critique of Protestantism part one: faith alone is enough for salvation and Sola Scriptura

Protestant Christianity differs significantly from Orthodox Christianity and from Catholicism.  There are aspects of Protestant Christianity not found in these other, older branches of Christendom.

 

 

As to the Paulist teaching that Christians are saved, sanctified or justified by faith alone, consider Christ’s public ministry.  Read the Gospels.  Christ was not a lone hermit or sage living in a remote cave or deep in the forest or on a distant mountain top.  No, He was out among the people.  He performed many miracles and did many loving, charitable works in His time on Earth.  Think on this.

As Protestants look to Scripture, let me suggest you read the following verses from the letter of James, and think on them.

Read James, Chapter One, verses 22 – 23.  Read James, Chapter Two, verses 14 through 26.

 

 

As for Sola Scriptura, sole reliance on the Bible, let me ask the reader to ponder: was the Bible intended to be the sole source of answers or guidance for Christians?  If so, is there a need for Christian churches (and literally the thousands of denominations that we see today)?

One may rightly wonder if there could have been a Protestant “Reformation” without the invention some decades earlier of the printing press in Europe.  The Bible would not have been widely available for the relatively few literate individuals of the time to read.

One of the problems I have with (at least some, if not many) Protestants is how they will cherry pick verses from the Bible and even take these out of context to justify their actions.  Alternatively, there are times when Protestants will tell me that certain acts are not expressly forbidden in Scripture and thus they are not troubled by these acts.  This is terribly disturbing when it comes to the life issues.  So, the Bible does not explicitly and specifically condemn abortifacient methods of birth control – thus, these devices (such as the IUD) and regimens are morally licit?  I think not.

What seems not to cross the minds of some Protestants is that we can be expected to use our God-given reasoning ability to seek the truth and come to moral conclusions.  (It is important here to avoid mental sloth.)  The 5th Commandment condemns murder (it does not say “thou shalt not kill” as that would forbid acts of individual self-defense, societal self-defense in capital punishment for capital murderers, and just wars of national self-defense).  If you accept that human life begins at conception (also known as fertilization), then intentional acts to “terminate” that innocent human life do constitute acts of murder.

It is hardly surprising that the Bible would be silent on many things.  Confusion and doubt would have arisen among the people in earlier times if the Bible spoke of things not to be invented for millennia.  The higher ethical principles taught in the Christian Bible can be used to deduce the morality of our actions in the modern world.  The Bible, nor any verses in it, should not be used to rationalize or justify sinful, immoral actions and behavior.

moral of this essay

Protestants be careful to make sure you live morally.  Faith without moral living and without loving actions is not enough for salvation.  Look to the Bible for guidance, yes, but do not twist the verses in the Bible to suit your own desires or deceive yourself into thinking that what you want is certainly permissible simply because the Bible does not explicitly condemn it.  Look to the spirit of the law in addition to the letter of the law.

copyright 2017 – larrysmusings.com

18 comments

  1. Great post. The same applies to the issue of usury. It was the “protest”-ants who justified it, when usury, charging interest on a loan (that is, interest itself, not just excessive interest) is against the spirit of the Law of God, that is, to love.

    Protestants will typically point out that the catholic church became corrupt and caught up with man-made traditions. That is true. But many non-catholic denominations, including the Anglicans and Protestant and also Evangelical denominations have fallen into such error.

    I just think of this this way: the Catholic church used to be holy, but it became apostate. This can happen to any other church too, whether it be catholic, methodist, baptist or evangelical.

      1. I humbly suggest that I believe it fell into man-made traditions, including belief in papal perfection, and marian worship.

        Having said that, I believe there are true born-again Christians who attend catholic churches.

        Just wondering, are you a catholic?

      2. Marian worship is not correct. Catholics revere and honor Mary, Jesus’ mother. They do not “worship” Mary.

        There are some “manmade” rules propagated by the Catholic Church that are indeed problematical. The Church took an authoritarian, legalistic approach over the centuries and there have been abuses of its authority. What can we expect from institutions run by men, mere mortals? When we look at Protestantism, we see thousands of denominations that do not speak with one voice and are all over the board on moral issues. I guess “believers” can shop around, as many do, for what suits them and to hell with any moral absolutes along the way.

        Born again, eh? Does that mean that some Christians actually get around to living their faith instead of merely giving lip service to it?

  2. Why can’t people of faith just simply state why they believe what they believe? If you truly have faith in what you believe there would be no need to attack other faiths or other versions of your own faith. If you explain what you believe and others can see that it is true then they will come to believe as you do. This only turns people away.

      1. That is making the assumtion that what you follow is the original. At the time of Christs death there were many different Christian sects with vary different ideas of who and what Christ was and what his relationship to god was. These different sects and their texts were hunted down by the Roman Catholic church and destroyed. If it wasnt for this we would have even more different Christian denominations today. The point here is that “original” is just a matter of opinion.

      2. “The point here is that “original” is just a matter of opinion”

        Or, perhaps it is a matter of more rigorous historical research. There exists a similar dilemma for Buddhists. There were stories or parables (Jataka) attributed to the Buddha that only came into circulation centuries after his death.

