150 Reasons why I am Catholic by Dave Armstrong
And You Should Be Too!
by Dave Armstrong
1. Best One-Sentence Summary: I am convinced that the Catholic Church conforms much more closely to all of the biblical data, offers the only coherent view of the history of Christianity (i.e., Christian, apostolic Tradition), and possesses the most profound and sublime Christian morality, spirituality, social ethic, and philosophy.
2. Alternate: I am a Catholic because I sincerely believe, by virtue of much cumulative evidence, that Catholicism is true, and that the Catholic Church is the visible Church divinely-established by our Lord Jesus, against which the gates of hell cannot and will not prevail (Mt 16:18), thereby possessing an authority to which I feel bound in Christian duty to submit.
3. 2nd Alternate: I left Protestantism because it was seriously deficient in its interpretation of the Bible (e.g., "faith alone" and many other "Catholic" doctrines - see evidences below), inconsistently selective in its espousal of various Catholic Traditions (e.g., the Canon of the Bible), inadequate in its ecclesiology, lacking a sensible view of Christian history (e.g., "Scripture alone"), compromised morally (e.g., contraception, divorce), and unbiblically schismatic, anarchical, and relativistic. I don't therefore believe that Protestantism is all bad (not by a long shot), but these are some of the major deficiencies I eventually saw as fatal to the "theory" of Protestantism, over against Catholicism. All Catholics must regard baptized, Nicene, Chalcedonian Protestants as Christians.
5. Catholic unity makes Christianity and Jesus more believable to the world (Jn 17:23).
6. Catholicism, because of its unified, complete, fully supernatural Christian vision, mitigates against secularization and humanism.
7. Catholicism avoids an unbiblical individualism which undermines Christian community (e.g., 1 Cor 12:25-26).
8. Catholicism avoids theological relativism, by means of dogmatic certainty and the centrality of the papacy.
9. Catholicism avoids ecclesiological anarchism - one cannot merely jump to another denomination when some disciplinary measure or censure is called for.
10. Catholicism formally (although, sadly, not always in practice) prevents the theological relativism which leads to the uncertainties within the Protestant system among laypeople.
11. Catholicism rejects the "State Church," which has led to governments dominating Christianity rather than vice-versa.
12. Protestant State Churches greatly influenced the rise of nationalism, which mitigated against universal equality and Christian universalism (i.e., Catholicism).
13. Unified Catholic Christendom (before the 16th century) had not been plagued by the tragic religious wars which in turn led to the "Enlightenment," in which men rejected the hypocrisy of inter-Christian warfare and decided to become indifferent to religion rather than letting it guide their lives.
14. Catholicism retains the elements of mystery, supernatural, and the sacred in Christianity, thus opposing itself to secularization, where the sphere of the religious in life becomes greatly limited.
15. Protestant individualism led to the privatization of Christianity, whereby it is little respected in societal and political life, leaving the "public square" barren of Christian influence.
16. The secular false dichotomy of "church vs. world" has led committed orthodox Christians, by and large, to withdraw from politics, leaving a void filled by pagans, cynics, unscrupulous, and power-hungry. Catholicism offers a framework in which to approach the state and civic responsibility.
17. Protestantism leans too much on mere traditions of men (every denomination stems from one Founder's vision. As soon as two or more of these contradict each other, error is necessarily present).
18. Protestant churches (esp. evangelicals), are far too often guilty of putting their pastors on too high of a pedestal. In effect, every pastor becomes a "pope," to varying degrees (some are "super-popes"). Because of this, evangelical congregations often experience a severe crisis and/or split up when a pastor leaves, thus proving that their philosophy is overly man-centered, rather than God-centered.
19. Protestantism, due to lack of real authority and dogmatic structure, is tragically prone to accommodation to the spirit of the age, and moral faddism.
20. Catholicism retains apostolic succession, necessary to know what is true Christian apostolic Tradition. It was the criterion of Christian truth used by the early Christians.
21. Many Protestants take a dim view towards Christian history in general, esp. the years from 313 (Constantine's conversion) to 1517 (Luther's arrival). This ignorance and hostility to Catholic Tradition leads to theological relativism, anti-Catholicism, and a constant, unnecessary process of "reinventing the wheel."
22. Protestantism from its inception was anti-Catholic, and remains so to this day (esp. evangelicalism). This is obviously wrong and unbiblical if Catholicism is indeed Christian (if it isn't, then - logically - neither is Protestantism, which inherited the bulk of its theology from Catholicism). The Catholic Church, on the other hand, is not anti-Protestant.
23. The Catholic Church accepts the authority of the great Ecumenical Councils (see, e.g., Acts 15) which defined and developed Christian doctrine (much of which Protestantism also accepts).
24. Most Protestants do not have bishops, a Christian office which is biblical (1 Tim 3:1-2) and which has existed from the earliest Christian history and Tradition.
