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Christianity Under Fire

Arguments That Catholics Use

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Arguments That Catholics Use

My experience with Catholics are that they like to redefine terms, ask questions rather than answering the questions you have asked.

This motivated me to pin down Catholic arguments that I find on the Internet and then refute them.

Two folks that seem to offer arguments rather than redefinitions and more questions are Mario Derksen and Brent Arias.

They are all over the Internet.

I want to look at their arguments and others to see if they can hold their own.




The following article is a Catholic critique of another article.
Since the author doesn't see a problem with this I will be critiquing his critique, but I will at least offer the address of the article he is critiquing.

Here is the article, my response will be in red.
Sola Scriptura —Why It Just Won't Work


" In a minute, I will examine some of his arguments and make my case, claiming that Sola Scriptura is a tradition of men which nullifies the Word of God. Before I do this, though, let me simply start with one major point:

If a principle leads to an impossible conclusion, we know the principle must be false.


We will apply this principle to tradition outside of scripture as well.

Mario continues:

I hope that everyone will agree with me on this one. Sola Scriptura claims that the Bible alone is the only infallible authority on matters of faith and morals. So far, so good; but here comes the problem: Since, according to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, I am not allowed to take into consideration any information on faith and morals that's not part of Scripture, I then cannot know--apart from Scripture--just which books belong in Scripture. But here's the rub. How do I even know what Scripture is without appealing to some authority outside of Scripture?


I agree with Mario that ' If a principle leads to an impossible conclusion, we know the principle must be false. '

 It is also true that if what is offered in it's place 'leads to an impossible conclusion', we would know that principle must be false as well.


 If I cannot know aside from Scripture which books belong in Scripture, then I have no way of knowing what is truly God's Written Word, i.e. whether what I'm claiming is Sacred Scripture really is Sacred Scripture. Therefore, all arguments like, "The Bible says so" fall flat. If a Protestant is going to tell me, "The Bible ALONE," then he better be prepared to tell me what the Bible IS!


 I would like to first offer one answer from an article I posted earlier entitled,

What Do We Mean by Sola Scriptura

 He answers this question with a few points but my favorite was his last point which says:

 "In the fourth place, we must see that historically the canon was formed not by popes and councils; these actions simply recognized the emerging consensus of the people of God as they recognized the authentic Scriptures. Indeed, whatever criteria were used by popes and councils to recognize the canon (authorship, style, content, witness of the Spirit, etc.), these same criteria were available to the people of God as a whole."

 What this means to me is that I don't need the word of Popes, bishops or even donkeys to tell me what the scripture is. Jesus says, 'My Sheep Hear my voice' and this means what it appears to mean and that is, what we have in scripture today is what God meant for us and what I know to be his words to me.

 The Catholics and Protestants happen to agree with me on what is scripture.

  'What Do We Mean by Sola Scriptura' goes on,

 "Our Roman opponents, while making much of tradition, will never really define tradition or tell you what its content is. Tradition is a word that can be used in a variety of ways. It can refer to a certain school of understanding the Scriptures, such as the Lutheran tradition. It can refer to traditions—supposedly from the apostles—that are not in the Bible. It can refer to developing traditions in the history of the church that are clearly not ancient in origin. Usually, in the ancient fathers of the church, the word 'tradition' refers to the standard interpretation of the Bible among them. And we Protestants value such traditions." (Ibid)

 I have heard Catholics respond to my questions about Tradition and I am convinced that even they don't completely understand what they are talking about when they refer to Tradition.

 For more answers to Mario's arguments against Sola scriptura and how scripture is determined go to the link above.

 I don't have to go outside scripture to know what scripture is.

 Also presenting an argument against Sola Scriptura from the past doesn't make it a good argument for today.  

So arguing that at one point in the past Christians sometimes used outhouses doesn't prove their necessity today.

 It is through my relation with Christ that I know his words from a hireling. (John 10)

When I read scripture I know who is talking.

 The focus is not who and when the scriptures were compiled because it could have been Jackasses that God used to do that.

The focus should not be who compiled scripture but that if God wants the gospel to get to me, it will.

 Mario defender of Tradition goes on:

 Thus, the Protestant can claim Sola Scriptura all he wants, but he cannot tell me what that Scriptura is, because to do so, he would have to violate the principle of Sola Scriptura! In other words, he cannot say, "Oh, well, the early Christians believed that such-and-such books are Scripture," because by doing that he would be appealing to an outside source of Scripture, namely, Tradition!


Sure He can, read the response above.

