Photograph by James Nichols [public domain / Pixabay]
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In one of the Facebook groups I am in, a Protestant stated that “Jesus nowhere explicitly commands to use ashes” and “There’s no Lent in the Bible, either “.
So some Protestants want to quibble about Lent: where every major component is discussed repeatedly in Scripture? I have demonstrated this in lengthy posts about the biblical evidence for Lent and for penitential mortification.
Yet (here comes the double standards) the New Testament never mentions an “altar call”. It never has the typical “sinner’s prayer” of evangelicals. It doesn’t mention church buildings. It never uses the word “Trinity.” It never uses the frequently mentioned evangelical terminology of “personal relationship with Jesus.” It never lists its own books (the biblical canon comes from the authority and proclamations of the Catholic Church and tradition). It never teaches sola Scriptura, or the concept that the Bible is the only infallible source of authority. Yet –oddly enough and passing strange — this is one of the very “pillars” of the Protestant worldview.
Other beliefs or practices not explicitly mentioned in the Bible are Bible studies, separating young people during church services, and grape juice as an element to be consecrated for communion (rather than wine), “asking Jesus into one’s heart,” a “body of believers,” Scripture interpreting Scripture (the more clear helping to understand the less clear), agreeing on “essential” or “primary” doctrines and permitted relativism regarding “non-essential” or “secondary” doctrines, denominations (vs. the biblical “one Church”). Of course, this very idea that one must find explicit biblical proof for every doctrine or it can’t / mustn’t be believed (even with high selectivity or rank inconsistency) is not found in the Bible anywhere, either. It’s (irony of all ironies!) a mere tradition of men.
Some popular Protestant (and also often Catholic) words or phrases that do not appear in the Bible are rapture, invisible church, incarnation, virgin birth, holy communion, Lord’s prayer, Bible, original sin, fall of man, theology, go[ing] to church, grace alone, [total] depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, perseverance of the saints, spirituality, Scripture alone, pray for guidance, pray for direction, spiritual warfare, and sin nature. Faith alone only appears once:
James 2:24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
Protestants manage to believe all these things (or use these words) with no problem whatever. Why? Or, more specifically, why do they believe these things, which are absent from or non-explicit in the Bible, while giving Catholics misery for similar things, or else doctrines and practices with far more indication of various sorts than the things above, that Protestants accept? Why the double standard? Or is it just that the Protestants who sling these sorts of “arguments” about never think about them very deeply, or have never met a Catholic who can show that they are very weak arguments indeed?
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I distinguished above between some things that are not in the Bible at all, in word or concept (like sola Scriptura or the canon), and particular words that aren’t in the Bible, whereas the concepts are.
So, for example, “Trinity” is obviously a biblical concept. I defend it. But if the argument is that “since the word isn’t there [like “Lent”], neither is the concept,” I reject that, because that doesn’t follow.
“Virgin birth” is an example of a teaching that is indeed in the Bible, but not described in the Bible by that particular title or term.
Whether a thing is “biblical” or not is referring to whether the concept or teaching is in th Bible; not necessarily a particular word to describe it. Of the words I listed in italics, many are taught in the Bible and agreed-upon by Catholics. Some are not biblical (like “rapture” or the Calvinist beliefs from “TULIP”).
Also, a doctrine can be “biblical” without explicit mention in the Bible. Some things are implicit / indirect only, or logically deduced from other more explicit passages.