25. Protestantism has no way of settling doctrinal issues definitively. At best, the individual Protestant can only take a head count of how many Protestant scholars, commentators, etc. take such-and-such a view on Doctrine X, Y, or Z. There is no unified Protestant Tradition.
26. Protestantism arose in 1517, and is a "Johnny-come-lately" in the history of Christianity. Therefore it cannot possibly be the "restoration" of "pure", "primitive" Christianity, since this is ruled out by the fact of its absurdly late appearance. Christianity must have historic continuity or it is not Christianity. Protestantism is necessarily a "parasite" of Catholicism, historically and doctrinally speaking.
28. When Protestant theologians speak of the teaching of early Christianity (e.g., when refuting "cults"), they say "the Church taught . . ." (as it was then unified), but when they refer to the present they instinctively and inconsistently refrain from such terminology, since universal teaching authority now clearly resides only in the Catholic Church.
29. The Protestant principle of private judgment has created a milieu (esp. in Protestant America) in which (invariably) man-centered "cults" such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, and Christian Science arise. The very notion that one can "start" a new, or "the true" Church is Protestant to the core.
30. The lack of a definitive teaching authority in Protestant (as with the Catholic magisterium) makes many individual Protestants think that they have a direct line to God, notwithstanding all of Christian Tradition and the history of biblical exegesis (a "Bible, Holy Spirit and me" mentality). Such people are generally under-educated theologically, unteachable, lack humility, and have no business making presumed "infallible" statements about the nature of Christianity.
31. Evangelicalism's "techniques" of evangelism are often contrived and manipulative, certainly not directly derived from the text of the Bible. Some even resemble brainwashing to a degree.
32. The gospel preached by many evangelical Protestant evangelists and pastors is a truncated and abridged, individualistic and ear-tickling gospel, in effect merely "fire insurance" rather than the biblical gospel as proclaimed by the Apostles.
33. Evangelicalism often separates profound, life-transforming repentance and radical discipleship from its gospel message. The Lutheran Bonhoeffer called this "cheap grace."
34. The absence of the idea of submission to spiritual authority in Protestantism has leaked over into the civic arena, where the ideas of personal "freedom," "rights," and "choice" now dominate to such an extent that civic duty, communitarianism, and discipline are tragically neglected, to the detriment of a healthy society.
35. Catholicism retains the sense of the sacred, the sublime, the holy, and the beautiful in spirituality. The ideas of altar, and "sacred space" are preserved. Many Protestant churches are no more than "meeting halls" or "gymnasiums" or "barn"-type structures. Most Protestants' homes are more esthetically striking than their churches. Likewise, Protestants are often "addicted to mediocrity" in their appreciation of art, music, architecture, drama, the imagination, etc.
36. Protestantism has largely neglected the place of liturgy in worship (with notable exceptions such as Anglicanism and Lutheranism). This is the way Christians had always worshiped down through the centuries, and thus can't be so lightly dismissed.
37. Protestantism tends to oppose matter and spirit, favoring the latter, and is somewhat Gnostic or Docetic in this regard.
38. Catholicism upholds the "incarnational principle," wherein Jesus became flesh and thus raised flesh and matter to new spiritual heights.
39. Protestantism greatly limits or disbelieves in sacramentalism, which is simply the extension of the incarnational principle and the belief that matter can convey grace. Some sects (e.g., Baptists, many Pentecostals) reject all sacraments.
40. Protestants' excessive mistrust of the flesh ("carnality") often leads to (in evangelicalism or fundamentalism) an absurd legalism (no dancing, drinking, card-playing, rock music, etc.).
41. Many Protestants tend to separate life into categories of "spiritual" and "carnal," as if God is not Lord of all of life. It forgets that all non-sinful endeavors are ultimately spiritual.
42. Protestantism has removed the Eucharist from the center and focus of Christian worship services. Some Protestants observe it only monthly, or even quarterly. This is against the Tradition of the early Church.
43. Most Protestants regard the Eucharist symbolically, which is contrary to universal Christian Tradition up to 1517, and the Bible (Mt 26:26-28; Jn 6:47-63; 1 Cor 10:14-22; 1 Cor 11:23-30), which hold to the Real Presence (another instance of the antipathy to matter).
48. Many Protestants have denied infant baptism, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Acts 2:38-39; Acts 16:15; Acts 16:33; Acts 18:8; 1 Cor 1:16; Col 2:11-12). Protestantism is divided into five major camps on the question of baptism.
51. Protestantism denies the indissolubility of sacramental marriage and allows divorce, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Gen 2:24; Mal 2:14-16; Mt 5:32; Mat 19:6, Mat 19:9; Mk 10:11-12; Lk 16:18; Rom 7:2-3; 1 Cor 7:10-14; 1 Cor 7:39).
52. Protestantism doesn't believe procreation to be the primary purpose and benefit of marriage (it isn't part of the vows, as in Catholic matrimony), contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Gen 1:28; Gen 28:3, Ps 107:38; Ps 127:3-5).
