Criticism of Protestantism

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Major Protestant orientations and their relationships to each other.

Criticism of Protestantism covers critiques and questions raised about Protestantism, the movement based on Martin Luther's Reformation principles of 1517. While critics praise Protestantism's Christ-centered and Bible-centered faith, Protestantism is faced with criticism from different sources and based on different grounds. Criticisms come mainly from Catholic and Orthodox sources, although Protestant denominations have also engaged in self-critique and criticized one another.[1]

The biblical critique, as per Protestant Bible scholars who became Catholic such as Scott Hahn, asserts that the doctrines of Protestantism, even in its foundational principles, are unbiblical and unfaithful to the practices and beliefs of the Church of the Bible. Sola scriptura of the Lutheran and Reformed branches[2] is "self-refuting", according to critics, because the Bible as to its canon and nature was determined by Catholic synods, one of them the Council of Rome headed by Pope Damasus in 382 A.D. The Bible presupposes the Church and its tradition, never mentions the exclusivity of the authority of Scripture nor the canon of Scripture, and teaches that "the Church", not the Bible, "is the pillar and the bulwark of the truth" (1 Tm 3:15). Since the Bible is infallible, its originator, the Catholic Church, should with greater reason also be infallible. Also, sola scriptura is contradicted by the Bible teaching about other sources of revealed truth such as tradition "by word of mouth" (2 Thes 2:15), spoken word, and a Council.

While Catholic tradition agrees with Protestantism that faith, not works, is necessary for "initial" justification, Catholics are joined by leading contemporary Protestant Scholars such as N.T. Wright and by Methodists in teaching that faith with works, not sola fide, faith alone, are necessary for "final" justification at death.[3] Also the Bible teaches: "a man is justified by works not by faith alone" (Jas 2:24). Critics also challenge the historicity of the Great Apostasy, a premise of the Reformation, given the "total silence" in the historical accounts, and its biblical foundation given Jesus' promises of continual divine presence in his Church which the Bible refers to as his body, inseparable from him, and the historically verified existence of unbroken apostolic succession in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches based on the biblical principle of "his office (episkopen) let another take" (Ps 109:8; Acts 1:20).

In view of the above, Protestantism is suffering from the lack of other important saving realities attested to by the Bible and the practices of the early Christians: Jesus' full presence in the Eucharist as "living bread" (Jn 6:53-58) and the anamnesis or memorial sacrifice of the Mass (Lk 22:19; 1 Cor 11:24), power to "forgive sins" (Jn 20:23), and the other five sacraments celebrated by validated successors of the Apostles, "the keys of the kingdom" of "the Rock", St. Peter (and his successors) (Mt 16:18-19), the visible Church of the "body of Christ" (1 Cor 12:12,27), "intercessions" of Mary and the saints (1 Tm 2), belief in "sins forgiven in the age to come" or purgatory (Mt 12:32), joyful redemptive suffering (Col 1:24), and the harmony of reason with faith to know God who is Logos or Reason (Jn 1:1) and the intelligible reality he created, according to critics.

The historical, sociological and ecclesiological critique points to the disparity of Protestantism with early Christian practices and the teachings of the Church Fathers, the 16th century foundation of Protestantism, the strong political and cultural factors behind the Reformation, the problematic moral and psychological quality of its founders, its negative "protesting" revolt against established authority, and its fragmentation and doctrinal contradictions which "sees schism as proper and unity as unnatural", in the words of Francis Beckwith, former President of the Evangelical Theological Society who reverted to Catholicism. This fragmentation, which Protestants themselves criticize, is in contrast to the unity of the Bible Church described as "united in the same mind and same judgement" (1 Cor 1:10), and means that each autonomous Protestant denomination, with its unique truth claims, has limited numbers concentrated in one geographical area vis-a-vis world population, a situation at variance with the universal scope of Christ's one Church with his unique claim as "the Truth". (Jn 14:6)

Historical criticism also assert that starting in 1930, most Protestant groups became unfaithful to the unanimously strong Christian condemnation of contraception up to that time, a doctrinal "revolution" which led to, according to Baptist intellectual leader, Albert Mohler, the decadent sexual revolution with its pleasure-seeking non-procreative sex. Historian Brad Stephan Gregory in The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society, a multi-awarded book published by Harvard University Press traced today's hyperplural, relativistic, morally subjectivistic, permissive, individualistic, consumerist, state-controlled, morality and religion free, secularized society to the Reformation's giving sole authority to the Bible that can be individually interpreted, its state-controlled churches, faith-alone salvation without need for human cooperation, and Protestantism's divergent moral teachings. Protestant scholars, supported by leading modern scholars, also say that Protestants brought about the creation of the black legend or false propaganda against Catholics, in contravention of the commandment "Thou shalt not bear false witness."[4] One of the greatest modern historians, Fernand Braudel, asserted that the Protestant work ethic "is clearly false."[5]

Sources of criticism[edit]

Painting of Martin Luther in monk's garb preaching and gesturing while a boy nails the Ninety-Five Theses to the door before a crowd
Luther's posting of the Ninety-five Theses: "The Protestant Reformation began when a Catholic monk rediscovered a Catholic doctrine in a Catholic book." (Peter Kreeft)

While Catholic leaders have been seeing the positive side of the founder of Protestantism, Martin Luther, calling him "thoroughly Christocentric"[6] and saying that his intention was "to renew the Church and not to divide it",[7] Catholic doctrine views Protestantism as "suffering from defects", not possessing the fullness of truth[8] and lacking "the fullness of the means of salvation".[9] A number of Protestant converts to Catholicism through the centuries have written their criticism of Protestantism in explaining their conversion.

A key critic but also a supporter, Louis Bouyer, a former Lutheran minister turned Catholic priest and scholar who wrote an in-depth study, The Spirit of Protestantism, told Catholics: "Protestantism isn't as antithetical to the Catholic Faith as you suppose. It has positive principles, as well as negative ones. Its positive principles, properly understood, belong to the Catholic Tradition."

