting to rejoin and reunite with one another, forming alliances on common doctrine. These are decided upon basically by majority vote at conclaves. Unfortunately, Christianity was never intended to be a democratic society. It is a monarchy, with Christ as the Head, and the successors of those He appointed as Apostles to lead His Body here on earth.

Most times they don’t get settled. As others have said that is why there are so many different denominations. Some of the mainline denominations have a type of hierarchy but it is based on votes, so their interpretation of scripture can change by majority rule of bishops or elders or congregation.

Sometimes it is just one person who everyone has allowed to lead them.

Jesus said in Matthew 18:17 when you disagree with someone or have an issue with someone and you can’t come to an agreement, “take it to the Church.” If there is no church behind you with final authority people become angry and split, so even though some of the protestants are uniting and starting councils or already have hierachy set up, there is no final church authority.

Also, Jesus promised that when the Holy Spirit would come he would lead us into all truth. Another reason for a need for Church authority. In protestantism, there can’t be a walking in all truth if everyone is dividing and splitting.

In my little town, we have seen many protestant churches come and go, divide and leave, from Baptist to Evangelical to Lutheran over arguments they have not been able to settle.

This is the issue that brought me home to the Catholic church and what brings so many others in also.

I heard someone say once that protestantism is a spirit that continues to divide and divide.

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