53. Protestantism sanctions contraception, in defiance of universal Christian Tradition (Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant) up until 1930 - when the Anglicans first allowed it - and the Bible (Gen 38:8-10; Gen 41:52; Ex 23:25-26; Lev 26:9; Deut 7:14; Ruth 4:13; Lk 1:24-25). Now, only Catholicism retains the ancient Tradition against the "anti-child" mentality.
54. Protestantism (mostly its liberal wing) has accepted abortion as a moral option, contrary to universal Christian Tradition until recently (sometime after 1930), and the Bible (e.g., Ex 20:13; Job 31:15; Ps 139:13-16; Isa 44:2; Isa 49:5; Jer 1:5; Jer 2:34; Lk 1:15; Lk 1:41; Rom 13:9-10).
55. Protestantism (largely liberal denominations) allow women pastors (and even bishops, as in Anglicanism), contrary to Christian Tradition (inc. traditional Protestant theology) and the Bible (Mt 10:1-4; 1 Tim 2:11-15; 1 Tim 3:1-12; Titus 1:6).
56. Protestantism is, more and more, formally and officially compromising with currently fashionable radical feminism, which denies the roles of men and women, as taught in the Bible (Gen 2:18-23; 1 Cor 11:3-10) and maintained by Christian Tradition (differentiation of roles, but not of equality).
57. Protestantism is also currently denying, with increasing frequency, the headship of the husband in marriage, which is based upon the headship of the Father over the Son (while equal in essence) in the Trinity, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (1 Cor 11:3; Eph 5:22-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Pet 3:1-2). This too, is based on a relationship of equality (1 Cor 11:11-12; Gal 3:28; Eph 5:21).
58. Liberal Protestantism (most notably Anglicanism) has even ordained practicing homosexuals as pastors and blessed their "marriages," or taught that homosexuality is merely an involuntary, "alternate" lifestyle, contrary to formerly universal Christian Tradition, as the Bible clearly teaches (Gen 19:4-25; Rom 1:18-27; 1 Cor 6:9). Catholicism stands firm on traditional morality.
59. Liberal Protestantism, and evangelicalism increasingly, have accepted "higher critical" methods of biblical interpretation which lead to the destruction of the traditional Christian reverence for the Bible, and demote it to the status of largely a human, fallible document, to the detriment of its divine, infallible essence.
60. Many liberal Protestants have thrown out many cardinal doctrines of Christianity, such as the Incarnation, Virgin Birth, the Bodily Resurrection of Christ, the Trinity, Original Sin, hell, the existence of the devil, miracles, etc.
61. The founders of Protestantism denied, and Calvinists today deny, the reality of human free will (Luther's favorite book was his Bondage of the Will). This is both contrary to the constant premise of the Bible, Christian Tradition, and common sense.
62. Classical Protestantism had a deficient view of the Fall of Man, thinking that the result was "total depravity." According to Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and Calvinists, man could only do evil of his own volition, and had no free will to do good. He now has a "sin nature." Catholicism believes that, in a mysterious way, man cooperates with the grace which always precedes all good actions. In Catholicism, man's nature still retains some good, although he has a propensity to sin ("concupiscence").
63. Classical Protestantism, and Calvinism today, make God the author of evil. He supposedly wills that men do evil and violate His precepts without having any free will to do so. This is blasphemous, and turns God into a demon.
64. Accordingly (man having no free will), God, in classical Protestant and Calvinist thought, predestines men to hell, although they had no choice or say in the matter all along!
65. Classical Protestantism and Calvinism, teach falsely that Jesus died only for the elect (i.e., those who will make it to heaven).
66. Classical Protestantism (esp. Luther), and Calvinism, due to their false view of the Fall, deny the efficacy and capacity of human reason to know God to some extent (both sides agree that revelation and grace are also necessary), and oppose it to God and faith, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Mk 12:28; Lk 10:27; Jn 20:24-29; Acts 1:3; Acts 17:2, Acts 17:17, Acts 17:22-34; Acts 19:8). The best Protestant apologists today simply hearken back to the Catholic heritage of St. Aquinas, St. Augustine, and many other great thinkers.
67. Pentecostal or charismatic Protestantism places much too high an emphasis on spiritual experience, not balancing it properly with reason, the Bible, and Tradition (including the authority of the Church to pronounce on the validity of "private revelations").
68. Other Protestants (e.g., many Baptists) deny that spiritual gifts such as healing are present in the current age (supposedly they ceased with the apostles).
69. Protestantism has contradictory views of church government, or ecclesiology (episcopal, Presbyterian, congregational, or no collective authority at all), thus making discipline, unity and order impossible. Some sects even claim to have "apostles" or "prophets" among them, with all the accompanying abuses of authority resulting therefrom.
70. Protestantism (esp. evangelicalism) has an undue fascination for the "end of the world," which has led to unbiblical date-setting (Mt 24:30-44; Mt 25:13; Lk 12:39-40) and much human tragedy among those who are taken in by such false prophecies.