Orthodox Christians also criticize Protestantism in its lack of a visible church,[10] and in its adherence to some of the aspects of Western Christianity including Roman Catholicism.[11]

Protestants also engage in self-criticism, a special target of which is the fragmentation of Protestant denominations.[1] In addition, due to the fact that Protestantism is not a monolithic faith tradition, some Protestant denominations criticize the beliefs of other Protestant denominations. For example, the Reformed Churches criticize the Methodist Churches for the latter denomination's belief in the doctrine of unlimited atonement,[12] in a long-term debate between Calvinists and Arminians.

Biblical critique[edit]

Starting in the late 1980s, a series of key conversions from Protestantism to Catholicism were based on arguments that Protestantism is unbiblical. This movement was led, among others, by Presbyterian biblical scholar Scott Hahn and his wife Kimberly, whose conversion story is told in Rome Sweet Home and later in audio form called The Tape, as it is considered as "the most widely distributed Catholic audiotape of all time".[13][14] Other conversion stories critical of Protestantism were told in the two volumes of Surprised by Truth, and are presented regularly in Coming Home Network.[15] Also, a substantial number of biblical argumentation is found in websites such as,[16],[17] and[18]

Gutenberg Catholic Bible, the first major book printed (1454 or 55)

While Protestantism is praised by Pope Francis as Bible-centered and Protestantism accepts the Bible as sole or first authority,[19] being "God-breathed and useful for teaching and correcting in righteousness" (1 Tim 3:16), it deliberately disregards specific Biblical passages and does not take them literally as God's word, according to critics. As explained by John Salsa, among the foremost reasons why ex-Protestants find Protestantism unbiblical, and Catholicism biblical are: (1) Authority: the giving of the keys of the Kingdom to Peter in Matthew 16:18-19; (2) Church, and not the bible, as "the pillar and bulwark of the truth" in 1 Timothy 3:15; (3) Tradition: the command of Paul to "hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" in 2 Thessalonians 2:15; (4) "Baptism now saves you", in 1 Peter 3:21 vs faith alone; (5) Confession: "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven" in John 20:23; (6) Eucharist:"my flesh is food indeed" and "Will you also go away?" in John 6:53-58, 66-67; (7) Eucharist: "Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord" in 1 Corinthians 11:27 to show that Jesus was not speaking symbolically; (8) Anointing of the sick with forgiveness of sins in James 5:14-15; (9) Suffering: "I complete what is lacking in Christ's affliction in Colossians 1:24; (10) Justification not by faith alone: "a man is justified by works and not by faith alone" in James 2:24.[20][21]

Criticism of foundational principles[edit]

Sola scriptura[edit]

Baptism of Christ. Christianity is a religion of the Word of God and not of a book. (Benedict XVI)

Sola scriptura, originated by the Lutheran Churches and Reformed Churches during the Reformation,[2] is a formal principle of many key Protestant Christian denominations. Baptist Churches state that sola scriptura is self-authenticating and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine.

In contrast, the Anglican Communion and the Methodist Church uphold the doctrine of prima scriptura, which holds that Sacred Tradition, Reason and Experience are sources of Christian dogma, but are subordinate to Sacred Scripture, which is the primary authority.[22][23]

Some Catholic theologians like Scott Hahn and Yves Congar say that prima scriptura is part of Catholic thought, with the latter referring to the "normative primacy of Scripture".[24] Without getting involved in this issue, the official teaching, according to Benedict XVI, states: "while in the Church we greatly venerate the sacred Scriptures, the Christian faith is not a 'religion of the book': Christianity is the 'religion of the word of God'...together with the Church’s living Tradition, [Scripture] constitutes the supreme rule of faith."[25]

Bible as Catholic book[edit]

Luther himself said that "We are compelled to concede to the Papists that they have the Word of God, that we have received It from them, and that without them we should have no knowledge of It at all."[26] "A council probably held at Rome in 382 under St. [Pope] Damasus", states The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, "gave a complete list of the canonical books of both the Old Testament and the New Testament".[27]

Former Protestant Jimmy Akin asserted that the "Bible-only" position was self-refuting as the Bible itself does not prescribe the official list or canon of the Bible books, and he had to trust the Catholic church and its claim to infallibility in its choice of books. Since there was a debate in the early Church on the authorship and canonical status of a number of New Testament books (e.g., Hebrews, Revelation, James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and Jude) and the Church decided which belonged to the canon, this meant that the Protestant foundational doctrine on the very nature of Scripture was dependent on the Church. Thus, if the Bible is infallible, then the Church must be infallible and can do other infallible actions, a doctrine that Protestants deny.[28] Peter Kreeft explains that "a cause [in this case, the Church] can never be less than its effect [the Bible].... If the Church has no divine inspiration and no infallibility, no divine authority, then neither can the New Testament".[29] He offered a synthesis by stating, "the Protestant Reformation began when a Catholic monk rediscovered a Catholic doctrine in a Catholic book."[30]

Pope Damasus, the Council of Rome, and other Catholic Synods of the 4th century determined the canon of the Bible

Bible, church and tradition[edit]

Critics argue that New Testament books were written during a period that starts two decades after the death of Jesus Christ, and thus the Church precedes the Bible, and "the Bible presupposes the Church". The New Testament is not a building manual per se but a description of a community with established policies and practices of devotion, structures of authority and decision-making, says Scott Hahn.[31] Jesus did not write anything nor command his disciples to write, but "to do this" in reference to the Eucharist. The above also implies that the early Christians did not have a Bible for their salvation, and that it was through the aid of oral tradition that the present Bible was written. Both Catholic and Protestant theologians explain the importance and reliability of oral tradition as the basis of the Bible, since oral tradition was a self-correcting effort of an entire community adept at memorization, striving to faithfully keep the most important event and truths that it knows.[32] Above all, the community was supported by the Holy Spirit who "leads to all truth". St. Paul spoke about a series of faithful passing on of teaching, telling Timothy about entrusting the spoken truths he himself "heard" to faithful men who in turn will teach them: "[W]hat you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2).

