Book by convert critiques “the most fundamental doctrine” in Protestantism

Perspicuity, says Casey Chalk, author of The Obscurity of Scripture: Disputing Sola Scriptura and the Protestant Notion of Biblical Perspicuity, “is the most important doctrine of Protestantism that you’ve never heard of.”

(Image: Aaron Burden/

Casey Chalk is a prolific writer, contributing to such outlets as First Things, Public Discourse, The American Conservative, The Federalist, The Catholic Thing, Front Porch Republic, New Oxford Review, as well as Catholic World Report. He is also the author of The Persecuted: True Stories of Courageous Christians Living Their Faith in Muslim Lands (Sophia Institute Press).

His new book is The Obscurity of Scripture: Disputing Sola Scriptura and the Protestant Notion of Biblical Perspicuity (Emmaus Road, 2023). The authority of Scripture and its role in the Christian life is, both historically and currently, one of the core disputes between Catholics and Protestants. One might hear many Protestants declare that Scripture “clearly teaches” some thing or other, although the level of clarity is likely to be disputed. Chalk’s new book explores the historical, theological, and philosophical dimensions of this idea of the perspicuity, or clarity, of Scripture, exposing its shortcomings and offering the Catholic solution.

Chalk recently spoke with Catholic World Report about his new book, the questions of Scriptural interpretation, and how this issue affects ecumenical relations between Catholics and Protestants.

Catholic World Report: How did the book come about?

Casey Chalk: Like many Protestant converts to Catholicism, the issue of authority was central to my own conversion story. However, unlike most (or perhaps almost all) of those folks, the Protestant doctrine of perspicuity was the issue most central to my decision to depart the Reformed tradition and embrace Catholicism, which I did in 2010. Ever since then, I’ve been surprised that there has been no book-length treatment of the doctrine of perspicuity from a Catholic perspective—though there have been several books defending perspicuity written by Protestants. So I decided to write a critique of the doctrine, and tie it to my own conversion story.

CWR: Tell us a little about “perspicuity” of Scripture.

Chalk: I like to say that perspicuity is the most important doctrine of Protestantism that you’ve never heard of. And, perhaps more controversially, I’d argue it is the most fundamental doctrine in the entire Protestant tradition. Though most folks haven’t heard of perspicuity, or clarity, as it’s often called, if I explain it, you’ll probably recognize that you’ve seen it in practice. Protestants differ over how they define the doctrine, but I think the perhaps most famous (and I’d argue most defensible) version of the doctrine comes out of the Reformed tradition, and is best described in the Westminster Confession of Faith, a confessional document of English Presbyterians. We read there in Chapter 1, paragraph 7:

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

The above statement requires a little bit of unpacking. The Westminster divines are not saying that all of Scripture is equally clear, but that enough of it is that both learned and unlearned Christians, relying on the Holy Spirit in prayer and leveraging things like biblical preaching or good commentaries, that they should be able to understand what is necessary for salvation.

So, anytime you talk to a Protestant and he or she says something like “the Bible clearly teaches X,” they are making recourse to the doctrine of clarity. Of course, a lot of times that person may be going well beyond what the Westminster divines had in mind, given their narrow understanding of perspicuity. But the basic premise is that Scripture is clear enough on what’s necessary for salvation, or the essential doctrines of the Christian faith, that any well-meaning Christian should be able to read his or her Bible and find precisely that.

In the book, I get into why I think perspicuity is the most important doctrine, but the abbreviated answer would be that if Protestants don’t have perspicuity, then the Bible may be a great gift from God, akin to a treasure chest full of inestimable wonders, but there is no means of unlocking it. Perspicuity thus serves as a key that unlocks the Bible and its meaning, at least within the Protestant tradition. Without perspicuity, sola scriptura isn’t much use for Protestants.

CWR: How does this question of the perspicuity of Scripture divide Christians?

Chalk: Well, of course, Christians don’t agree on the interpretation of Scripture. And not just on secondary or tertiary issues, but even what they believe to be the most important things, including what is necessary for salvation. We see this from very early in the Reformation, as various Protestant groups go in directions very different from what Luther intended. Luther viewed many of these disparate Protestant groups as heretics, and many of them called each other much the same. Within only a couple generations after the beginning of the Reformation, St. Francis de Sales and St. Robert Bellarmine were able to identify a wide variety of Protestant beliefs about salvation, the Eucharist, baptism, or church polity, for example.