71. Evangelicalism's over-emphasis on the "imminent end" of the age has often led to a certain "pie-in-the sky" mentality, to the detriment of social, political, ethical, and economic sensibilities here on earth.
72. Protestant thought has the defining characteristic of being "dichotomous," i.e., it separates ideas into more or less exclusive and mutually-hostile camps, when in fact many of the dichotomies are simply complementary rather than contradictory. Protestantism is "either-or," whereas Catholicism takes a "both-and" approach. Examples follow:
73. Protestantism pits the Word (the Bible, preaching) against sacraments.
74. Protestantism sets up inner devotion and piety against the Liturgy.
75. Protestantism opposes spontaneous worship to form prayers.
76. Protestantism separates the Bible from the Church.
77. Protestantism creates the false dichotomy of Bible vs. Tradition.
78. Protestantism pits Tradition against the Holy Spirit.
79. Protestantism considers Church authority and individual liberty and conscience contradictory.
81. On equally unbiblical grounds, Protestantism opposes law to grace.
82. Protestantism creates a false dichotomy between symbolism and sacramental reality (e.g., baptism, Eucharist).
83. Protestantism separates the Individual from Christian community (1 Cor 12:14-27).
84. Protestantism pits the veneration of saints against the worship of God. Catholic theology doesn't permit worship of saints in the same fashion as that directed towards God. Saints are revered and honored, not adored, as only God the Creator can be.
85. The anti-historical outlook of many Protestants leads to individuals thinking that the Holy Spirit is speaking to them, but has not, in effect, spoken to the multitudes of Christians for 1500 years before Protestantism began!
86. Flaws in original Protestant thought have led to even worse errors in reaction. E.g., extrinsic justification, devised to assure the predominance of grace, came to prohibit any outward sign of its presence ("faith vs. works," "sola fide"). Calvinism, with its cruel God, turned men off to such an extent that they became Unitarians (as in New England). Many founders of cults of recent origin started out Calvinist (Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science, The Way International, etc.).
87. Evangelicalism is unbiblically obsessed (in typically American fashion) with celebrities (TV Evangelists).
88. Evangelicalism is infatuated with the false idea that great numbers in a congregation (or rapid growth) are a sign of God's presence in a special way, and His unique blessing. They forget that Mormonism is also growing by leaps and bounds. God calls us to faithfulness rather than to "success," obedience, not flattering statistics.
89. Evangelicalism often emphasizes numerical growth rather than individual spiritual growth.
90. Evangelicalism is presently obsessed with self-fulfillment, self-help, and oftentimes, outright selfishness, rather than the traditional Christian stress on suffering, sacrifice, and service.
91. Evangelicalism has a truncated and insufficient view of the place of suffering in the Christian life. Instead, "health-and-wealth" and "name-it-and-claim-it" movements within Pentecostal Protestantism are flourishing, which have a view of possessions not in harmony with the Bible and Christian Tradition.
92. Evangelicalism has, by and large, adopted a worldview which is, in many ways, more capitalist than Christian. Wealth and personal gain is sought more than godliness, and is seen as a proof of God's favor, as in Puritan, and secularized American thought, over against the Bible and Christian teaching.
93. Evangelicalism is increasingly tolerating far-left political outlooks not in accord with Christian views, esp. at its seminaries and colleges.
94. Evangelicalism is increasingly tolerating theological heterodoxy and liberalism, to such an extent that many evangelical leaders are alarmed, and predict a further decay of orthodox standards.
95. "Positive confession" movements in Pentecostal evangelicalism have adopted views of God (in effect) as a "cosmic bellhop," subject to man's frivolous whims and desires of the moment, thus denying God's absolute sovereignty and prerogative to turn down any of man's improper prayer requests (Jas 4:3; 1 Jn 5:14).
96. The above sects usually teach that anyone can be healed who has enough "faith," contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (e.g., Job, St. Paul's "thorn in the flesh," usu. considered a disease by most Protestant commentators).
97. Evangelicalism, by its own self-critiques, is badly infected with pragmatism, the false philosophical view that "whatever works is true, or right." The gospel, esp. on TV, is sold in the same way that McDonalds hawks hamburgers. Technology, mass-market and public relations techniques have largely replaced personal pastoral care and social concern for the downtrodden, irreligious, and unchurched masses.
98. Sin, in evangelicalism, is increasingly seen as a psychological failure or a lack of self-esteem, rather than the willful revolt against God that it is.
99. Protestantism, in all essential elements, merely borrows wholesale from Catholic Tradition, or distorts the same. All doctrines upon which Catholics and Protestants agree, are clearly Catholic in origin (Trinity, Virgin Birth, Resurrection, 2nd Coming, Canon of the Bible, heaven, hell, etc.). Those where Protestantism differs are usually distortions of Catholic forerunners. E.g., Quakerism is a variant of Catholic Quietism. Calvinism is an over-obsession with the Catholic idea of the sovereignty of God, but taken to lengths beyond what Catholicism ever taught (denial of free will, total depravity, double predestination, etc.). Protestant dichotomies such as faith vs. works, come from nominalism, which was itself a corrupt form of Scholasticism, never dogmatically sanctioned by the Catholic Church. Whatever life or truth is present in each Protestant idea, always is derived from Catholicism, which is the fulfillment of the deepest and best aspirations within Protestantism.
