Why Protestants Intentionally Ignore that people diverge on Interpretations of the Bible?

Hello, I have a big issue with protestantism, and it is a problem that has to do even with the most enlightened protestants, with theology degrees and who are in protestantism for decades.

The problem is, they seem to intentionally ignore the fact that 2 people who honestly seek for God, and pray, and honestly study and try to understand the bible can have 2 different interpretations. It’s amazing you see, everywhere i see protestant pastors saying: “The Bible means that… The bible means this… Catholicism is not biblical.” But I say to myself: (Edited)? Why they are talking as they had an authority of what the bible really means? They don’t see that even protestants don’t agree with the same passages? And that if sola scriptura ultimately is a personal interpretal so they cannot say with confidence that someone is wrong with his interpretation because it is always just a case of different personal interpretations.

I was watching Bill Nye and Ken Ham Debate, and Ken Ham said his intepretations of the world of 6000 years were literal interpretations of the bible, and that he is a Christian and he will not change his mind about this subject because that’s God’s Words. You see he doesn’t EVEN consider the possibility that the Genesis account can have a metaphorical interpetation, that other denominations consider this a metaphorical, that even Other Christians accept evolution, he thinks he is Right, that’s the true interpretation, he does not even consider that other christians can diverge in his interpretation, and it is not just with Ken Ham, it is everywhere.

Really, It’s amazing, it happens even with enlightened protestants, protestants theologians, it is everywhere, I can’t understand why they don’t see this, I don’t know if it is some kind of problem with them, how they don’t see the implications of the sola scriptura, the fact that people will diverge even more, that they will create any kinds of denominations, and so on? Anyone can help me?

This is the achilles’ heel of Protestantism and something Protestants futilely try to explain away. Matthew 18:15-17 is very clear that there is a final authority on scriptural matters.

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

So basically Jesus is saying the Church isn’t some invisible body of believers that most Protestants like to think of it. The Church, as Jesus saw it, has magisterial powers and was the final authority on issues regarding faith and morals. If one Protestant sect believes in adult baptism or doesn’t have a problem with gay marriage, while still another is against those practices, what “Church” do you submit your inquiry to? If everyone interprets the Bible differently, then how can Matthew 18:15-17 be valid at all?

For cradle Catholics in particular this can be hard to understand, but for many Protestants it seems to make perfect sense. They’ll say that Protestants agree in essentials. But, really, they don’t. They say it doesn’t matter because all one needs is to know Jesus to be saved, but that’s not sufficient and it does matter. Many are happy where they are and see no reason to care about it. Much like many a pew-sitting Catholic who never picks up a Bible or any other spiritaul work, they assume that if they are “good people” then “God will understand” and they’ll be fine.

Many ignore the problem because it would mean turning their world upside down–something they are not prepared to do. Others have deep-seated biases and prejudices they cannot overcome. It runs the gamut of reasons/excuses. One thing they have in common is “anything but Catholic.”

I see in this two things at work, the deception of Satan and human self-will that simply doesn’t want to know the truth because it would mean aligning oneself with a God who cannot be put into a nice, neat box and contained as they would like, even if they say they would never want to do that. Like Saul on the road to Damacus only God can open their eyes and make them hear the truth. We need to be loving, evangelistic, and prayful in order to help our Protestant brethren come to know the truth.

Your post presumes all Catholics believe the same thing and that no Priests ever preach anything other than church teaching.

No, the point is that the Church teaches the same thing while Protestant denominations, who all claim to have the same Spirit of God, and the same Bible, teach different things.

There have always been individuals in the Church believing/preaching/teaching heresy. It’s what individuals who don’t want to believe Church teaching do. But, it’s not part of Church teaching that every man has the right to pronounce doctrine for himself. That’s a hertical, Protestant notion.

As a former Protestant, Matthew 18:15-17 did not give me any trouble. The “Church” was whatever local church you happened to be a member of at the time. It was not anything resembling universal.

You criticize protestants for doing exactly what Catholics do. You assume the Catholic church holds the only truth. Protestants believe the Catholic church has deviated from the truth and misinterprets areas of the bible. Catholics also believe that there is no other interpretation but theirs. How are protestants any different. So when Jesus comes someone can ask what he thinks.

I’m getting tired of all the posts that start with 'Why do Protestants…(insert veiled crticism here) …?"

Many, if not most Protestants don’t even think about it. Often they spend their time in churches that aren’t all that different from each other. Also, especially in today’s churches, doctrine isn’t often taught.

Once it dawned on me that many sincere Christians (including Catholics) believed in widely divergent, often contradictory ways, I concluded that God must not care all that much about doctrine beyond the “basics.” These basics I allowed C. S. Lewis to define for me in his book, Mere Christianity. After all, Christian A was serving God as faithfully as Christian B, was also obviously in as close a relationship to Christ as Christian B, yet their doctrinal beliefs were very different. How then could the doctrinal distinctions matter?

Amen - - This is the almost universal understanding among protestants - that is is whatever the “local” church is - or whatever communion they might belong to.
So I ask them - "if this is so, then why did the local church in Antioch feel the need to send Paul to the local church in Jerusalem - to the elders and the Apostles - in order to solve the matter of the Judaizers?
Why didn’t the local church in Antioch simply inform the local church in Jerusalem that they had no jurisdiction over them. Then - if the Judaizers wanted to have a presence in Antioch they could open their own church up the street from the Gentile Christians…:smiley:

Then I show them the many verses in the NT pointing toward a profound unity…
John 17:20-21
20*"I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, 21*that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Rom 15:5-6
5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Cor 1:10
I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

2 Cor 13:11
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Php 1:27
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,

1 Pet 3:8
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

I explain that all of these things, the instructions in Mt 18:15-18, the demonstration of those instructions in practice in Acts, all of the calls for unity point to a visibly unified and authoritative Church - not a loose collection of divergent and competing groups.

