Why do Protestants think they know more about the bible?

At my current job I went into the place as a bible only believing Christian. A particular Director would scoff at baptism being necessary for salvation. Well, he knew I was Church of Christ and that argument doesn’t float there. It’s harshly rebuked and I did my part but in a gentler way than others would have done… my Catholicity shining through.

Well about 2 years ago now, my wife and I ventured on a stroll through the early church and WOW… We all Catholic now. I’m a revert though. So around last Easter we were talking about some amazing things I discovered about modern Orthodox Judaism practices and believes dealing with the Passover. We ended up in a friendly discussion that ended up in him trying to correct my quotation from scripture… remember, I was bible only for a very long time and knew scripture quite well before converting to the Church of Christ. I married into a huge ministry family. My own mom was a huge bible only family that started a church some generations back. I’ve studied scripture using several translation and even liked my Catholic bible as a bible only Christian… a preacher told me that he thought it was a good translation too. I’ve memorized scripture form the KJV, NIV, NAB, and others. I used to have a huge library of commentaries, lexicons, dictionaries, Philo, Josephus, etc… I love this stuff. But while I was there getting frustrated with all the distractions of erronious commentary I ended up donating my entire library to one of our former congregations saying that if we’re going to claim to be bible only then we need to just use the bible. I know…

Anyway. I corrected that man and said that it just depends on which translation your quoting and told him a couple of translations I like and why. He didn’t say anything. Now he just looks at me funny. I think I blew his mind. Funny.

You’re a convert/revert, though. Unfortunately, a whole lot of Catholics don’t bother reading their Bibles as thoroughly as we should. I think the Protestants are on to something here, even if some take it to farcical extremes, by imagining that Catholics don’t read Bibles at all.

I just fear that the stereotype exists for a reason in addition to the strange anti-Catholic myths.

Don’t kid yourselves, people.

Protestants, especially pop-evangelicals, don’t read the Bible that much, beyond their favorite proof-texts.

They can quote a verse out of context, but I’ve noticed when I ask them what the next verse says, they only give funny looks.

What makes them madder than anything else is when you don’t roll over and admit they are right when they fire their first shot.

A nail has been hit squarely on the head with the comment about quoting favorite proof texts. I grew up in a conservative independent Baptist church where quoting Bible passages was something quite common. The kids went to Bible Memory Association (BMA) meetings and quoted the week’s memory work for hearers. Everyone was sort of expected to have a favorite Bible verse, sort of like an e-mail signature. We had what were called sword drills in Training Union classes. Kids stood in a line at the front of the room and had races to see who could locate called-out Bible verses faster. The teacher would call out, say, John 3:16 and all the kids went tearing through their Bibles to find the verse and to start reading it aloud.
When I met my future wife, a cradle Catholic, I thought I knew the Bible well enough to feel smug about anything the Church taught that was different from my own upbringing. As I started going to Mass with her and read more and more from Catholic sources, I was struck with something that hit me hard. I thought all my proof text quotes had only one possible interpretation and that was, of course, the one I was taught. It did not occur to me that there could be other approaches or that there could be more to it. We never and I mean never went into certain verses of the Bible that are impossible to explain in my former system. Our church had all the answers and others, especially the Catholics, did not because they really did not believe in the Bible, or so we thought.
Because we read those parts of the Bible quite a bit and knew that stuff well, I felt prepared against those people I thought were silly Catholics, especially when I met so many who did not have a clue about any part of the Bible. It did not help that Catholics were, on average, not terribly well prepared to defend what they believed.
My readings, the priests I met and picking up the facts showed me that there was far more than I imagined. Yes, I knew it all without having a clue.
I made it across the Tiber in 1990 and I thank God for it.

It stems, in part, from the early history of the Church. Before most people were literate and Bible translations/copies were few and far between, the Church distilled the word and taught spiritual truths to the Catholic faithful. In the reformation, and with the invention of the printing press, part of the Protestant rebellion was getting the scriptures to the people and telling them they could read, and interpret for themselves.

I have heard many stories of Parish priests who have discouraged their congregants from reading the scriptures and to rely, instead, on the Catholic liturgy and the teachings of the Church.

There was a concerted movement back to scripture in Vatican II and the CCC is clear that we all (all lay members of the Church) should be reading and studying the scriptures, as a complement to Church tradition which together comprise the Deposit of Faith.

But the stereotype of Catholics not knowing the Bible remains firmly entrenched in the minds of many Protestants.



I sincerely doubt that any priest discouraged the reading of the Holy Scriptures by someone who was literate and could understand God’s Word in light of the entirety of His Truth.

Unfortunately, none of us, no matter how smart or well educated, can attend a Bible study, or read the Scriptures and discern the Truth without help.

The problem comes in when Scripture is taken out of context, or when it is read through “proof texts” or by someone who is misinformed.

Reading the Bible in light of Jesus’ Truth as it has been revealed throughout the ages, primarily through His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, is a beautiful gift from God.

Even if I was given the “bible” of neurosurgery, I could not perform neurosurgery, despite the fact that I have been blessed with an incredible education. I am well educated and I still rely on the expert neurosurgeon to help me.

The illiterate peasants were smart enough to know that Jesus could guide them through their parish priest with the power of the Holy Spirit, and that they did not need to memorize random proof texts from the Bible.