100. One of Protestantism's foundational principles is sola Scriptura, which is neither a biblical (see below), historical (nonexistent until the 16th century), nor logical (it's self-defeating) idea:
102. Sola Scriptura is an abuse of the Bible, since it is a use of the Bible contrary to its explicit and implicit testimony about itself and Tradition. An objective reading of the Bible leads one to Tradition and the Catholic Church, rather than the opposite. The Bible is, in fact, undeniably a Christian Tradition itself!
103. The NT was neither written nor received as the Bible at first, but only gradually so (i.e., early Christianity couldn't have believed in sola Scriptura like current Protestants, unless it referred to the OT alone).
104. Tradition is not a bad word in the Bible. Gk. paradosis refers to something handed on from one to another (good or bad). Good (Christian) Tradition is spoken of in 1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 2:15, 2 Thess 3:6, and Col 2:8. In the latter it is contrasted with traditions of men.
106. The phrases "word of God" or "word of the Lord" in Acts and the epistles almost always refer to oral preaching, not to the Bible itself. Much of the Bible was originally oral (e.g., Jesus' entire teaching- He wrote nothing -St. Peter's sermon at Pentecost, etc.).
107. Contrary to many Protestant claims, Jesus didn't condemn all tradition any more than St. Paul did. E.g., Mt 15:3,6; Mk 7:8-9, Mk 7:13, where He condemns corrupt Pharisaical tradition only. He says "your tradition."
108. Gk. paradidomi, or "delivering" Christian, apostolic Tradition occurs in Lk 1:1-2; Rom 6:17; 1 Cor 11:23; 1 Cor 15:3; 2 Pet 2:21; Jude 3. Paralambano, or "receiving" Christian Tradition occurs in 1 Cor 15:1-2; Gal 1:9,12; 1 Thess 2:13.
109. The concepts of "Tradition," "gospel," "word of God," "doctrine," and "the Faith" are essentially synonymous, and all are predominantly oral. E.g., in the Thessalonian epistles alone St. Paul uses 3 of these interchangeably (2 Thess 2:15; 2 Thess 3:6; 1 Thess 2:9,13 (cf. Gal 1:9; Acts 8:14). If Tradition is a dirty word, then so is "gospel" and "word of God"!
110. St. Paul, in 1 Tim 3:15, puts the Church above Bible as the grounds for truth, as in Catholicism.
111. Protestantism's chief "proof text" for sola Scriptura, 2 Tim 3:16, fails, since it says that the Bible is profitable, but not sufficient for learning and righteousness. Catholicism agrees it is great for these purposes, but not exclusively so, as in Protestantism. Secondly, when St. Paul speaks of "Scripture" here, the NT didn't yet exist (not definitively for over 300 more years), thus he is referring to the OT only. This would mean that NT wasn't necessary for the rule of faith, if sola Scriptura were true, and if it were supposedly alluded to in this verse!
112. The above 11 factors being true, Catholicism maintains that all its Tradition is consistent with the Bible, even where the Bible is mute or merely implicit on a subject. For Catholicism, every doctrine need not be found primarily in the Bible, for this is Protestantism's principle of sola Scriptura. On the other hand, most Catholic theologians claim that all Catholic doctrines can be found in some fashion in the Bible, in kernel form, or by (usu. extensive) inference.
113. As thoughtful evangelical scholars have pointed out, an unthinking sola Scriptura position can turn into "bibliolatry," almost a worship of the Bible rather than God who is its Author. This mentality is similar to the Muslim view of Revelation, where no human elements whatsoever were involved. Sola Scriptura,, rightly understood from a more sophisticated Protestant perspective, means that the Bible is the final authority in Christianity, not the record of all God has said and done, as many evangelicals believe.
114. Christianity is unavoidably and intrinsically historical. All the events of Jesus' life (Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, etc.) were historical, as was the preaching of the apostles. Tradition, therefore, of some sort, is unavoidable, contrary to numerous shortsighted Protestant claims that sola Scriptura annihilates Tradition. This is true both for matters great (ecclesiology, trinitarianism, justification) and small (church budgets, type of worship music, lengths of sermons, etc.). Every denial of a particular tradition involves a bias (hidden or open) towards one's own alternate tradition (E.g., if all Church authority is spurned, even individualistic autonomy is a "tradition," which ought to be defended as a Christian view in some fashion).
115. Sola Scriptura literally couldn't have been true, practically speaking, for most Christians throughout history, since the movable-type printing press only appeared in the mid-15th century. Preaching and oral Tradition, along with things like devotional practices, Christian holidays, church architecture and other sacred art, were the primary carriers of the gospel for 1400 years. For all these centuries, sola Scriptura would have been regarded as an absurd abstraction and impossibility.