So that’s a historical and ecclesiological problem with perspicuity. But it’s also the nature of Protestantism in every generation since the Reformation. The very idea of perspicuity is that you, an individual Christian, should be able to understand the Bible on your own without recourse to a definitive interpretive authority. You may certainly have interpretive authorities you respect — say, a pastor, a theologian, or a writer. But you as the individual Christian need to weigh whatever they say against your own interpretation, to see if what they say actually jives with the Bible’s supposed “plain meaning.” And if they don’t, well, you’ll need to find a new denomination, church, pastor, interpretive tradition, whatever the case may be. So perspicuity serves to proliferate differing opinions, and by extension different religious communities.

CWR: Would overcoming this division among Christians necessarily lead to greater doctrinal unity?

Chalk: Before I answer that, I think I need to explain one of the basic philosophical problems with the doctrine of perspicuity, namely, that its defense is based on a question-begging presumption. What I mean is that if you ask a Protestant what proof he or she can offer in defense of clarity, the answer will often be that the Bible says so, and then he or she will proceed to name off various proof-texts in favor of clarity. The problem there is that the Bible’s clarity is precisely what we are debating, so presenting biblical proof-texts is circular, and thus question-begging. Because, of course, the person’s interlocutor may not agree with the interpretation of those biblical proof-texts, or even that the Bible is clear enough to accurately interpret those proof-texts in the first place!

If Protestants abandoned perspicuity, they’d have to admit that there is indeed an interpretive, institutional authority for the Bible which trumps their personal opinions. In other words, they’d need to examine extra-biblical evidence for an authoritative interpreter. I would imagine many, like me, would conclude that the Catholic Church has the best extra-biblical claim to that authority, but perhaps many would turn to the Eastern Orthodox tradition instead.

So, in that sense, yes, I think we would probably see more doctrinal unity among Christians. But just because you do away with perspicuity doesn’t mean you would necessarily do away with Protestantism. Perhaps some would declare that their own denomination or individual church possesses that authority, though I’m not sure on what extra-biblical grounds they would try to make a defensible claim to that effect, given that the Reformation itself is predicated upon a belief in the clarity of Scripture.

CWR: How did you personally come to question the perspicuity of Scripture? Were there any particular teachings, or verses, that challenged you in this regard?

Chalk: Long before I ever heard the word “perspicuity,” I felt very comfortable with the idea that the Bible was clear when it came to salvation. At least, that was what I had been taught, first as a non-denominational evangelical and then later as a Presbyterian in the Calvinist tradition. I first wavered in my confidence in that belief not when confronted with Catholic doctrines, but something called the New Perspective on Paul, a scholarly movement that began in the 1960s. The NPP scholars I read in college argued that Luther and other Reformers had badly misread St. Paul, and that Luther’s interpretation of St. Paul as teaching faith alone (sola fide, another core Protestant doctrine) was inaccurate. St. Paul, NPP scholars argue, was not wholesale rejecting the role of works in the Christian’s salvation (c.f. Rom 3:20, Gal 2:16), but rather the Old Testament “works of the law” that makes a person Jewish: Sabbath observance, dietary laws, circumcision. If that was true, then Luther got salvation wrong—badly wrong.

As a Protestant whose salvation depended on my belief in sola fide, that was not a pleasant option for me to contemplate. I desperately wanted NPP to be wrong, so I spent a lot of time, first in undergraduate religious studies courses, and later in Protestant seminary, reading books that criticized NPP. But I also wanted to be intellectually honest, so I read books defending NPP, as well. The more I studied, the more I realized I could spend the rest of life trying to understand Holy Scripture, and still just scratch the surface.

But by then, I was familiar with the doctrine of perspicuity, and understood how important it was within Protestantism. That’s when the light bulb went off. If the Bible is clear in regards to salvation, then it couldn’t possibly be this hard to figure out what St. Paul meant. This was supposed to be clear. Once I realized that, then I also realized I was very truly on my own as an individual Christian, asserting myself as an interpretive authority, but with no means to establish my bona fides as such. I wondered, “Does anyone else have a legitimate claim to such an interpretive authority?”