Critics also argue that the Bible itself emphasizes that Christians should faithfully adhere to oral tradition that comes from the Apostles, and not just to scripture. St. Paul teaches: Stand firm and hold to the traditions (paradosis) which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth (dia logos) or by letter. (2 Thessalonians 2:15; italics added)

Unbiblical doctrine[edit]

According to Dave Armstrong, a former nondenominational Christian, "no biblical passage teaches that Scripture is the formal authority or rule of faith in isolation from the Church and Tradition. Sola scriptura can't even be deduced from implicit passages."[33] The relevance of Timothy 3:16 regarding all scripture being inspired and profitable is criticized since it does not categorically state that scripture is the only one with these qualities and does not preclude others from having these qualities.[34]

The Twelve Apostles. At the Council of Jerusalem, the Apostles pronounced right doctrine on Judaic practices

Armstrong lists nine other "refutations" to Sola Scriptura such as "The Word of God refers to oral teaching also", quoting St. Paul's saying "the word of God which you heard from us", (1 Thessalonians 2:2-13), the apostles exercised authority at the Council of Jerusalem, "Paul casually assumes that his passed-down tradition Is infallible and binding", referring to St. Paul's words "avoid those in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught" (Rom. 16:17), and Sola Scriptura is a fallacious circular reasoning, the conclusion is the same as the premise.

Protestant traditional defense states that the Bible is "a fallible collection of infallible documents".[14] Critics say that this leaves the Christian readers uncertain on whether they are reading a falsehood or the truth.[14] Thus they refer to Biblical evidence wherein "God's authoritative Word is to be found in the Church: her Tradition (2 Th 2:15; 3:6) as well as her preaching and teaching (1 Pet 1:25; 2 Pet 1:20-21; Mt 18:17)," and that there needs to be thinking and authorized interpreter, given that the Bible itself warned "that it contains difficult and confusing information which is capable of (if not prone to) being twisted into all sorts of fanciful and false interpretations (2 Peter 3:16)".[35]

Critics of Protestantism argue that since God wanted all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, he set up authorities to provide authoritative interpretation that would prevent false interpretations that can mislead his flock. They refer to the passage that give Peter the keys of the kingdom, which according to Scott Hahn, is understood by the Jews who heard Jesus' conferral as the powers of the primer minister of the King and chief teacher of the kingdom, based on the text of Isaiah 22:22 where the king grants full authority to a chief steward.[36][37]

Moreover, some ex-Protestants have expressed their anxiety over the salvation and Christianization of millions of illiterate people in the world, who are unable to draw from scriptures.[38] The Bible itself says "faith comes from hearing". (Rom 10:17)

Justification by faith alone and grace alone[edit]

Sola fide for final justification as unbiblical[edit]

Last Judgement. Jesus said: Whatever you did not do to one of the least of these, you did not do to me. And they will go away into eternal punishment. (Mt 25:45-46)

At "the crux of the disputes" is the doctrine on justification[39] and sola fide is the principle on which Protestantism "stands or falls", as per Luther.

Contrary to some Protestant and Catholic perception, the immediate official Catholic response to the Reformation, the Council of Trent, affirmed in 1547 the foundational importance of faith as part of its doctrinal tradition, "we are therefore considered to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation, and the root of all Justification...none of those things which precede justification --whether faith or works-- merit the grace itself of justification."[40] Thus, in 1999 the Catholic Church and the Lutherans (later joined by the Methodists) have issued Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, showing "a common understanding" of justification: "By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works."

Although an important step forward in the work of ecumenism, the declaration continues to show the differences of thought. Lutherans continue to uphold Luther's doctrine that "human beings are incapable of cooperating in their salvation.... God justifies sinners in faith alone (sola fide)."[41]

While Catholics and other Protestant traditions agree with Luther and Calvin that faith and not works is necessary for initial justification,[42] the transition from sin to righteousness, Catholics are joined by leading contemporary Protestant Scholars and by Methodists in teaching that faith with works, not faith alone, are necessary for final justification at death. Eminent Protestant scholars such as James Dunn and N. T. Wright in a movement called New Perspective on Paul are now agreeing with the Catholic and Methodist teaching that Luther and Calvin were mistaken as regards their teaching on St. Paul's concept of final justification.

St. James the Apostle wrote "a man is justified by works not by faith alone" (James 2:24)

N.T. Wright says: "Paul, in company with mainstream second-Temple Judaism, affirms that God’s final judgment will be in accordance with the entirety of a life led — in accordance, in other words, with works.”[3] This is in accordance with what Jesus teaches about the day of judgement regarding those who say "Lord, Lord" but do not do God's will and are told to depart, (Mt 17:21-22) and that the eternal fate of heaven and hell depends on doing or not doing "to one of the least of my brethren" as these means doing or not doing "to me." (Mt 25)

These Protestant scholars also show that Paul's teaching on "a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law", (Rom 3:28) which Protestants use to de-emphasize works, refer to the ceremonial rites peculiar to Judaism as the meaning of the "works of the law (Torah)."[43]

The Methodist Churches have always emphasized that ordinarily, both faith and good works play a role in salvation; in particular, the works of piety and the works of mercy, in Wesleyan-Arminian theology, are "indispensible for our sanctification".[44] Bishop Scott J. Jones in United Methodist Doctrine says that faith is necessary to salvation unconditionally, since the good thief was saved even though he didn't have time to do any good works. Good works are necessary only conditionally, that is if there is time and opportunity, which is true for the vast majority.

Scripture Catholic also gives dozens of biblical texts to show that justification is an inner change of the person (an infusion of grace). It is not just a declaration by God (an external imputation); justification is ongoing (not a one-time event); and Jesus and Apostles teach that works are necessary for justification.[45]

Christ cleansing a leper. Free will is so weakened, that no one can do good unless by the grace of the divine mercy, (Council of Orange, 529 A.D.)

Critics also argue that (1) sola fide (only faith and no other factor saves) does not appear in the Bible, (2) the only time the phrase appears in the Bible, it is expressly denied: "a man is justified by works and not by faith alone," (James 2:24), (3) Luther inserted the word "alone" in his German translation, although the word was not in the Greek original, (4) Paul does teach salvation by faith without implying the exclusivity of "only", but in other parts he stresses, "the only thing that counts is faith working, or expressing itself, (energeo) through love." (Gal 5:6)[46][47]

Some Protestants are criticized for using the salvation of the good thief as a proof of sola fide, when the good thief performed good works by rebuking the other thief for mocking Jesus, admitting that "we are condemned justly", and affirming the truth of Jesus, "this man has done nothing wrong".[48][49]

Critics argue that the Protestant faith declaration of "accepting Christ as savior" is not found in the Bible. They also state that the Bible teaches that "baptism now saves you" (1 Peter 3:20-21)[50] and that "being born again" is interpreted by the following verse about "being baptized by water and the Spirit".