116. Protestantism claims that the Catholic Church has "added to the Bible." The Catholic Church replies that it has merely drawn out the implications of the Bible (development of doctrine), and followed the understanding of the early Church, and that Protestants have "subtracted" from the Bible by ignoring large portions of it which suggest Catholic positions. Each side thinks the other is "unbiblical," but in different ways.
117. Sola Scriptura is Protestantism's "Achilles' Heel." Merely invoking sola Scriptura is no solution to the problem of authority and certainty as long as multiple interpretations exist. If the Bible were so clear that all Protestants agreed simply by reading it with a willingness to accept and follow its teaching, this would be one thing, but since this isn't the case by a long shot (the multiplicity of denominations), sola Scriptura is a pipe-dream at best. About all that all Protestants agree on is that Catholicism is wrong! Of all Protestant ideas, the "clarity" or perspicuity of the Bible is surely one of the most absurd and the most demonstrably false by the historical record.
118. Put another way, having a Bible does not render one's private judgment infallible. Interpretation is just as inevitable as tradition. The Catholic Church therefore, is absolutely necessary in order to speak authoritatively and to prevent confusion, error, and division.
119. Catholicism doesn't regard the Bible as obscure, mysterious, and inaccessible, but it is vigilant to protect it from all arbitrary and aberrant exegesis (2 Pet 1:20, 3:16). The best Protestant traditions seek to do the same, but are inadequate and ineffectual since they are divided.
120. Protestantism has a huge problem with the Canon of the NT. The process of determining the exact books which constitute the NT lasted until 397 A.D., when the Council of Carthage spoke with finality, certainly proof that the Bible is not "self-authenticating," as Protestantism believes. Some sincere, devout, and learned Christians doubted the canonicity of some books which are now in the Bible, and others considered books as Scripture which were not at length included in the Canon. St. Athanasius in 367 was the first to list all 27 books in the NT as Scripture.
121. The Council of Carthage, in deciding the Canon of the entire Bible in 397, included the so-called "Apocryphal" books, which Protestants kicked out of the Bible (i.e., a late tradition). Prior to the 16th century Christians considered these books Scripture, and they weren't even separated from the others, as they are today in the Protestant Bibles which include them. Protestantism accepts the authority of this Council for the NT, but not the OT, just as it arbitrarily and selectively accepts or denies other conciliar decrees, according to their accord with existing Protestant "dogmas" and biases.
122. Contrary to Protestant anti-Catholic myth, the Catholic Church has always revered the Bible, and hasn't suppressed it (it protested some Protestant translations, but Protestants have often done the same regarding Catholic versions). This is proven by the laborious care of monks in protecting and copying manuscripts, and the constant translations into vernacular tongues (as opposed to the falsehoods about only Latin Bibles), among other plentiful and indisputable historical evidences. The Bible is a Catholic book, and no matter how much Protestants study it and proclaim it as peculiarly their own, they must acknowledge their undeniable debt to the Catholic Church for having decided the Canon, and for preserving the Bible intact for 1400 years. How could the Catholic Church be "against the Bible," as anti-Catholics say, yet at the same time preserve and revere the Bible profoundly for so many years? The very thought is so absurd as to be self-refuting. If Catholicism is indeed as heinous as anti-Catholics would have us believe, Protestantism ought to put together its own Bible, instead of using the one delivered to them by the Catholic Church, as it obviously could not be trusted!
123. Protestantism denies the Sacrifice of the Mass, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Gen 14:18; Ps 110:4; Isa 66:18,21; Mal 1:11; Heb 7:24-25; Heb 13:10; Rev 5:1-10/cf. Rev 8:3; Rev 13:8). Catholicism, it must be emphasized, doesn't believe that Jesus is sacrificed over and over at each Mass; rather, each Mass is a representation of the one Sacrifice at Calvary on the Cross, which transcends space and time, as in Rev 13:8.
124. Protestantism disbelieves, by and large, in the development of doctrine, contrary to Christian Tradition and many implicit biblical indications. Whenever the Bible refers to the increasing knowledge and maturity of Christians individually and (particularly) collectively, an idea similar to development is present. Further, many doctrines develop in the Bible before our eyes ("progressive revelation"). Examples: the afterlife, the Trinity, acceptance of Gentiles. And doctrines which Protestantism accepts whole and entire from Catholicism, such as the Trinity and the Canon of the Bible, developed in history, in the first three centuries of Christianity. It is foolish to try and deny this. The Church is the "Body" of Christ, and is a living organism, which grows and develops like all living bodies. It is not a statue, simply to be cleaned and polished over time, as many Protestants seem to think.