Thankfully, by then I was already communicating a lot with some Protestant converts to Catholicism, including a very dear friend who, like me, had been in Protestant seminary. In time, I realized the Catholic Church’s claim to that authority was indeed defensible and legitimate.

CWR: If Scripture isn’t clear on everything, is it clear on anything?

Chalk: Yes, I think so. Unfortunately, a lot of the Protestant responses to my book thus far seem to think I mean the entire book is hopelessly obscure. That’s not my argument. Rather, I’m responding to a specific Protestant doctrine regarding the Bible, based on that quotation from the Westminster Confession of Faith, and similar historical Protestant confessional documents. Inter-Christian debates over the Bible are about differing opinions of doctrines regarding God, creation, sin, salvation, or the end times. That’s because Christians throughout history have at least believed that the Bible teaches those doctrines; it’s that they differ over how they define or scope them.

Few, if any, people would argue that the Bible doesn’t teach that God exists, that He is in some way responsible for creation, that people are sinful, that Christ came to forgive people’s sins, or that in the end, God wins. Even people who think the Bible is erroneous and ahistorical are generally in agreement that the Bible teaches these things. The debates within Christianity are rather over the meaning of such things, in other words, formulating specific doctrines about them. Christians debate the nature of God (e.g. is He three persons in one nature, or something else?); the nature of creation (e.g. did God create the earth in seven and literal 24 hours, or is that language figurative?); the nature of sin (e.g. are all sins equal?); the nature of Christ’s salvific work (e.g. does Christ save the elect, or everyone? how does a person know he or she is saved); or the nature of the end times (e.g. will there be a rapture? will this earth be remade, or are we going to inhabit some other place?), to cite just a few examples.

So, yes, there’s a sense in which the Bible has an accessibility and clarity. The Bible clearly says “all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). The questions that have divided Christians for two millennia are about the doctrines stemming from that verse (and, of course, other verses): “who, exactly, is all?”; “what counts as sin?”; and “who is God?” Moreover, a lot of those questions are tied up with the question of our salvation.

I should also briefly add that Catholics rejoice that many Christians outside the Church come to the same beliefs as the Church on various issues—say, that babies should be baptized, or that abortion is a grave moral evil. Often our fellow Christians come to those beliefs by reading their Bibles. And we rejoice that they did! The problem there, I would argue, is that such Christians can have no certitude that their interpretation is accurate, because they lack an authoritative interpreter to confirm their interpretation. In contrast, we as Catholics can say they got it right, because we have confidence that the Magisterium has accurately interpreted the Bible, because we can recognize she has a defensible (extra-biblical) claim to that interpretive authority. Protestants, in contrast, can trust only themselves as to the interpretation of their Bibles.

CWR: What do you hope readers will take away from the book?

Chalk: I’m hopeful it will lead to serious reflection and introspection on the part of Protestants, as it did for me almost fifteen years ago. Of course, as a Protestant convert to Catholicism, I’m hopeful the book will persuade many to become Catholic as I did, because I very much believe that only Catholicism is able to fully address the question of biblical interpretive authority. But even if it doesn’t, I hope that it leads many Protestants to honestly grapple with the doctrine of perspicuity and the problems that stem from it.

I’m also hopeful many Catholics will read it, in order to better inform their conversations with our Protestant brothers and sisters. I’d argue that bringing up the doctrine of clarity in conversations or debates with Protestants is a means of quickly getting to the heart of the issue, and circumventing often unfruitful, seemingly endless proof-texting battles. Asking a Protestant if he or she believes the Bible is clear, asking them to define what they think the Bible clearly teaches, and asking them to defend their position will, I think, reap a lot of fruit in ecumenical conversations.

CWR: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Chalk: Perspicuity may not be well known, either in Protestantism or Catholicism, but I believe there are strong reasons to identify it as the bedrock of Protestant theology. And it’s hopelessly incoherent and problematic. I realize that after five hundred years of Protestant-Catholic debates usually focused on sola scriptura and sola fide, that’s quite a controversial claim. And I certainly mean it to be. But I think if you read my book, you’ll understand why I came to this conclusion.