Human cooperation with prevenient grace[edit]

Bishop Robert Barron said that "The single most significant contribution of Martin Luther and those who followed in his theological path was the stress on the primacy of grace", protesting against "Pelagianism, or the illusion of auto-salvation".

But contrary to some Protestant thinking, according to former Baptist minister Deal Hudson, "The constant teaching of the Catholic Church throughout the ages has been that salvation is bestowed alone by God's grace. This was not the singular discovery of the Reformation."[51][52]

Council of Trent: the beginning of Justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ

The Council of Orange in 529 AD taught that "through sin of the first man, the free will is so weakened and warped, that no one thereafter good for the sake of God, unless moved, previously, by the grace of the divine every good work we do, it is not we who have the initiative, aided, subsequently, by the mercy of God, but that he begins by inspiring faith and love towards him, without any prior merit of ours."[53]

Thus, the Council of Trent taught "the beginning of Justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ." Prevenient comes from pre-venire, which means "comes or goes before", and is defined as "preceding in order". Louis Bouyer, author of the Spirit of Protestantism, says that the Council of Trent "rules out a parallel action on the part of God and man, a sort of ‘synergism', where man contributes, in the work of salvation, something, however slight, independent of grace. ... Man freely cooperates in salvation, but his free cooperation is itself the result of grace."[54] And so Benedict XVI said in 2006, that "it is to God and his grace alone that we owe what we are as Christians."[55]

Still, Catholic doctrine counters the Protestant teaching that "human beings are incapable of cooperating in their salvation". As the Catholic Catechism states: "The divine initiative in the work of grace precedes, prepares, and elicits the free response of man. Grace responds to the deepest yearnings of human freedom, calls freedom to cooperate with it, and perfects freedom." Thus, Bishop Barron said that "because of the unique manner in which God relates to creation, this human cooperation doesn’t compromise the absolute primacy of the divine love", as he said is shown in Isaiah 26:12: "Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us."[56]

Justified: dead to sin, alive in Christ[edit]

The Marriage at Cana. The New Covenant means the Catholic Church is Christ's worldwide family (Scott Hahn)

The Vatican's note in response to the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification said that the Protestant formula "at the same time righteous and sinner" ... is not acceptable: "In baptism everything that is really sin is taken away, and so, in those who are born anew there is nothing that is hateful to God. It follows that the concupiscence [disordered desire] that remains in the baptised is not, properly speaking, sin."[57]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church's article on Justification quotes the letter to the Romans in its explanation:

The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us "the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ" and through Baptism. (Rom 3:22. Cf. 6:3-4.) "But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.... So you also must consider yourselves as dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." ( Rom 6:8-11)

New Covenant and divine sonship[edit]

Scott Hahn also says that Protestantism misses the deepest biblical meaning of justification in the New Covenant, since Jesus didn't just save us from sin, but also saved us for divine sonship. The covenants narrated in the Bible are defined as sacred kinship bonds that brought the chosen people into a family relationship that developed by stages in each covenant, and "the new covenant" established by Jesus Christ is the definitive establishment of a worldwide family.

Rylands 52: Original New Testament was written in Greek

Jesus and the apostles, Hahn says, used family-based language to describe his work of salvation: God is Father, Christ is Son and the firstborn among brethren, heaven as a marriage feast, the Church is the spouse of God, Christians as children of God. Jesus' last advice "Woman, behold your son" and "Son, behold, your mother" is interpreted by Catholic theologians as referring to Mary's motherhood of all Christians, represented by the John, the only Apostle present. The "New Covenant (Testament) in my blood" mentioned by Jesus in his institution of the Eucharist refers to communion that makes the Church share in Jesus' body and makes the Church one mystical body and one family with supernatural kinship bonds: "we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread." (1 Cor 10:16-17)[58] Thus, the successor of St. Peter as head of the Christ's Church, the Pope as Papa and Holy Father, is an essential part of this Church-family.[14][59]

Great Apostasy[edit]

A foundational premise for the need of the Protestant doctrines of the solas, such as sola scriptura and sola fide, is the doctrine that traditional Christianity especially the Catholic church has fallen away from the primitive principles of Christianity, a doctrine known as the Great Apostasy.

Non-historical and unbiblical[edit]

The meeting of Christianity with enlightened Greek culture is not apostasy into paganism, according to Catholic theologians, but intrinsic to Christianity since the Bible narrates the vision calling Paul to Macedonia after which he concluded that "God had called us to preach the Gospel to them", (Acts 16:9-10) and the New Testament itself, source of Christian revelation, was written in Greek, a pagan language,[60][61] and today's Bibles in Latin script. Historically, say critics, "There is no mention in any of [Church Fathers'] writings of a great apostasy or any sort of battle for the faith on such a scale.... Even if it is assumed that the Church Fathers were part of the apostasy it is likely that they would have mentioned it – even if just to condemn the "true" Christians! But there is no sign in the writings of the Church Fathers of this heresy, nor are there any other writings which support the notion. History is totally silent."[62]

Church Fathers include St. Athanasius, St. Augustine, St. Cyril and St. Ambrose

Rod Bennet in The Apostasy that Wasn't gathered historical evidence and disproved his own previous belief as Baptist and Evangelical in the Great Apostasy, and concluded that it is popular but fiction. He narrated most especially the work of St. Athanasius of Alexandria who was later given the title of "Father of Orthodoxy" in stopping the heresy of Arianism despite the intrigue of the rulers of the Empire and their military might.[63] Moreover, the argument that the excesses and misconduct of the papacy constitute apostasy is misplaced, according to critics, since Jesus' conduct towards Peter shows a clear distinction between the misconduct of Peter (denial and "Get behind me Satan") and affirmation of Peter's office to govern and teach ("feed my sheep" after the denial, and "keys of the kingdom").[64][65]