126. Protestantism pits faith against works (sola fide), which is a rejection of Christian Tradition and the explicit teaching of the Bible (Mt 25:31-46; Lk 18:18-25; Jn 6:27-29; Gal 5:6; Eph 2:8-10; Phil 2:12-13; Phil 3:10-14; 1 Thess 1:3; 2 Thess 1:11; Heb 5:9; Jas 1:21-27; Jas 2:14-16). These passages also indicate that salvation is a process, not an instantaneous event, as in Protestantism.
128. Protestantism's teaching of extrinsic, imputed, forensic, or external justification contradicts the Christian Tradition and biblical doctrine of infused, actual, internal, transformational justification (which inc. sanctification): Ps 51:2-10; Ps 103:12; Jn 1:29; Rom 5:19; 2 Cor 5:17; Heb 1:3; 1 Jn 1:7-9.
129. Many Protestants (esp. Presbyterians, Calvinists and Baptists) believe in eternal security, or, perseverance of the saints (the belief that one can't lose his "salvation," supposedly obtained at one point in time). This is contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible: 1 Cor 9:27; Gal 4:9; Gal 5:1,4; Col 1:22-3; 1 Tim 1:19-20; 1 Tim 4:1; 1 Tim 5:15; Heb 3:12-14; Heb 6:4-6; Heb 10:26,29,39; Heb 12:14-15; 2 Pet 2:15, 2 Pet 2:20-21; Rev 2:4-5.
130. Contrary to Protestant myth and anti-Catholicism, the Catholic Church doesn't teach that one is saved by works apart from preceding and enabling grace, but that faith and works are inseparable, as in James 1 and 2. This heresy of which Catholicism is often charged, was in fact condemned by the Catholic Church at the Second Council of Orange in 529 A.D. It is known as Pelagianism, the view that man could save himself by his own natural efforts, without the necessary supernatural grace from God. A more moderate view, Semi-Pelagianism, was likewise condemned. To continue to accuse the Catholic Church of this heresy is a sign of both prejudice and manifest ignorance of the history of theology, as well as the clear Catholic teaching of the Council of Trent (1545-63), available for all to see. Yet the myth is strangely prevalent.
133. Protestantism has little concept of the Tradition and biblical doctrine of mortifying the flesh, or, suffering with Christ: Mt 10:38; 16:24: Rom 8:13,17; 1 Cor 12:24-6; Phil 3:10; 1 Pet 4:1,13.
134. Likewise, Protestantism has lost the Tradition and biblical doctrine of vicarious atonement, or redemptive suffering with Christ, of Christians for the sake of each other: Ex 32:30-32; Num 16:43-8; 25:6-13; 2 Cor 4:10; Col 1:24; 2 Tim 4:6.
135. Protestantism has rejected the Tradition and biblical doctrine of purgatory, as a consequence of its false view of justification and penance, despite sufficient evidence in Scripture: Is 4:4; 6:5-7; Micah 7:8-9; Mal 3:1-4; 2 Maccabees 12:39-45; Mt 5:25-6; 12:32; Lk 16:19-31 (cf. Eph 4:8-10; 1 Pet 3:19-20); 1 Cor 3:11-15; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 21:27.
136. Protestantism has rejected (largely due to misconceptions and misunderstanding) the Catholic developed doctrine of indulgences, which is, simply, the remission of the temporal punishment for sin (i.e., penance), by the Church (on the grounds of Mt 16:19; 18:18, and Jn 20:23). This is no different than what St. Paul did, concerning an errant brother at the Church of Corinth. He first imposed a penance on him (1 Cor 5:3-5), then remitted part of it (an indulgence: 2 Cor 2:6-11). Just because abuses occurred prior to the Protestant Revolt (admitted and rectified by the Catholic Church), is no reason to toss out yet another biblical doctrine. It is typical of Protestantism to burn down a house rather than to cleanse it, to "throw the baby out with the bath water."
137. Protestantism has thrown out prayers for the dead, in opposition to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Tobit 12:12; 2 Maccabees 12:39-45; 1 Cor 15:29; 2 Tim 1:16-18; also verses having to do with purgatory, since these prayers are for the saints there).
138. Protestantism rejects, on inadequate grounds, the intercession of the saints for us after death, and the correspondent invocation of the saints for their effectual prayers (Jas 5:16). Christian Tradition and the Bible, on the other hand, have upheld this practice: Dead saints are aware of earthly affairs (Mt 22:30 w/ Lk 15:10 and 1 Cor 15:29; Heb 12:1), appear on earth to interact with men (1 Sam 28:12-15; Mt 17:1-3, 27:50-53; Rev 11:3), and therefore can intercede for us, and likewise be petitioned for their prayers, just as are Christians on earth (2 Maccabees 15:14; Rev 5:8; 6:9-10).
139. Some Protestants disbelieve in Guardian Angels, despite Christian Tradition and the Bible (Ps 34:7; 91:11; Mt 18:10; Acts 12:15; Heb 1:14).
140. Most Protestants deny that angels can intercede for us, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Rev 1:4; 5:8; 8:3-4).