I’ll just add in closing that I wrote this book not out of a desire to throw a rhetorical “gotcha” in the face of Protestants. I hate, and avoid like the plague, debates that seem motivated less by an authentic yearning for the truth in fellowship than by a desire to point-score. I was a Protestant for a long time, and was even in Protestant seminary for several years. I loved my Reformed tradition. And I love my Protestant brothers and sisters, many of whom remain close family and friends. This book was motivated by a love for them, and a desire for them to join me and so many other Protestant converts to Catholicism. It was the best decision I ever made.

So I’d ask Protestants to prayerfully and humbly read my book and contemplate its arguments. And if you have questions (or complaints!), feel free to reach out to me through my website:

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About Paul Senz 127 Articles
Paul Senz has an undergraduate degree from the University of Portland in music and theology and earned a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry from the same university. He has contributed to Catholic World Report, Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly, The Priest Magazine, National Catholic Register, Catholic Herald, and other outlets. Paul lives in Elk City, OK, with his wife and their four children.


    • In other words, Brian, you don’t have an argument. Like most Fundamentalists (and I was one for 20 years), you make personal judgments rather than engage with the very real issue at hand.

      • There is no argument, just an observation. Catholics trust and believe in their catechism and Christians trust and believe God’s word.

          • The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. Acts 11:26b
            Catholicism didn’t form for centuries later. God, in His divine wisdom, didn’t allow a counterfeit church to begin till then, so they couldn’t say they were the original.

          • How many centuries later? Before or after the early Church Fathers were using the term “catholic” (καθολικός, meaning “universal”) to distinguish it from gnostics and other false movements? So, for St. Ignatius of Antioch, in his AD 110 “Letter to the Smyrneans”, wrote:

            “Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop or by one whom he ordains [i.e., a presbyter]. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church”

            Ignatius, who was Patriarch of Antioch, is widely believed to have been a disciple of the Apostle John.

            Was Ignatius part of these mythical counterfeit church you mention? (Funny how Fundamentalists use the same sort of historically illiterate claims as do Mormon missionaries.)

        • More polemical blather. I’ll put it simply: Catholics believe and trust in the Triune God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and believe that salvation comes only through the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. Catholics believe that Divine Revelation culminates in Jesus Christ, who is the fullness of Truth and Life, who has gifted the Church and Her members with the Holy Spirit and entrusted Divine Revelation to the Church through apostolic succession, via sacred Scripture and sacred Tradition.

          Catechisms (Luther loved using them!) are merely books of doctrinal and spiritual instruction, often systematic or categorical in nature. That’s it.

          If Catholics aren’t really Christians, then you apparently believe there were no actual Christians until … Luther? Calvin? John Smyth? (We’ll set aside the matter of Eastern Orthodox, as I suspect that’s a bit much for you to handle.)

          What do you have? The “trail of blood”? Or some other a-historical mythology?

        • Protestants view the Bible as monovalent. If we liken the ocean to the Truths contained in Scripture, Protestants see the Truth within the Bible as the surface of the ocean. This is clear by their insistence on the doctrine of clarity. If they admit and attempt to plumb the deeper depths of meaning in the Bible, their attempts will almost always fail. Why? Because digging deeper than the surface forces them to drift further and further away from perspicuity. Consequently, they must more increasingly rely on the Holy Spirit to give them Truth. And, if true, the Holy Spirit must be incredibly confused because there are now around over forty-thousand denominations of Protestants. All claiming to teach the Truth as given to them by the Holy Spirit. All teaching different truths. Catholics understand that an infinite God would contain an infinite level of Truth of which we can learn. Scripture tells us that there aren’t enough books that could contain all the Truths that Jesus taught his Apostles. The reason that there is One Catholic Church is because the Church has the sole authority to interpret Scripture.

          The Truth in Scripture is polyvalent. Containing many multiples of layers of Truth, with no layer contradicting any other layers. I have been writing for many years about the layers of depth of Truth in the Bible. If you want, Brian, challenge me to prove it.

          • God’s truth in the Bible barely gives any ink about Mary. Sinful men in the Catholic church have added over the years the innumerable layers of devotion to one of God’s creatures.

          • Luke 1 and 2 does not equate to “barely” by any reasonable standard. But you are not reasonable and your standard (sola scriptura) is equally unreasonable.

          • Brian, you’re confusing your lack of study for lack of layers. I will take that as a challenge. Scripture is the most advanced biology book ever written. What are dust and salt pointing to in the Bible.