Pray for those who believe they alone can find the Truth.


Many Catholics do not realize just how much it turns upside down someon who has learned so much “proof texts”. Personally I tried to read it within context… and that is how I began to seriously see the flaws in solo scriptura. The New Testament contains many clearly Catholic ideas that only Catholics abide by.

In spite what you are saying about us not being able to understand scripture…and whether or not priest did discourage lay people form reading and studying scripture is just in your head. They did. My own Catholic family have told me this over and over. Several priests have confirmed it too. It’s understandable why they were discouraging it. Protestant proselytizers kept attacking Catholics even to this day, converting them by making them stumble. After reading CAF for 2 years I have found many reverts like myself. I read scripture a lot as a young Catholic boy up to when I converted to my wife’s faith, which I had already been proselytized earlier in my youth while with my Protestant mom who didn’t realize the agressive nature of the church she let us visit. She didn’t go with us. VBS…be very careful folks… If you want your children to have the same fun…find a Catholic VBS. Some of those groups hit all the bible only rhetoric from the very beginning. Kids don’t understand or suspect that an adult Christian would allow them to be mislead.

The Holy Spirit stopped me dead in my tracks once while teaching some of the teens in our church. I was discussing the error of man’s tradition. While I was giving the presentation I stumbled…flipped to a page and almost dropped to my knees… I think I discovered for the first time the difference between Man’s tradition and Sacred Tradition. That set me off on a long drawn out soul search up until the day I reverted. I begged God to show me the truth…the way. THe irony is that I was already there, but the Catholics, including many priests in my life, set such bad examples that I couldn’t believe God wouldn’t do that. I believed that there must be something missing. It was bitter sweet for me to return. I like Jerromy Camps song “Letting Go”. I relate to the lyrics. Having been someone pursuing the pulpit ministry and to become a pastor one day. It was very difficult to just let go.

So now I’ve been really down and trying to figure out what God wants me to do next. It feels like it will be small. So small that I feel useless. Sounds like a pitty party. But it’s my feelings and I know God will get me through it. He always does.

They know more because Christ got it wrong with His Church the first time around and had to have St. Martin Luther, St. John Calvin, St. John Wesley, et al. to come fix the problems. Us silly Catholics don’t know anything about the Bible and have to have the Protestants affect us. Hooray!:stuck_out_tongue:


Alloho minokhoun,

Thanks for your conversion testamony!!

Gee, wonder how Scott Hahn who has a PH.D in Bibliology, theology and everything else and he is a Catholic convert. NO ONE knows the bible better than this brilliant man.
Father Corapi knows it inside out as do most Catholics. It is simply a myth. I think some Protestants worship the bible. That’s all they know and nowhere is it in the bible that says it is just the bible that will save us.

[quote= I think some Protestants worship the bible.

Looks like we’ve found another similarity between Protestants and Catholics. Some of eachworship things other than God Almighty…Some Protestants worship the Bible…and some Catholics worship statues…who would have thunk it??? So much alike and yet so different.:slight_smile:

er…thunk is not a word…

John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Do you believe that some of the people you are maligning (like myself) are your brothers?

I know, I must be taking these verses out of context.

I’ve been on both sides of the fence (it’s a tragedy that there is a fence) and in my experience there is much more of an emphasis on reading the Bible in Protestant Churches than there is in Catholic Churches. Perhaps Catholics in general are more comfortable relying on the fact that they were baptized as infants and that the Catholic Church contains the fullness of truth. We all need to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith.

Georgia didto…I meant to say something. this brings up an interesting thing. The church we used to attend never went into or even liked conversion stories. They act like everyone should just know the truth and shame on you for refusing to believe as you should.

We love conversion stories.

I’ve never seen anyone worship a statue. That would be bazaar. You’d think some worship the bible the way they sing and talk about it. But I know they really don’t.

That’s why we examine our consciences before confession and when we in public say “I confess to almighty God and you my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own faults, in my thoughts, in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, and I asked the Blessed Virgin Mary and you my brothers and sisters to pray for me to the Lord our God.”

Many people from all walks of like vary in temperment. That means we are sinners. And it is charitable to forgive others even when they are wrong in how they treat us. That’s what really makes a Saint. Look at St. John Bosco and many other saints. There is always someone there to try us. It’s just double hard when it’s me trying myself.

Funny, in my experiences (also in 95% of the discussions in here), it is the RCs who’re the best at THAT story - qouting verses out of context, and then calling you a “catholic-hater” when you don’t roll over and accept their contradictory statements.

Not all, though; that needs to be said!

I almost reacted to your first paragraph and then I saw your second… That’s right. Not all Catholics are knuckleheads. But it is true that most evangelicals couldn’t quote BCV if their life was at stake. They certainly can’t vouch for actually reading scripture as much as they do. Our preachers used to drill us to try to be more devoted to daily bible reading…not study. Many would start out okay but most would say that they just didn’t have the time. That sounds familiar…Catholics.

Pope Benedict XVI today during the mass quoted St. Jerome. “to not know scripture is to not know Christ”. He was emphasizing the need for evangeliziation. Evangelization is the responsibility of all baptized Christians.

Now wait a minute, I just said I wanted to be friends…:hmmm: I take it back because we don’t have contradictory statements, but you have contradictory beliefs. If anyone quotes out of context, it is your church and the other 30,000+ denominations.

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