Catholic converts from Protestantism have been criticizing the Great Apostasy as unscriptural on the basis of Jesus' promise to his apostles "I will be with you until the end of the age," and "that the Paraclete will lead you all the truth", plus his promise to Peter "On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it." Also, the Church is the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27), and he is inseparable from his body. Jesus himself told St. Paul when he was persecuting the Church, that he was "persecuting me", (Acts 9:4-5) thus identifies himself with his Church as he once said that "I am the vine, you are the branches." (Jn 15:5) They also assert that the Bible itself states that "the Church", not the scriptures, "is the pillar and bulwark of the truth". (1 Tim 3:15) "It's inconceivable that [Jesus]", says Patrick Madrid, "would permit his body to disintegrate under the attacks of Satan. The apostle John reminds us that Jesus is greater than Satan. (1 John 4:4)."[66]

Apostolic and episcopal succession: "His office (episkopen) let another take." (Ps 109:8; Acts1:20)

Apostolic succession and ordained authority[edit]

Aside from a disregard to the promises of Jesus to his Church that makes him unreliable when he gives his word, critics state that Protestant acceptance of the Great Apostasy implies their non-acceptance of the biblical teaching on apostolic succession in the Catholic Church and in the Orthodox Churches, a doctrine that the Apostles appointed successors to their authoritative office of governing and preserving the truth in the Church throughout the centuries. At the same time, a number of Protestant Churches, including many Lutheran Churches, the Moravian Church, and the Anglican Communion teach that they ordain their clergy in lines of apostolic succession,[67] and the Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, in 1922, recognised Anglican orders as valid.[68][69]

The Roman Catholic Church has rejected the validity of Anglican apostolic succession as well as that of other Protestant Churches,[70] saying as regards the latter that "the proclamation of sola scriptura led inevitably to an obscuring of the older idea of the Church and its priesthood. Thus through the centuries, the imposition of hands either by men already ordained or by others was often in practice abandoned. Where it did take place, it did not have the same meaning as in the Church of Tradition."[71]

As to the biblical basis of unbroken apostolic succession, Scott Hahn refers to the principle behind the early Church decision narrated in Acts 1 to ordain a successor to Judas as the twelfth apostle, quoting Ps 108:8 "His office let another take". (Acts 1:20) He explains that original Greek word for office is episkopen, from which is derived the word bishop, leading the Protestant King James Version to translate this as "his bishopric let another take".

Scripture Catholic argues there are dozens of scriptural passages that show that "Ordained Leaders Share in Jesus' Ministry and Authority" (e.g. "he who receives you, receives Me, and he who rejects you, rejects me"), "Authority is Transferred by the Sacrament of Ordination" (e.g. laying of the hands, the gift of authority), and "Jesus Wants Us to Obey Apostolic Authority".[72]

Critics say that non-acceptance of the doctrine of apostolic succession is not only unbiblical but also does not correspond to the practices of the early Church and its knowledge of the mind of Christ. They point to the Letter of St. Clement of Rome dated 98 A.D.: "Our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be dissension over the bishop's office. That is why, having received complete foreknowledge, they appointed the aforesaid persons, and afterwards they provided a continuance, that if these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them."

St. Irenaeus' words in 189 A.D. "we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors down to our own times," are used by critics to refer to documentary evidence regarding a continuous, unbroken chain of succession in the Catholic Church that was abandoned through the Reformation.[73]

Adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist. Jesus said: "This is my body", "I am the living bread"

Criticism of deficiencies in doctrinal truth and means of salvation[edit]


Living bread[edit]

According to the doctrine of Roman Catholic Church, those Protestant denominations that have abandoned the Church's continuous apostolic succession, have lost not just the sanctifying powers of validly ordained priests to celebrate the sacraments, but also what is most precious in Christianity that can only come from these priests: the real presence, or fullness of presence, of Jesus in the Eucharist, i.e. Jesus himself:[74]

I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. (Jn 6:51)

While Protestants are praised for their love and commitment for Jesus, Catholics say that they do not have the "pearl of great price" for which it is worthwhile to sell everything to get it. (Mt 13:46)[75][76][77] Thus, because Protestants have departed from "the witness of the whole of the Christian Church for 1,600 years" as regards the Eucharist,[78] they miss the closest and sweetest possible union with Jesus Christ here on earth, according to Peter Kreeft.[79]

Because of the above and because they failed to take Jesus' words in the Bible literally as regards the Eucharist, critics say Protestant Churches[80] including the Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Reformed traditions (as well as Orthodox Churches), each teach a different form of the doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist,[81][82] with Lutherans affirming Christ's presence as a sacramental union and Reformed/Presbyterian Christians affirming a pneumatic presence.[82][83] Anabaptist, Plymouth Brethren and some independent churches teach that the Eucharist is memorial,[84] and do not hold to a belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Jesus said when he instituted the Eucharist "This is my body.... This is the blood of New Covenant,"and that "he who eats my flesh has eternal life". Critics say that this is no figure of speech or mere symbol, for Jesus' use of graphic words shocked his listeners as the original Greek words say "chew" and "gnaw" his flesh.[14][31] Also Jesus did not give in when "many of his disciples" left due to this "hard saying" (Jn 6:48-68), and St. Paul taught that he who eats the bread unworthily is "guilty of profaning the Lord's body" (1 Cor 11:28). The early Christians Fathers such as St. Ignatius of Antioch (1st-2nd c.) said "the Eucharist is the flesh of the Redeemer," while St. Irenaeus (3rd c.) stated that "we receive the bread as Jesus", and St. Cyprian (3rd c.) "Christ is our bread".[85]

8th c. copy of the Sacramentary or liturgical text for priests written by Pope Gelasius (d. 496)

Mass as memorial sacrifice[edit]

Most Protestant denominations are criticized for merely holding Biblical liturgies, but not performing the sacrifice of the Mass as Jesus commanded his Apostles, and as the early Christians did. They are also criticized for misrepresenting the Catholic Mass as a re-crucifixion.