        • We believe in our Cathechism? You really did not get it did you? The Catechism is a study TOOL. The Bible itself is a Catholic Book. You would not have had it without the Catholic Church. Everything you are saying is indoctrinated to the core. You trust God’s word because you read the bible? We have Scripture (That bible which did not exist until the 4th century but is a Catholic Book), Sacred Scripture (which is the ORAL Teachings of the Apostles , NOT different from Bible Teachings. ) and we have the Magisterium (Authoritative Teaching of God . Authority given by Christ himself, to the apostles , to TEACH in His name) . Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium are needed to explain and understand the Bible. A 3 legged stool we have and you only have ONE. Therefore deficient and unstable and therefore creating thousands of different new churches.

          • Dear Helena:

            There will always be analytical points where Christians disagree. It is part of the fall of man and when we debate, Christ being honoured must be the focus.

            n past discussion with Carl O, he has used Catechism to underscore his points. The two times he made reference to the Catechism, the articles of faith we touched on were clearly elucidated and beautifully written. They would add to ones faith and understanding and I appreciated reading the said,

            The Catholic Church assembled the the Bible to the benefit of all followers of Christ. To read First and Second Peter gives us a clear picture of where the church may go and where she should stop.

            Deuteronomy 12:32 “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.

            Proverbs 30:6 Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

            God bless you,

            Brian Young

        • The Bible clearly teaches that Mary is the Mother of God.

          When Catholics say that, we don’t mean She is the mother of the Holy Trinity; we mean She is the Mother of God the Son, with the words “the Son” being understood, just like the words “the Father” are understood with reference to “God” in John 3:16 but not stated there.

          The word “God” refers only to God the Father in that verse, and many others, as the Holy Ghost does not have a Son, and Jesus cannot be a Son to Himself.

          Isaiah 9:6 (KJV): “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder…”

          Isaiah 9:7: “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”

          Mary is the mother of the Person mentioned in those verses. Do you deny that?

          But what does the Bible call that Person?

          Isaiah 9:6: “…and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, THE MIGHTY GOD, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

          Thus, Mary is the Mother of the Prince of Peace and also the Mother of “the Mighty God” (Jesus).

          Mary is the Mother of Jesus (John 2:1). But the name Jesus can be translated as “Yahweh saves.” Thus, Mary is the Mother of “Yahweh (saves)”.

          The name Jesus and the name Immanuel/Emmanuel are interchangeable.

          Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

          Matthew 1:21: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

          Matthew 1:23: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

          Brian, do you deny that Mary is the virgin spoken of in that passage and that She is Mother of Emmanuel? If you do, then you are denying what the Bible clearly proclaims.

          If you do not deny it, and you admit that Mary is the Mother of Emmanuel, then you must also admit that She is the Mother of God (with us), because Emmanuel means “God with us.”

          Clear Bible teaching: Mary is the Mother of God.

        • No, you don’t believe God’s word. What you believe is your opinion of what the Bible means, but the Bible must conform to your opinion.

          Here’s a list of some portions of the Bible you don’t believe.

          James 2:24: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and NOT BY FAITH ONLY.”

          1 Peter 3:21: “The like figure whereunto EVEN BAPTISM DOTH ALSO NOW SAVE US (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

          Romans 8:24: “For we are SAVED BY HOPE…”

          John 6:53, et seq: Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

          54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

          55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

          56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

          57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

          58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

          1 Corinthians 11:24: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this IS my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

          See also Matthew 26:26, Mark 14:22, and Luke 22:19. You don’t believe any of Christ’s words there.

          1 Corinthians 11:27: Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

          How can someone be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord by eating a piece of bread “unworthily”? You don’t believe that.

          Malachi 1:11 predicts a future Gentile sacrifice with incense everywhere, from the rising of the sun until the going down: “For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.”

          How does your brand of Protestantism fulfill that prophecy? Either you don’t believe those words or you believe it’s a failed prophecy.

          This future sacrifice is among the Gentiles and is everywhere and is daily. It couldn’t have been during the OT, as the Gentiles were pagans, and as Saint Paul states, “But the things which the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils and not to God (1 Corinthians 10:20).”

          And it wasn’t a Jewish sacrifice, as the prophecy clearly states it’s a Gentile one, and after the building of the temple, the Jewish people were not permitted to sacrifice anywhere but in the temple in Jerusalem. That’s why they no longer have a sacrifice. There’s no temple.