 Mario continues:

 Looking at Gary DeMar's arguments

Let's see if Gary DeMar's arguments are valid or not. In his essay "Denying Sola Scriptura," he writes, concerning the Rosary, "If any prayer is to be repeated over and over again, why not use the one Jesus taught His disciples to pray? Why not the Lord's Prayer? When Jesus' disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, He didn't teach them the 'Hail, Mary.'"

As Gary DeMar does not seem to know, the Lord's Prayer is also repeated in the Rosary. It is not that ONLY the Hail Mary's are repeated. No, we pray Our Father's all the time--at Mass, at home, during the Rosary, during Novenas, etc. So this argument falls flat. Now he said that Jesus did not teach us the Hail Mary when He taught us to pray. Well, neither did He teach us the Protestant "Sinner's Prayer" or anything else. If Mr. DeMar's argument were valid, then we should not be allowed to pray anything besides the Lord's Prayer. But surely this is absurd.

Furthermore, the Blessed Virgin Mary was still alive when the Lord Jesus taught His followers the Our Father. Mary can only hear our prayers because she is in eternity now (in Heaven). When she was alive, she was in time, so how could she have heard our prayers? You went to her directly if you wanted to talk to her!


I read the article that Mario is critiquing:

It does not use this argument as a defense of sola scriptura but a defense of scripture.

 I have even questioned the use of the sinners prayer, so this cannot be a valid argument.

 I also don't think that the Lord's prayer was meant to be prayed verbatim, just to be used as a guideline.

 It's really funny that Christ forgot to include all these things concerning Mary.

 Sola Scriptura says, 'that the Bible alone is the only infallible authority on matters of faith and morals' , according to Mario's definition above.

Notice the word, 'Infallible', no other source can justifiably claim infallibility.

 Those that believe Sola Scriptura will probably admit that 'everything in the Bible is true, but not everything that is true is in the Bible' , including this statement from a sola scripturist.

"I am not arguing that all truth is to be found in the Bible, or that the Bible is the only form in which the truth of God has come to His people. I am not arguing that every verse in the Bible is equally clear to every reader. "

However, everything that is necessary to furnish the man of God unto every good work is in scripture, and only scripture is infallible.

The first real argument in favor of Sola Scriptura Mr. DeMar presents in the middle of his entire essay: "Jesus used the Bible to counter the arguments of Satan." Absolutely! But so what? In fact, this argument backfires at the author. Even Satan used Scripture to tempt the LORD HIMSELF! Thus, we can easily see that as long as we know what the Bible SAYS, but not what it MEANS, people can twist it--and they can, as Satan did with Jesus, use it in order to confuse the truth, to interpret something into God's Written Word that is not there. St. Peter specifically warns us against that (see 2 Peter 3:15-16). Thus, we need a guide that can properly interpret the Bible for us (cf. Acts 8:30-31).


This is not an argument for infallible sources outside scripture but for the Bible interpreting itself.

When not completely understanding scripture we don't go outside scripture we go further into scripture to understand.

Going outside of scriptures doesn't work. Just look at the Mormons who also claim  tradition, extrabiblical sources, priesthood and authority.

So if Mario can point to those (Satan and others) misusing scripture then he then is obligated to look at those that misuse Tradition and consider that an argument against Tradition.

I'm just using his own test.

People in all kinds of cults are claiming that we should go to sources outside scripture and look at where that has gotten them.

So the principle that Mario uses above has backfired on him.

Here it is again:

"If a principle leads to an impossible conclusion, we know the principle must be false."

Mario continues:

While Gary DeMar indeed gives us several references to Bible verses that say that Jesus used Scripture as an authority to appeal to (which Catholics have no problem with; we do believe that Scripture is authoritative, after all), he does not often, if at all, mention the verses where Jesus refers to Sacred Tradition as being authoritative: Matthew 2:23 and 23:2, for example.


Tradition was authoritative in Pauls day, and Paul told the Christians to receive the tradition that was from him. Divine tradition that was meant for the ages was inscripturated later.

There is no reason for it not to be.

However, that doesn't automatically:

1) Make all tradition equal to scripture

2) Make oral tradition of then applicable to us today.

2) Prove that divine tradition wasn't eventually part of scripture

3) Prove Catholic or Mormon Tradition hundreds of years later is legitimate.

4) Prove that we still need tradition, anymore than we still need outhouses.