The sacrificial character of the Mass is shown not just in the words of Jesus about "my body given up for you...the chalice of my blood poured out for many," but also in the original Greek of Jesus' command, "Do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor 11:24): "Touto poieite eis ton emen anamnesin". Poieo is a technical term used 70 times in the Old Testament to mean “offer sacrifice.” And the choice of anamnesis over mnemosunon indicates that Jesus was referring to the Hebrew azkarah, which was the memorial offering. Anamnesis refers to a past event that is not just remembered, but is made present. This means, according to Catholic theologians, that what Jesus commanded is for the apostles to "offer a perpetual memorial sacrifice that makes Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross present".[86][87]

After studying the early Christian writings, a preeminent non-Catholic scholar of Oxford University, John Norman Davidson Kelly, concluded: “The eucharist was regarded as the distinctively Christian sacrifice from the closing decade of the first century, if not earlier...The writers and liturgies of the period are unanimous in recognizing it as such.” Also, an Anglo-Catholic biblical scholar on the early Church, Darwell Stone, stated, "The belief that the Eucharist is a sacrifice is found everywhere." For example, St. Irenaeus (d. 202 AD) wrote: Jesus "taught the new sacrifice of the new covenant, of which Malachi, one of the twelve prophets, had signified beforehand: from where the sun rises to where it sets...In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me. (Mal 1:10-11) By these words He makes it plain that the former people will cease to make offerings to God; but that in every place sacrifice will be offered to him."

Relic of St. Cyprian (d. 258): "Let each confess his sin...the forgiveness granted by the priests is acceptable to God"

Thus, the Catholic Catechism states "The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ’s Passover, the making present and the sacramental offering of his unique sacrifice in the liturgy of the church which is his Body...When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ’s Passover, and it is made present: the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present.” (CCC 1362-4)

Confession and other sacraments[edit]

While some Protestants, such as Lutherans, have retained the sacrament of Confession and Absolution,[88][89] critics say that these confessions are not performed by validly ordained priests and that those denominations that reject confession reject Jesus' authorizing the Apostles to "forgive sins" (Jn 20:23) and St. James' admonition to "confess your sins to one another." (James 5:16)[90] Early Christian writers such as Origen (241), Cyprian (251), and Aphraates (337), Ambrose and Pope Leo I clearly state that confession (exomologesis) is to be made to a priest, and there were no recorded protests from the Christians as regards this requirement.[91] St. Cyprian taught: "Let each confess his sin...the forgiveness granted by the priests is acceptable to God."

Also, "Peter taught that 'Baptism now saves you' (1 Pt 3:21) and thus is not a mere inciter of faith. The Bible speaks about 'anointing the sick with oil' (Jas 5:14-15), two kinds of laying of hands (Acts 8:17; 2 Tim 1:6), and marriage in the Lord (1 Cor 7:39)."[85]

The rejection of the seven sacraments, says Catholic critics, show that Protestantism does not accept the Incarnational principle: In Jesus, God united to his divine person a human nature, a material body and a soul.

Thus, "God demonstrates at once that creation, including human nature, is not only good but is capable of being further elevated through the impenetration of the Divine life. This is the basis of the entire sacramental system, which uses outward (material) signs to transmit to us a share of God's life, from the initiation of the believer's journey in Baptism to its conclusion in Anointing of the Sick. It is the basis of the Church, a visible society which itself serves as a living connection between God and man, a sort of meta-sacrament for the transmission and embodiment of grace."[92]

Peter and the Popes: Rock of the Church[edit]

Christ Handing the Keys to St Peter, Kepha: "On this rock (petros, petra, kepha), I will build my Church" (Mt 16:18-19)

Protestants are criticized for not accepting Jesus' words to Simon whom he specially renamed Kepha in Aramaic (Petros in Greek), meaning rock, and gave him the primacy of jurisdiction in his singular Church, despite the fact that many leading contemporary Protestant Bible scholars have accepted the passage's Petrine meaning. Bible Catholic summarized the conclusions of these Protestant scholars in twelve statements among which is "the underlying Aramaic Kepha-kepha of Jesus' words makes the Rock-rock identification certain."[93]

Jesus told Peter, Kepha: "On this rock (petra, kepha), I will build my Church and I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven" (Mt 16:18-19). He gave Petros or Peter, "the keys of the kingdom", which according to Scott Hahn, refers to the power of a prime minister of the King and chief teacher, based on the Old Testament. (Is 22:22). Also, Jesus told him alone to "feed my sheep" (Jn 21:15-17), while the Acts of the Apostles shows Peter leading the Church.[85]

Dave Armstrong presents "50 New Testament proofs" on the pre-eminence of Peter, saying that the "biblical Petrine data is quite strong, and is inescapably compelling".[94] He cites Peter as first in all lists of apostles, first to enter the empty tomb, to perform a miracle, to preach repentance, to recognize heresy, declare an anathema,etc. Before the beginning of his ministry, St. Paul went to Jerusalem to confer specifically with St. Peter for 15 days. (Gal 1:18)

The early Christians referred to Peter's Roman Church as "presiding" (Ignatius, 1st -2nd c.), "of superior origin" and standard of "true Faith" (Irenaeus, 2nd c.), "Chair of Peter", "the principal" (Cyprian, 2nd-3rd c.), and "the primacy" (Augustine, 4th-5th c.).[85]

Visible Church: body of Christ[edit]

Both Orthodox Christians and Catholics criticize Protestantism for their lack of belief in a visible, hierarchical Church[95] Scott Hahn said if St. Paul wanted to teach about an invisible Church, as the Protestant say the Church is, he would have called it Christ's soul. Instead, he chose the word "body"[96] to refer to the Church in order to deliberately emphasize that the Church is visible like Jesus Christ.[31][14] The Church that Jesus built, say the critics, included apostles and sacraments (water, bread, etc.), which are visible signs.

Mary nursing the Infant Jesus. Earliest image of Mary from the Catacomb of Priscilla, 2nd c.