    • It is always striking how a Protestant claims justification by faith alone but refuses to believe. Faith comes from the gift of grace not the Bible and the gifts of grace are not restricted to being passed through Scripture. Such is the nature of faithlessness, that, for some people even when it is in the Bible they will not believe it; and wherever grace might make itself present, eg., creation’s bounty, they reject that equally. What you haven’t done is say what your criteria are for something when it is or must be in the Bible: how much of it should be there, how explicit, how non-explicit, what lengthiness, how much repeated, to what extent emphasized, where it should occur, what facets accompany, if the facets must persist, why necessarily imply that it-must-be-there-or-fail, when to make the implication. No-one can address what you are talking about once you never do this. You give no criterion at all but you are always going around exclaiming “Bingo! not in the Bible!” Actually you can not complete such criteria because there will be no end to them -and this is not the meaning of Scripture. The Word of God did not give Scripture alone and He never elevated it above everything else. The prophecies from of old were not about the primacy of Scripture; nor did they say that the Bible would take precedence after the coming or the departure of the Saviour.

  1. Methinks 40,000 sects is proof enough of the fog of perspicuity. Sola Scriptura treats the Bible as Muslims treat the Koran …. Divinizes a misunderstanding of text.., that’s heretical. Sola fides? Negates Jesus teaching “Thy Will be done”.

    • There is much to support your comment. History is actually interesting…

      The Muslim view of the Koran is that it was “dictated” (not “inspired” and yet written with human hands, as is the bible), and this view was definitively imposed in the middle of the ninth century (another story). And, so, like Protestantism, Islam is also sectarian, and therefore maintains the self-understanding as a “congregational theocracy.”

      One wonders whether a Catholic evangelization tied only to “Gospel values” (rather than, accurately, the incarnate Christ witnessed in the Gospels) is likewise to become more congregational, at least in moral theology (as in “faith and morals”)?

      Muslims also believe in a constant revelation or “reading and rereading” of the Koran, something akin to process theology which, by another name, seems a lot like an overly-inclusive and big-tent model of synodality….And, yet, in one of its many better moments, the Second Vatican Council teaches:

      “The Christian dispensation, therefore, as the new and definitive [!] covenant, will never pass away, and we now await no further new public revelation before the glorious manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf 1 Tim 6:14, Tit. 2:13)” (Dei Verbum, n. 4).

  2. We read: “… we have confidence that the Magisterium has accurately interpreted the Bible, because we can recognize she has a defensible (extra-biblical) claim to that interpretive authority. Protestants, in contrast, can trust only themselves as to the interpretation of their Bibles.”

    In addition to an “extra-biblical” claim, is there also a clear biblical claim? This being the historical fact of Pentecost (Acts 2:2), such that the Holy Spirit indwells (!) both the institution of the apostolic/Petrine Church (Mt 16:18; 28:18-20) and graced Christians “themselves”—graced sacramentally as the normal means?

    Then the question becomes “what gives?” when the individual contests a formal teaching of the indwelled Church as such (the Magisterium), founded by the incarnate Jesus Christ? A rhetorical question, clearly.

  3. The founder of the Catholic Church is Jesus. Christ. The founder of all Protestant denominations is man with no authority to do so.

    • Amen on founder of Catholic Church. You are wrong on one aspect of your comment on Protestantism.

      The founders of any denomination of Protestantism have man given authority, given to them by their followers to found their numerous denominations. They clearly have no Divine Authority, which is why they fragment, and continue to fragment. Every one of those denominational and non denominational churches (with a small c) are built on sand.

  4. I am not well read on Bibles, but I am attempting to get “up to speed”.

    I continue to struggle with who are the “chosen” ones since I don’t believe that an all omniscient and loving God would cast the majority of his human creation to Hell when he knows that the larger segment of world population will not hear the word and will not experience conversion. Our historic salesmanship may be flawed. Our most visible anomaly is Limbo where unbaptized babies were sent, not heaven. Catholic fathers deemed the Catholic Church’s official catechism, issued in 1992 after decades of work, dropped the mention of limbo. I continue to pray for the souls in Purgatory, but I’m still not convinced that Purgatory is dogmatically real. That being said, our Holy Catholic Church is built on the most Holy Trinity. At least one Protestant sect, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not.