After this I invite them to share with me the biblical evidence that supports their “church model” - the locally independent one.

This always leaves them silent…for there simply is no such evidence in Scripture.

Peace
James

Interesting that you see that attitude “everywhere.” I was Protestant for over 50 years, and none of us that I knew felt like that.

I am just mirroring what the original post said and what you affirmed. In the original post, reverse where the term Catholic and Protestant are used and re-read it. What he is saying is “they say they have an authority but many give different interpretations!” What I am saying is the Catholic Church says they have the same authority but many give different interpretations.

Just spend an hour reading the forums here and you will see differences in Catholic teaching from liturgy to sexual ethics to performing the Sacraments. Is it really united teaching if the representatives don’t follow it? You will presumably say yes, as you should.

The other side is just because some teachers mis interpret the Bible, doesn’t make it less authoritative or not containing that which is needed for salvation.

Thanks for the response.

Neither of these are good things–I hope you aren’t saying they are.

Once it dawned on me that many sincere Christians (including Catholics) believed in widely divergent, often contradictory ways, I concluded that God must not care all that much about doctrine beyond the “basics.” These basics I allowed C. S. Lewis to define for me in his book, Mere Christianity. After all, Christian A was serving God as faithfully as Christian B, was also obviously in as close a relationship to Christ as Christian B, yet their doctrinal beliefs were very different. How then could the doctrinal distinctions matter?

There is no such thing as “mere Christianity.” I used to ascribe to that theory, too, in order to be kind, nice and ecumenical. It’s an idea Lewis cooked up but hardly a tenet of Christianity. Anyone who is baptized with the trinitarian rite with the same intent as the Church is a Christian, but if they aren’t a part of the Catholic Church they are depriving themselves of all God wants for them. They may heroically reach a state of holiness, but it’s against the odds.

The ones I really feel sorry for are Catholics who have the fullness of truth, taught undiluted and unchanged since the Apostles who simply sit in a pew and yawn all through Mass, never read a Bible or any other spiritual reading, don’t pray, and then think they are “fine.” It makes me shudder with fear for them.

Actually it is that we believe the Church holds the fullness of truth not the only truth.

Protestants believe the Catholic church has deviated from the truth and misinterprets areas of the bible.

May we assume that Protestants also believe that other protestants have deviated from the truth and misinterpret areas of the bible?

Catholics also believe that there is no other interpretation but theirs. How are protestants any different. So when Jesus comes someone can ask what he thinks.

For me - the difference lies in:
a) The protestants claiming the Bible as their ultimate source (Sola Scriptura)
b) Protestants ignoring the blatant and obvious call to unity contained in Scripture.

If the reformers had come together in council (as prescribed in Scripture) and hammered out their doctrinal differences, They could have stood squarely and confidently on Sola Scriptura - having followed the Scriptural model.
However, they did not do that…Having rejected the Authority of the Visible Catholic Church - they continued to do so with each other. Instead of coming together they split ever further apart and developing doctrines that conflicted with each other.
Yet each one continuing to claim the authority of Scripture and the Holy Spirit.

That is why I could never be a protestant. If I am to be Christian - I must be Catholic…It is the most biblical of the Churches.

Peace
James

Personally I’d like to see someone quote the following to Ken Ham or anyone who says everything in the Bible should be understood literally: Mt 18:8-9 “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into fiery Gehenna.” Someone please quote this verse to them and ask why they still have all their hands, feet and eyes.

Know a few people I should spring this on. :slight_smile: I still have friends who belong to locally independent churches. These particular churches claim to be New Testament churches that follow the Bible, at least the NT, completely. I am not sure how they explain away the Scripture you cited.

I thought that was the point of the GIRM?

I don’t want to sound ornery, but why is is so bad for Protestants but ok for Catholics?

From Luke 9:49 Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.”

50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”:wink:

The “mere Christianity” theory worked for me for many years, though not because I was trying to be nice. It seemed the best explanation for what I was witnessing in the lives of my friends. Their holiness was what I noticed. However, I agree completely that they were (and are) “depriving themselves of all God wants for them.” They did not understand any of their beliefs in a sacramental way, so of course they were missing the Eucharist along with the other sacraments.

Well - just to give you a heads up…
They will often say that Mt 18:15-18 refers to “personal sin” (if your brother sin against you) - so I ask them is teaching a false gospel is a sin…they have to agree that it is, so - the passage covers doctrinal issues.

They will sometimes say that Mt 18 does not relate to Acts 15…but you can easily show how perfectly the one mirrors the other. Acts speaks of some men coming up from Jerusalem and there being debate with them. This fits with the "tell them their sin privately - and then bring in witnesses - Finally “tell it to the Church” - Paul and Barnabas head off for Jerusalem to “Tell it to the Church” - to lay it before the Apostles and elders.

Another argument they will employ is - Look at the verse following Mt18:18 - vs 20 Where two or three are gathered in my name - there I am among them. They use this to say that the Church referred to above can simply be the local community.
I respond with - if this were so - then there would be no need for verse 17 since the bringing in or two or three witnesses (vs 16) would constitute telling it to the Church. Therefore the Church in verse 17 is something different than simply bring together a few believers.

Add to everything else the fact that the word “Church” is used only twice in the Gospels. Both times in Matthew, both times spoken by Christ Himself and both times in connection with the authority to bind and loose…

Nowhere in the NT is there support for locally independent and doctrinally divergent churches…

Peace
James

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