Mary and the saints: intercessions[edit]

Catholic critics say the Protestant lack the help that devotion to Mary and the saints provides and that Protestant opposition to them is unscriptural and does not follow early Christian practice. Scriptures, Catholics assert, refer to (1) "supplication, prayers, intercessions" as "good and acceptable" and also efficacious in bringing peace in 1 Tim 2, where scripture talks about Jesus as "one mediator", thus showing this singularity of Christ's mediation is compatible with Jesus' wanting subordinate, ministerial intercessors who are "in Him", as the Bible often says, showing the glorious greatness of his mediating powers,[97] (2) "prayer of all the saints" in heaven in Revelations (7:15;8:3-4), and (3) the blessing, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord" (Rev 14:13), a blessing from God that men have to imitate.[31][98] Etched in stone in early Christian pilgrimage sites are prayers to the saints for the dead such as "Peter and Paul, pray for Victor."[31][99] St. Augustine in 400 A.D. wrote, "Christians pay religious honor to the memory of the martyrs, both to excite us to imitate them and to obtain a share in their merits, and the assistance of their prayers." St. Jerome too in 406 A.D. said, "If Apostles and martyrs while still in the body can pray for others, when they ought still to be anxious for themselves, how much more must they do so when once they have won their crowns, overcome, and triumphed?"

As regards Mary specifically, critics allude to (1) Mary's prophecy after being filled with the Holy Spirit that "all generations shall call me blessed, (2) the biblical principle of imitation of Christ who followed the fourth commandment "Honor your father and your mother"; honor in Hebrew means to give glory, (3) the woman clothed with the sun who is introduced as the new and most venerable Ark of the Covenent in Revelations, (4) the great importance given in ancient Israel to the mother of the King, i.e. the Queen Mother,[100][101] and (5) the example of the early church Fathers, who called her the Mother of God, the New Eve, and a virgin who saved the human race (St. Irenaeus in 2nd c.). St. Cyril of Alexandria before A.D. 444, greeted her with: “Hail to thee Mary, Mother of God, to whom in towns and villages and in island were founded churches of true believers.” And a 3rd c. oldest preserved extant hymn Sub tuum praesidium runs: “Under your mercy we take refuge, O Mother of God. Do not reject our supplications in necessity, but deliver us from danger.".[102]

Catacombs contain inscriptions of prayers for the dead and prayers to the saints for the dead


Protestantism is criticized for denying what the Roman Catholic Church sees as the biblical foundations of the doctrine of Purgatory. Critics say that "As shown in their tombstones, the early Christians followed the Bible: 'Pray for the dead that they may be loosed from sins' (2 Mc 12:46), for 'nothing unclean can enter heaven' (Rev 21:27). It does not make sense to pray for the dead if they only go, as a number of Protestants say, either to heaven (with faith in Christ) or to hell (without faith). Jesus spoke about forgiveness in the age to come (Mt 12:32) and St. Paul stated that those judged after death by God are 'saved but as through fire' (1 Cor 3:13-15)."[85][31]

Because of the evidence that the early Christians prayed for the dead, many Protestant denominations that practice prayer for the dead criticize other Protestant denominations that do not practice it such as the Baptists. The Anglican and Methodist traditions along with Eastern Orthodoxy, affirm the existence of an intermediate state, Hades, and thus pray for the dead,[103][104] as do many Lutheran Churches, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which "remembers the faithful departed in the Prayers of the People every Sunday, including those who have recently died and those commemorated on the church calendar of saints".[105]

The Beheading of Saint Paul : "I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake" (Col 1:24)

Joyful redemptive suffering[edit]

"Because in Protestantism all you generally need to do is accept Jesus as personal Lord and Savior to be saved and nothing more," writes John Salza, "suffering is simply viewed as something we must endure as part of the human condition, without any value or merit for ourselves or others. Because the Catholic Church believes that each of us, by virtue of our baptism, participates in Christ's eternal priesthood, she instead teaches that our prayers, works, and even suffering further Christ's work of redemption. This is what Saint Paul is writing about in Colossians 1:24:"[21] "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh and I complete what is lacking in Christ's affliction for the sake of his body, that is, the church."

Salza suggests that many Protestants are wasting their suffering since they lack the biblical teaching on redemptive suffering that is full of joy. This teaching tells Christians not just to ask for healing when they suffer, but to "rejoice in suffering" for the sake of others, uniting oneself with sacrifice of Jesus as sons of God in Jesus Christ. "God wills us to participate in Christ's sufferings in order to further the work of His redemption."

"Some Evangelicals say that it is never God's will that we suffer but Catholics believe Peter acknowledged that there are cases when it may be God's will to suffer: 'for it is better to suffer for doing good if suffering should be God's will.' (1Pet 3:17)"[106][107]

Faith and reason (logos)[edit]

Luther is quoted as saying: “Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.”[108] While the Catholic Church championed the harmony of faith and reason, since man's reason is a creation of God who is the Logos (Reason) as per John 1:1, Protestantism separated faith and reason and thus denying faith an access to the whole of reality through reason, according to Pope Benedict XVI:

Martin Luther: “Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has."
Dehellenization [removal of Greek or rational influence] first emerges in connection with the postulates of the Reformation in the sixteenth century. Looking at the tradition of scholastic theology, the Reformers thought they were confronted with a faith system totally conditioned by philosophy, that is to say an articulation of the faith based on an alien system of thought. As a result, faith no longer appeared as a living historical Word but as one element of an overarching philosophical system. The principle of sola scriptura, on the other hand, sought faith in its pure, primordial form, as originally found in the biblical Word. Metaphysics appeared as a premise derived from another source, from which faith had to be liberated in order to become once more fully itself. When Kant stated that he needed to set thinking aside in order to make room for faith, he carried this programme forward with a radicalism that the Reformers could never have foreseen. He thus anchored faith exclusively in practical reason, denying it access to reality as a whole....
The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur - this is the programme with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time.[109]

Historical, sociological and ecclesiological critique[edit]

A basic premise of the Catholic historical critique is a statement of Cardinal John Henry Newman, a former Anglican minister turned Catholic cardinal: "To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." Catholic historians believe that a detailed and honest study of the history of Christianity shows that the early church does not describe Protestant teachings and practices, and instead mirrors the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. Also this study can show the flawed roots of the Protestant Reformation.

