Why I am a Catholic
Sola Scriptura and Unity
Unity among Christians was clearly one of the chief concerns of Christ (John 17) and the Apostles (ex. 1 Cor. 1, 10; Eph. 4). This unity is not only a spiritual reality, but a physical one as well, for Jesus teaches that the oneness of the Church would be a witness to the world (Jn. 17:23). I have come to realize that Protestantism, in principle, cannot unify Christians. Sola scriptura effectively makes unity in moral code, doctrinal creed, and liturgical practice impossible, for every appeal to Scripture is an appeal to an interpretation of Scripture, and men interpret the Scriptures in radically different ways. As the attached article, “Jason Reed on Sola Scriptura,” argues, I cannot believe that Christ would set up His church in such a way that would necessarily lead to division and dissent. In fact, the principle of sola scriptura makes answering the question, “What is the Christian view of _______?”, impossible to answer; hence, Christians divide.
To resolve the interpretative problem the protestant has recourse to one of two options: 1) appeal the perspicuity of Scripture or 2) attempt to establish the leaders of the church as the authoritative interpreters of Scripture. The sheer amount of denominations clearly indicates that the former is false (i.e. the Bible is not so clear). The latter cannot escape the initial problem of interpretive authority because the individual believer must decide which church has teaching authority. In order to decide this he must find which church he believes interprets the Scriptures correctly. Hence, the individual is still the authority on the true teaching of the Church. An excellent essay which develops the latent problems in the second attempt to resolve the interpretive mess that is Protestant theology is written by Bryan Cross, PhD. In the essay, Dr. Cross responds to Keith Matthison’s book, The Shape of Sola Scripture, and is well worth a careful reading (here). Further, Michael Liccione, PhD, has a follow up essay that poignantly spells out the fundamental philosophical issues in the debate (here).
One could object that the Catholic convert is in the same predicament as the protestant for he seems to be doing the same thing he accuses the protestant of doing (tu quoque fallacy). That is, interpreting the Scriptures and then deciding that the Catholic Church is interpreting the Scriptures correctly. In short, the Catholic convert is not doing what the protestant does. The Catholic Church does not ask converts to read the Scriptures and decide for themselves if Catholic teaching is true; rather, the Catholic Church makes a historical claim that the interpretive authority they have is clearly evident from a study of Church history. Christ received his authority from the Father, Christ then conferred his authority to Peter and the Apostles, who in turn conferred their authority to their successors on down to the present day. The Catholic stance is not rationalistic for the Church does not attempt to prove it has this authority, (rational proofs for articles of faith are impossible for if proof were possible, faith would be superfluous). Rather, the convert embraces the Catholic teaching by faith for without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). A more in-depth response to this objection can be found here.
Sola Scriptura and the Canon
The principle of sola scriptura cannot give one a list of the authoritative books that belong in the Bible. Protestants attempt to resolve this problem in one of two ways: 1) one could appeal to the testimony of Holy Spirit to confirm which books are canonical or 2) one can attempt to make an argument for the list of books that belong in the Canon. The first is obviously false for there have been many godly, spirit-led Christians throughout history who have disagreed on the Canon so the testimony of the Holy Spirit to the human...
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