Fellow Patheosi Scott Eric Alt writes:
Many Protestant apologists take issue with a line of argument often used by Catholics, namely, that sola scriptura leads to chaos because there is no ultimate interpretive authority, and so look at all the contrary interpretations out there.
The Protestant counters by pointing out that the Catholic has the exact same problem with Magisterial documents: Catholics running around interpreting them differently.
And that is actually true, from my experience over the last couple years. The Protestant has a point there.
None of which is to say that Catholicism is false. But perhaps Catholic apologists should reconsider the argument, “Sola scriptura leads to chaos and Catholicism brings unity because we have a Magisterium.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t see this unity.
I’ve always agreed with Chesterton that Catholics agree about everything, it’s just everything else they disagree about. The Magisterium exists to maintain the coherence of the Faith. It would be superfluous if there was not a herd of cats called “the faithful” for whom it was necessary to maintain that Faith. Protestantism is the superstition that “the faithful” do not behave like a herd of cats and will naturally maintain the Faith without a Magisterium. Had Jesus thought that, he would never have chosen apostles and guided them to appoint bishops in their stead.
I sometimes suspect that the oneness of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is a lot more like a probability cloud in quantum physics than it is like a Big Rock.