Mario says:

There is another thing that amazes me very much. Gary DeMar asks, "If you want eternal life, what are you to search? The Bible says, 'You search the Scriptures...' (John 5:39)." But so what? When we look at the context, Christ was telling the Jews that their very own Scriptures (the Old Testament) testify to Him, the Lord, so they should search them to see for themselves that He is the Messiah!

It is interesting that sometimes when one is referred to as using the scriptures, Mario's first response is 'So What'

He didn't say to refer to tradition to prove his messiahship. The Jews had the Talmud which Jesus could have referred to but He didn't.

In fact the Rabbi's disagreed on who and how the Messiah would come.

Besides this I don't know what Mario's point is here.

Mario says:

But there's more Mr. DeMar broaches. He claims St. Paul spoke out for Sola Scriptura. He cites Acts 17:11, where the Bereans get praised for examining the Scriptures to verify Paul's proclamation of the fulfillment of the messianic prophecies. Quite true. But do you see anything in there that proves Sola Scriptura


 Did you see any example of the Bereans using oral tradition to test what Paul and Barnabas had to say?

Still, it is not enough to check with scriptures to see if a teaching contradicts scripture.

One must ask whether a particular statement or teaching is taught in scripture.

The Statement that 'Reagan is the AntiChrist'  is not contradicted in scripture.

Scripture doesn't say that a President or Reagan is NOT the antichrist.

Yet according to the argument for Tradition we would have to include this as important and essential information, if asked to.

This is why arguing for tradition outside scripture leads to 'impossible conclusions' as Mario uses in his own test.

Mario goes on:

But, now, let's look at these arguments closely: what was St. Paul doing? He was trying to convince the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah and fulfilled the prophecies about Him in the Old Testament. No wonder the Bereans search the Scriptures--to do just this: to verify if these prophecies about whose fulfillment Paul is speaking are really true, and if Paul was accurately repeating them. But where does it say that the Bible is the only rule of Faith? 


 If you can show that Christians consistently went to scripture not tradition to settle a matter then that is an argument for scripture only.

Mario goes on:

Acts 1:20 is alleged to prove Sola Scriptura; I think even Martin Luther would have laughed about that one. But here goes the quote: "For it is written in the Book of Psalms: 'Let his encampment become desolate, and may no one dwell in it.' And: 'May another take his office.'" This proves the Protestant doctrine of "the Bible alone"? Everything it says is that the replacement of Judas was prophesied! Nothing more. He cites more than just this passage, but they all only say that Scripture is authoritative, and that's that. Mr. DeMar, thus, notes, "In the Book of Acts the appeal is always to Scripture ... The word tradition is nowhere to be found." Well, why do we have so many Scriptural citations in Acts?? Because the Apostles were showing the world how God had fulfilled what had been foretold by the prophets, whose prophecies are in the Old Testament! No one is denying that the Apostles appealed to Scripture! No Catholic is denying that Scripture is authoritative.


Acts 1:20...He is defending the use of scripture, and the fact that the apostles do not refer to tradition/Talmud shows they didn't need tradition.

The Christians consistently used scripture to settle matters.

The interpreter today is not the apostles and the apostles teaching is scripture, and the emphasis in not on apostles today filled with the Holy Ghost but on the Holy Ghost teaching all men. (John 14)

This scripture in Acts One proves that the Catholic Church cannot appeal to apostleship, because here and in 1 Corinthians 15, an apostle was one who saw the resurrected Lord.

What this argument does is argue against the ones that are presently 'calling themselves apostles and are not' and creating these false teachings and calling them tradition.


In his next paragraph, the author admits that there are verses in the Bible that refer to tradition, such as 2 Thessalonians 2:15. What about those?


Notice Paul says: 'Received of Us'


He mentions, "By the time of Jesus' birth this body of written revelation was recognized as being authoritative (Matthew 2:5; Luke 2:22-24). No church council was called to place its imprimatur on these Old Testament books." I agree! The "Old Testament Church" was not infallible, folks. So how did you know for sure what was inspired? Because the Old Testament People of God regarded it as such . . . but you couldn't infallibly know what Scripture was (which is why there was dispute about this between Pharisees and Sadducees, for instance). It was not until the Catholic Church defined the Canon that you could know. Of course, Jesus cited from some of the OT books, so Jesus already declared--implicitly--some of them canonical.


As I mentioned in a quote above, the council only recognized what was already evident to the body of Christ as a whole then and now.