141. Protestantism rejects Mary's Immaculate Conception, despite developed Christian Tradition and indications in the Bible: Gen 3:15; Lk 1:28 ("full of grace" Catholics interpret, on linguistic grounds, to mean "without sin"); Mary as a type of the Ark of the Covenant (Lk 1:35 w/ Ex 40:34-8; Lk 1:44 w/ 2 Sam 6:14-16; Lk 1:43 w/ 2 Sam 6:9: God's Presence requires extraordinary holiness).
142. Protestantism rejects Mary's Assumption, despite developed Christian Tradition and biblical indications: If Mary was indeed sinless, she would not have to undergo bodily decay at death (Ps 16:10; Gen 3:19). Similar occurrences in the Bible make the Assumption not implausible or "unbiblical" per se (Enoch: Gen 5:24 w/ Heb 11:5; Elijah: 2 Ki 2:11; Paul: 2 Cor 12:2-4; the Protestant doctrine of the "Rapture": 1 Thess 4:15-17; risen saints: Mt 27:52-3).
143. Many (most?) Protestants deny Mary's perpetual virginity, despite Christian Tradition (inc. the unanimous agreement of the Protestant founders (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc.), some Protestant support, and several biblical evidences, too involved to briefly summarize.
144. Protestantism denies Mary's Spiritual Motherhood of Christians, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Jn 19:26-7: "Behold thy mother"; Rev 12:1,5,17: Christians described as "her seed.") Catholics believe that Mary is incomparably more alive and holy than we are, hence, her prayers for us are of great effect (Jas 5:16; Rev 5:8; 6:9-10). But she is our sister with regard to our position of creatures vis-à-vis the Creator, God. Mary never operates apart from the necessary graces from her Son, and always glorifies Him, not herself, as Catholic theology stresses.
145. Protestantism rejects the papacy, despite profound Christian Tradition, and the strong evidence in the Bible of Peter's preeminence and commission by Jesus as the Rock of His Church. No one denies he was some type of leader among the apostles. The papacy as we now know it is derived from this primacy: Mt 16:18-19; Lk 22:31-2; Jn 21:15-17 are the most direct "papal" passages. Peter's name appears first in all lists of apostles; even an angel implies he is their leader (Mk 16:7), and he is accepted by the world as such (Acts 2:37-8,41). He works the first miracle of the Church age (Acts 3:6-8), utters the first anathema (Acts 5:2-11), raises the dead (Acts 9:40), first receives the Gentiles (Acts 10:9-48), and his name is mentioned more often than all the other disciples put together (191 times). Much more similar evidence can be found.
146. The Church of Rome and the popes were central to the governance and theological direction and orthodoxy of the Christian Church from the beginning. This is undeniable. All of the historical groups now regarded as heretical by Protestants and Catholics alike were originally judged as such by popes and/or Ecumenical Councils presided over and ratified by popes.
147. Protestantism, in its desperation to eke out some type of historical continuity apart from the Catholic Church, sometimes attempts to claim a lineage from medieval sects such as the Waldenses, Cathari, and Albigensians (and sometimes earlier groups such as the Montanists or Donatists). However, this endeavor is doomed to failure when one studies closely what these sects believed. They either retain much Catholic teaching anathema to Protestants or hold heretical notions antithetical to Christianity altogether (Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox), or both, making this Protestant theory quite dubious at best.
148. Catholic has the most sophisticated and thoughtful Christian socio-economic and political philosophy, a mixture of "progressive" and "conservative" elements distinct from the common-place political rhetoric and Machiavellianism which typically dominate the political arena. Catholicism has the best view of church in relation to the state and culture as well.
149. Catholicism has the best Christian philosophy and worldview, worked out through centuries of reflection and experience. As in its theological reflection and development, the Catholic Church is ineffably wise and profound, to an extent truly amazing, and indicative of a sure divine stamp. I used to marvel, just before I converted, at how the Catholic Church could be so right about so many things. I was accustomed to thinking, as a good evangelical, that the truth was always a potpourri of ideas from many Protestant denominations and Catholicism and Orthodoxy (selected by me), and that none "had it all together." But, alas, the Catholic Church does, after all!
150. Last but by no means least, Catholicism has the most sublime spirituality and devotional spirit, manifested in a thousand different ways, from the monastic ideal, to the heroic celibacy of the clergy and religious, the Catholic hospitals, the sheer holiness of a Thomas a Kempis or a St. Ignatius and their great devotional books, countless saints - both canonized and as yet unknown and unsung, Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII, the early martyrs, St. Francis of Assisi, the events at Lourdes and Fatima, the dazzling intellect of John Henry Cardinal Newman, the wisdom and insight of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, St. John of the Cross, the sanctified wit of a Chesterton or a Muggeridge, elderly women doing the Stations of the Cross or the Rosary, Holy Hour, Benediction, kneeling - the list goes on and on. This devotional spirit is unmatched in its scope and deepness, despite many fine counterparts in Protestant and Orthodox spirituality.