    Excerpt: “what is necessary for salvation?” Are “ALL” Protestants and other non-Catholics doomed to Gehenna? I have religious Protestant relatives who believe strongly in Jesus. I never like the use of “all or none”… broad brush.

    I’ve been told that protestants use the King James version? Contrast that to the Catholic’s The New American Bible. I remember that the St. Ann’s Bible was used in my early religious education. Ann was thought to be the grandmother of Jesus. The church fathers discarded Ann’s standing because, the Fathers of the Church rejected the use of such legendary sources, the faithful in Europe had no feast in honor of our Lord’s grand-parents. In the Middle East however, the veneration of Saint Anne can be traced back to the fourth century.

    We Catholics encourage conversion of “wayward” souls. The stark differences are on the Holy Sacraments… we Catholics have seven and Luther’s Protestants have chosen only two, baptism and matrimony. That was remarkable. We add Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and matrimony.

    My final thought is the “unintended” alienation of Protestants could be a result of this dialog. God help us.

    • Christians only have 2 sacraments God has stated in the New Testament….baptism and communion. Your other 5 are man-made.

        • There are multiple different Bibles used by various Christan groups around the world.

          The Bible used by the Catholic Church (the Latin Vulgate) is one such bible. The Eastern Orthodox use a different Bible that includes other books like 3 Maccabees and 1 Esdras, and the Ethiopian Orthodox had more books still. The Anglophone Protestants have their own Bible where they chopped off all the deuterocanonical books from the Old Testament.

          The Catholics made their Bible (the Latin Vulgate) standard in the Council of Trent between 1545 and 1563 and the Eastern Orthodox made their Bible standard in the Synod of Jerusalem in 1672. The Protestants used to print the deuterocanonical books in their bibles in a section called “Apocrypha”, but in 1827 the American Protestants decided to not include the “Apocrypha” in their bibles and in 1828 the British Protestants followed the Americans, and ever since then most English language Protestant bibles do not include the deuterocanonical books.

          • Yes, I provide a link with plenty of references. It’s impossible to read John 6, the Last Supper narratives, 1 Corinthians 11, etc., as well as early Church Fathers, and not conclude that the early Church understood the Eucharist to be a sacrament (or “mystery”) and the Body and Blood of Christ. On and on it goes.

          • There are none so blind as they (Brian) who refuse to see. You haven’t yet provided a substantive response in this thread. You spout generalities backed up by thin air. You are nothing but hot air. I’m still waiting for you to respond to my question. What is dust and salt referring to in Scripture?

      • Brian, does the Bible itself actually use the word “sacrament” to describe baptism and the Eucharist? (I am assuming those are the two sacraments you are referring to.) Are you not being unbiblical, at least in your vocabulary, by referring to sacraments at all? Actually, Saint Paul, in Ephesians 5, does refer to matrimony as a “sacramentum” (Greek, “mysterion”). Also, I would be VERY interested to know what your denomination does about James 5:14. Is this apostolic rite in fact practiced in your community? You might not think it indicates the Catholic sacrament of extreme unction, but it clearly means *something* that is supposed to be practiced in authentic Christianity.

        But maybe it would be easier for everyone if, before commenting again, you could kindly simply point out to everyone a verse from Scripture which explicitly states that all Christian truth is explicitly contained in Scripture? You could cut-and-paste it or just give chapter and verse: a commentary or explanation should not be necessary if its meaning is clear. Wouldn’t want you to have to add to the Word of God with your human traditions from the 16th century.

      • This is false. Latin Catholics use the term “sacrament,” taken from the Latin “sacramentum.” However, Greek Catholics, such as myself, use the term “mystery” (“musterion” in Greek), which is the same as “sacrament.” 7 sacraments = 7 mysteries.

        Saint Paul blatantly states that marriage is a mystery (musterion), thus, a sacrament.

        Ephesians 5:31-32: “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak in Christ and in the church.

        You believe the Bible is comprised of 66 books? Where is that taught in the Bible? It is an oral tradition.

    • The King James is a traditional Protestant Bible. Its Catholic counterpart is the Douay Rheims.