Next, the issue about the Pharisees and their human traditions is brought up. He notes that we Catholics say our traditions are not those traditions Jesus condemns in the Gospels. True. However, now he asks, "But how does one determine whether a tradition is an 'erroneous tradition'?" Admittedly, the question is justified. Well, what did Jesus say? He condemned those traditions that nullified the Word of God. There is not one doctrine the Catholic Church teaches that is contrary to Scripture, if the latter is properly understood. If traditions contradict the Bible, then they are erroneous, for example, like Sola Scriptura or reincarnation.


 It has already been shown how many Catholic traditions contradict scripture

Note that Jesus did not condemn all traditions; only the ones that make void God's Written Word. Sacred Tradition is the teachings and teaching authority of Christ and, later on, the apostles whom he had commissioned to teach (Matt. 28:19-20). How do we know, though, that what has been handed down to the Catholic Church is correct doctrine? Well, we know this because Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church (Matthew 16:18) and that he would send the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth (John 16:13). So we know whether or not a tradition nullifies the Written Word of God by appealing to the Deposit of Faith given to us from Christ through the Apostles down to us now through their successors, the Catholic bishops. That Deposit of Faith tells us what is the true doctrine, just as it tells us what is true Scripture.


It is clear that the 'gates of hell' has prevailed against the Catholic and Mormon church, but that is not because they are the church Christ spoke of.

Paul called 'another gospel' any message that is 'other than that which we have preached.'

In other words, any additions. (Galatians 1)

Since the apostles of scripture never taught what the Catholic church teaches regarding Mary and the sacraments being necessary for salvation, then it an addition and therefore 'another gospel' unto which Paul pronounces an anathema.

It is also interesting that Catholics are fond of quoting Jesus but ignoring Paul.

Mario alleges:

Gary DeMar goes on with another blunder: "The Catholic Church maintains that the appeal must be made to the Church whose authority is based on Scripture plus tradition." The authority of the Catholic Church is not based on the Bible! That would indeed be a self-refuting circle.


 And the statement that the Catholic church is an authority because the Catholic church says so', is circular reasoning.


 We do not base the authority of the Church on the Bible and the authority of the Bible on the authority of the Church. The authority of the Church is based on the Words of Christ, which first were passed on by word of mouth, in Sacred Tradition, and later written down in Sacred Scripture: "And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven" (Matthew 16:18-19).


 Actually, the assembly Christ was talking about in Matthew sixteen was a Jewish assembly, it wasn't until Paul that the church was completely defined.

Read Ephesians 2:20; Acts 2:42ff

Also arguing for oral tradition then doesn't legitimize the argument today.

This doesn't automatically:

1) Make all tradition then equal to scripture

2) Make oral tradition of then applicable to us today.

2) Prove that divine tradition wasn't eventually part of scripture

3) Prove Catholic or Mormon Tradition hundreds of years later is legitimate.

4) Prove that we still need tradition, anymore than we still need outhouses.


Arguing for the need for outhouses in the past doesn't establish their need for today, in light of our grapho/scripture.


Mr. DeMar closes with: "In time, these New Testament doctrines -- traditions -- became inscripturated in the same way Old Testament doctrines became inscripturated," yet he gives no evidence to support these claims. He simply says that all traditions became inscripturated; we are supposed to simply believe him, I suppose. Besides, we find things in the New Testament about the Old Testament that are not recorded in the Old Testament (e.g. the Chair of Moses in Matthew 23:2 or the dispute between St. Michael the Archangel and Satan about the body of Moses mentioned in Jude 1:9), so that refutes his second assertion right there.


Again, arguing the need for outhouses in the past doesn't estblish their need today.

I only make this comparison to show that one cannot argue for one point from the past when clearly we have a better way today.


Interestingly enough, here's another erroneous statement of the author's: "All New Testament books were written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70." But the evidence he cites in support of this claim is a bit meager: none! But even assuming he were right, it still took the Church until the fourth century to come up with an authoritative list of the divinely-inspired books!


This doesn't prove tradition outside of scripture, Why would they leave that out of their letters?

You cannot prove that tradition of that day, that wasn't inscripturated was anything more than personal advice to the Christians of that day.

Lastly, the whole essay is closed by a quote from the "Westminster Confession" that says Sola Scriptura is true. I just hope Mr. DeMar knows that the Bible is an infallible authority, and not the "Westminster Confession"!


So then neither is Catholic Tradition. Just like the catholic creeds they must be tested by scripture and any addition is useless.

Sola scripturists don't argue against commentary they just don't put it on an authoritative and infallible level with scripture.

Baptism for the remission of sins is in one of the Catholic creeds, but Christians don't apply that to Christians today.


                                                BJ Maxwell