Catholics R More Biblical Than Protestants? (Dialogue)

Catholics R More Biblical Than Protestants? (Dialogue) July 16, 2018

This is always a fun Catholic-Protestant discussion to have (i.e., if tempers are moderated and ecumenical unity isn’t forgotten!). The words of Dustin Buck Lattimore (Protestant) will be in blue.


I’ve called this “the Protestant quest for uncertainty.” Protestants manage to be uncertain about (and to actually glory in being uncertain about) any number of supposedly “secondary” doctrines which the Bible (usually Paul) teaches quite clearly and definitively indeed.

And Roman Catholics are quite certain on several doctrines the Bible says little or nothing about. Catholic over-certainty? :-)

You guys do the same. You’re quite certain about the biblical canon (which you get right, minus seven books), and there is absolutely nothing about that in Scripture.

There is not one iota of proof in the Bible for one of your pillars: sola Scriptura. The Bible never states that only Scripture is the infallible authority and rule of faith, and that the Church and tradition are not. It teaches that all three are authoritative.

Lastly, the Bible never states that all doctrines must be explicitly in the Bible, or else they must be disbelieved. Therefore, that notion is a mere tradition of men; yet it is trotted out as if it had the authority of Holy Scripture.

This seems like an endless tu quoque battle.

The absence of the canon is unarguable. And the absence of the principle in the Bible that all doctrines must be explicitly in the Bible, or else they must be disbelieved, is also unarguable.

Again, the tu quoque of “your theology is not in the Bible” does nothing to deflect from the fact that neither is most of yours.

That’s simply untrue, and a gross exaggeration of alleged lack of biblical support for Catholicism.

I grant that y’all don’t play by the same Sola Scriptura rules as us, but I would think it problematic that many Roman Catholic distinctives are only tangentially tied to Scripture or not at all.

This is a lot less true than people think. I’ve been able to find some amount of biblical substantiation for every Catholic doctrine. Some are indirect, deductive, or analogical or plausible-only, but I still come up with something. This is the material sufficiency of Scripture.

I’ve made Bible-only arguments for (to offer just a few examples) the Assumption, Immaculate Conception, Mary’s perpetual virginity, veneration of Mary, Marian apparitions, Mary Mediatrix, purgatory, and the papacy.

Catholic doctrines are also perfectly harmonious with what is in Scripture. You appear to grant that very thing by stating, “If it’s not forbidden/contradicted by the Bible, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to any doctrinal proposition grounded in Scripture”.

The only card the Catholic has to play is to undermine the Protestant’s faith in Sola Scriptura, because no appeal to history or attempt to ground Roman Catholic doctrines in Scripture will convince him. 

Usually not, precisely because Protestants (generalizing) are inculcated with the false notion of the necessity of explicit biblical proof of everything, and very often have a very poor understanding or comprehension of indirect, deductive, analogical or plausible-only biblical arguments.

To clarify, I’m not a strict restorationist Church of Christ type when it comes to Sola Scriptura (“if it’s not EXPLICITLY in the Bible, we don’t do it”). I think of it more as “If it’s not forbidden/contradicted by the Bible, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to any doctrinal proposition grounded in Scripture” (and I give lots of leeway here: some have a ton of proof texts, some just jive with the general principles of Scripture).

Which is why I appreciate your attempts to ground Roman Catholic particulars in Scripture (though I remain, obviously, unconvinced).

Glad to hear that and thanks for saying it.

You may be Catholic now, but you still smack of evangelical Protestantism (which isn’t a bad thing!).

All that to say, I probably just perfectly embodied what you are criticizing, though I would characterize it less as a “quest for uncertainty” and more as a quest to separate non-negotiables from the adiaphorous.

I retain whatever is not contradictory to Catholicism (which is much), and various emphases (such as on the Bible). Argument from the Bible itself, however, is not strictly a “Protestant thing” at all. All Christian thinkers do that. Nothing cites more Scripture than a papal encyclical or document from an ecumenical council.


(originally 5-3-17 on Facebook)

Photo credit: Myriams-Fotos (12-30-16) [Pixabay / CC0 Creative Commons license]


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