      3. It is correct that the Jataka (or birth stories) are thought to have been written after the Buddhas death but that is not unusual because ALL the Buddhist scriptures were written well after the Buddhas death. All the early scriptures were originally passed on orally from memory. Although some Buddhist sects take the Jataka literally others do not. The difference here is that the different Buddhist denominations do not see each other as enemies or that one is the oldest or more correct than the others. They are just seen as different paths to the same goal. There are a few exceptions of course but not many.

        While Catholics may see themselves as the “original” form of Christianity through their relationship with Peter, I do not think that historians agree.

        After the discovery of the Dead sea and Nag Hamadi scrolls it was clear that there was a great diversity in Christian thought at the time of Christ’s death. Otherwise why did the Roman Catholics at the council of Niceia have to proclaim the Niceian creed to establish their view of the trinity? It was because there was so many veiws of what and how the trinity was made up.

      4. Contrasting Buddhism and Christianity here: the oldest written accounts of the Gospels (that have been found) have been dated to around 60 A.D. – which means that these could have been and likely were written by witnesses to the events. Whereas you state that the Buddhist Scriptures (in Pali) were written down well after (centuries) after Buddha’s death. That can be a problem as oral tradition can lead to (let us say) distortions (which occurred in the Old Testament of the Bible). It strains credulity to believe that the early Christians were willing to die for a made up story. If they knew it was a false narrative, why were so many accepting the risks in the early centuries of Roman persecutions (where many Christians were exiled, imprisoned, tortured and killed for adhering to this new religion)?

        You are free to believe as you wish as I have no interest in trying to change your take on things. I will say this about the Council of Nicea – and I have said this before to others as well – it did not make the dogmas of the faith. Nicea reaffirmed what had been believed from New Testament times. The principal reason for the Council was to combat the spreading heresy of the Jew, Arias, who denied Christ’s divinity.

        Now, I am moving on to other topics. Best wishes.

      5. Just to be clear I never compared Buddhism to Christianity. I have only been discussing how different Christian groups treat and think of each other. So nothing I have said was condeming Christianity as a whole, just that there was a diversity in Christian thought at the time of Christs death and a battle ever since over which one is the “truest” and most original.

        The Buddhas teaching that were wrtten down around the time of Christ (the Buddha lived some 500 years before Christ) are not claimed to be divine. They are meant simply to be a guide. The Buddha taught that we should question everything even his own teachings and not accept anything as true unless we can prove it to ourselves. So Buddhist have faith but it is a faith built from insight developed through direct experience not just the wrtten word.

        Thanks again for having this discussion with me. Interfaith discussions could do a lot to sow the seeds of peace in the world.

      6. There are good insights in your comment. Yes, as they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Experience is very important. For too many Christians, religious experience is limited to an hour or two each week of worship and fellowship supplemented by a little Bible reading. Christians really need to live their faith.

        To clarify, it was probably me who made the comparisons between Christianity and Buddhism. Since undergrad days many years ago, I have been somewhat of a student of religions. Most of my reading was on Hinduism or books by Indian authors (Sri Aurobindo, Radhakrishnan and Srila Prabhupada), but I did read some on Buddhism and on Zen (or Ch’an) Buddhism (Alan Watts and Suzuki and others).

        Best wishes to you.

      7. The point that I am trying to make is that any claim to originality or the most true is dubious at best. Ask anyone on the street what is Christ’s birthday and they will almost certainly say December 25th. We in the west have the long standing tradition of Christmas being on the 25th of December. Ask any scholar of student of history and they will tell you that December 25th is almost certainly not Christ’s birthday. Since the idea that Peter started the Catholic church is a tradition and not a historical fact it cannot be used to say that Catholic church is the original. Tradition can be mistaken or flawed.

        If you notice I have not made any claim against Christianity of any sort not being true. Having this discussion serves two things. One is that almost all Christian denominations claim to be the true church. I dont think from a historical or a theological perspective any of them can make that claim. Secondly you would not believe how many blogs I have come across from people in different Christian denominations making the same claim. They make the claim of being the true church meanwhile attacking all their Christian brothers. I do not understand why Christians feel the need to do this.

        It just seems to be a better idea to all accept each other as brothers in Christ and agree to differ on who is the original or most true. The simple truth is at this point in history none of you can make that claim with any historical or theological proof.

      8. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. We do agree on some things. Yes, it is hard to wrap one’s mind around the fact there are something like 28,000 or so different denominations of Christianity (admittedly some are different from each other by splitting hairs). How can Christ’s teachings be sliced and diced this many ways? And, yes, many of these Christians condemn their fellow Christians.

        I had thought and do believe that Jesus founded the religion (or church if you will), not (St.) Peter. As to Jesus’ actual birthday, that detail is not material to His teachings. And, historically, the Protestant denominations did not exist prior to the early 16th century. The Greek Orthodox Church broke away from the Catholic Church in 1054 although there had been tension and stresses between Rome and Constantinople for centuries prior to this date. The Catholic Church was likely more responsible for this break with its demands on many things including its fanatic condemnation of the married priests of the eastern Church. There is a good case for the Catholic Church being the original Christian Church if you objectively look at the history. That said, I have been critical of the Catholic Church’s distortions and twisting of the teachings of Jesus and adding on many moral prohibitions that are not authentically Christian but really stem from ancient pagan schools of thought (a good example is the sexual pessimism (towards the married state) and hatred of pleasure that entered the Church’s thinking and teachings in the 4th century).

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