      Anglo-Catholics, and Catholics with an Anglican background also have an affinity for the KJV (as it is called). The traditional introduction to the KJV contains anti-Catholic sentiment, but the actual translation itself is part of British Christian culture.

      The Douay Rheims is a tried and tested Catholic translation that will keep you in good stead (Protestants may also have recourse to the Douay as it is dependable).

      These are both traditional translations, so they use old-fashioned English.

      Hell is a place where a soul is eternally separated from God. It is a place you choose to go by rejecting God’s grace and His love.

      With regards to Purgatory, see Matthew 5:26 “Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing.”

      The Apostles’ Creed refers to the Holy Catholic Church. The Gospel and the Epistles refer to the Church of Jesus (the Church of God). Of importance is Matthew 16:18 referring to the founding of Christ’s Church.

      We look forward to the Unity of all Christians.

  5. I don’t believe that Paul’s statement at 1 Cor. 2.4,5 limits other Christians from following his example: “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”

  6. A little bit of detective work still has to be done on Luther, I recommend; and Lutherans have to bear the venture into it and the take responsibility for the clear results. Warning, it will come to many as “a hard saying”.

    Luther despised Augustine but could not bring himself to admit it. This withholding can be mapped with a two-part psychology.

    First, by the confession of it he would have had to submit to the Church and either reconcile with the Augustinians or find his true vocation in the Church while humbling on Augustine and basic doctrines.

    Second, such was the hate it repelled him from that very Church to work up alternate authorities; thereby accepting to reject her for what she is, Christ’s own complete and only testamentary bestowal.

    For Christ gave all His gifts and fruits to the Church when he commended us to His Mother with John at the foot of the Cross; through whom we have our own Saviour and our Father of the world to come.

    Luther blocked his own growth in spirit and in truth and could only produce more and more of the reductionism he identified with and took to himself as “gospel”.

    Not only does sin not stand still; sin covers up the deceit laid at root. But Luther’s greatest failing to himself and everyone else is, that he died in this rebel condition and went beyond what anyone is permitted to now retrieve.

  7. I’ve been waiting for over 2 years for a response from the Mary worshipers from here and the Fatima Center on Isaiah 42:8 and 1 Timothy 2:5.

    • You mean you want someone else to be the Mother of God?

      You mean you want no-one to be the Mother of God?

      You mean the Virgin Mary the Immaculate Conception Perpetually Virgin and Perpetually Immaculate and raised above all the saints and the angels as Queen over all co-Mediatrix with Christ, is not good enough for God?

      Or just not good enough for you?

      Because you are the one to have said it Mr. Brian?

      Or just because you can say it? “I say it therefore it is” – yes Brian?

    • Again, **nothing** of any substance. Are you afraid to answer my question about dust and salt? It sure seems like it. It seems like you are afraid of all biblical Truth. Maybe because you only understand the thin layer at the top of the ocean of Truth in the Bible.

    • The Catholic Church teaches that Christ is the one mediator of salvation; no argument there. However, Saint Paul also stated, in 1 Timothy 2:1 (KJV): “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, INTERCESSIONS, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.”

      From a Protestant website: “What does the word INTERCESSION mean when used in the Bible? What is the biblical definition of intercession?

      Intercession. Intercession is basically THE ACT OF INTERCEDING BETWEEN TWO OR MORE PARTIES. This could include prayers, petitions, or an entreaty requesting the favor of someone.

      Read more:

      If your understanding of the Bible were correct, which it’s not, Saint Paul could in no way entreat people to make “intercessions” for others because “intercession” and “mediation” are the exact same thing, and, according to your understanding, there is only one mediator: Christ.

      Online definition for “mediation”: Noun. Intervention in a process or relationship; INTERCESSION.

      Christ makes intercession for us. See Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25. The saints in Heaven also intercede for us; the Bible says so.

      The Bible also states that the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us; that is, He is a mediator. If your understanding were correct, the Bible would be in error.

      Romans 8:26, et seq: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh INTERCESSION for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

      Intercession is mediation, period. And Saint Paul states that he wants people to act as mediators, that is, intercessors, because he wants “intercessions” to be offered for all men, by men.

  8. A lot here to consider. Louis Bouyer agreed with the authority of tradition, but also thought Catholic theological culture often undervalued the clarity of Scripture.

    There is also this at First Things, showing even Protestants acknowledging the place of tradition.

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