Unfaithful to early church beliefs[edit]

John Calvin took part in 58 death sentences, including torture and burning at the stake

As evidenced in the above critique on Protestant principles and doctrines, using direct quotes of early Christian writings, in contrast with Protestantism, "the early Church," as Robert Sugenis summarized, "believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, confession of sins to a priest, baptismal regeneration, salvation by faith and good works done through grace, that one could reject God's grace and forfeit salvation, that the bishop of Rome is the head of the Church, that Mary is the Mother of God and was perpetually a virgin, that intercessory prayer can be made to the saints in heaven, that purgatory is a state of temporary purification which some Christians undergo before entering heaven."[110]

Foundational defects[edit]

Protestantism per se, critics argue, was not present in the beginning of Christianity, since the founders of Protestantism lived in the 16th Century. The reformers did not receive any legitimate mission from God, and did not show any signs that they did receive this mission,[111] unlike St. Peter who performed several miracles in the Acts of the Apostles and died a martyr's death,[112] and the Catholic Church with its many documented miracles in the saints, the Eucharist, relics, Marian apparitions, etc.

Detailed modern historical research on the period of the Reformation such as Oxford historian Diarmaid MacCulloch's much lauded Reformation has clearly shown that the founders of Protestantism had problematic moral qualities, Luther's justification doctrine was directly influenced by his manic personality, and that the development of the Reformation was not a purely religious event, but was propelled in large measure by cultural and political factors, in sharp contrast with the sanctity, martyrdom and pure faith in Christ of the early Christians.[113]

Luther was said to be anti-semitic, misogynist and cruel towards the poor.[114][115] His fellow reformer John Calvin described Luther as "craving for victory, using haughty and abusive language, delusional, insolently furious, and careless about propriety of expression and historical context."[116] He is accused of egocentrism or metaphysical egoism, due to his personal belief expressed in his statement that "I do not admit, that my doctrine can be judged by anyone, even by the angels. He who does not receive my doctrine cannot be saved."[117] Henry VIII, the founder of Anglicanism, was married six times and beheaded two of his spouses. John Calvin "never endorsed private or lay interpretation of the Bible." He claimed authority as a successor to the prophets and apostles, punishing those who did not share his interpretation of Scripture.[118] He took part in 58 death sentences, including torture and burning at the stake, and the exile of 76 people.[119]

Since it is known as Protestantism, the movement is criticized as a negative force which "protests" and revolts against authority established by God. Karl Adam wrote: "The sixteenth century revolt from the Church led inevitably to the revolt from Christ of the eighteenth century, and thence to the revolt from God of the nineteenth. And thus the modern spirit has been torn loose from the deepest and strongest supports of its life, from its foundation in the Absolute, in the self-existent Being, in the Value of all values... Instead of the man who is rooted in the Absolute, hidden in God, strong and rich, we have the man who rests upon himself, the autonomous man."[120][121]

Eva Brunne, lesbian bishop of the Church of Sweden, an Evangelical Lutheran church

Doctrinal contradictions and disunification[edit]

Protestant self-criticism stresses the fragmentation of the Protestant groups.[122] The ecumenical movement, which some trace to the 1910 World Missionary Conference, owes its genesis to a realization of a "scandal" of disunity among the Christian groups.[123]

The disunity is not in accord, say these critics both Protestant and Catholic, with the Bible's teaching on "one faith, one baptism", "one body" and being "united in the same mind and same judgement", (1 Cor 1:10) distinguishing churches in the New Testament based on geography but not in doctrine. Also, St. Paul (1 Cor. 12: 25) and the early Church, such as in the very early writing, the Didache, deplored schism, breaking off from the one Church.[124][125]

"Their views on the Trinity, on gays, etc. contradict each other. Since truth (e.g. Jesus is God) cannot be falsehood at the same time, real falsehoods are sadly being taught among these groups," says a Catholic theologian.[85] Also, as per Francis Beckwith, former President of the Evangelical Theological Society and a revert to Catholicism, Protestantism makes "schism as proper and unity as unnatural" and promotes the subordination of Church and theology to the individual ego. Thus it prefers self-will over evidence that "Rome has better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity," as a scholar who is a committed Protestant admitted, "than any Protestant denomination, let alone the strange hybrid that is evangelicalism."[126]

Christ said "I am the Truth" (Jn 14:6)

Non-universal unique truth claims[edit]

While Protestantism has spread throughout the world, one Protestant self-critique points to the paucity or limited quantity of membership in individual Protestant denominations relative to the world population. Before he became Catholic, this was expressed by Peter Kreeft thus: "Why do we Calvinists have the whole truth and no one else? We're so few. How could God leave the rest of the world in error? Especially the rest of the Christian churches?"[127] The large autonomous denominations with their specific organizational leadership, unique truth claims, and group name, such as Southern Baptists, United Methodist Church, Church of England and Church of Sweden tend to have majority of their membership concentrated in one geographical area. This state of affairs, according to critics, is not in accord with the universal scope of Christ's one Church with his singular claim as "the Truth". (Jn 14:6) Jesus said: "Make disciples of all nations," (Mt 28:19) and he referred to "my Church", (Mt 16:18) not my churches.

Contraception and the sexual revolution[edit]

Influential evangelical leader, Dr. Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that the acceptance of a separation of sex and babies in contraception, pushed by "moral revolutionaries", led to the sexual revolution.[128] Starting in 1930, most modern Protestant denominations now favor contraception in contrast to the historical fact that before 1930 all Christian Churches without exception condemned contraception in the strongest terms.

For the critics, the shift in Protestant teaching is a result of lack of authority and fidelity to the God and Church tradition, a lack of "courage and integrity to teach this most unpopular truth".[14] Contraception is a caving in to immorality that, according to Pope Paul VI in 1968, "could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards.... forget the reverence due to a woman, and ... reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of [man's] own desires....public authorities...may even impose [contraceptive] use on everyone"[129]

The LGBT sexual revolution comes from separating sex and babies (Baptist intellectual leader Dr. Albert Mohler)

Social science research has demonstrated the correlation of contraception with the decadent sexual revolution, marriage decline, increase in teenage sex, adultery, illegitimacy, divorce and homosexuality, widespread porn, abortion, and government contraceptive impositions, according to critics. Thus, they say, science has proven that the Pope's "prophecy" has taken place, and Catholic teaching is the God-given truth on what the natural law establishes about sexuality.[130][131]

Scott Hahn said that the teaching against contraception in the history of the Church up to 1930 is based on a Biblical view of marriage as a sacred covenant, that creates family and kinship ties.[14] Tim Staples said the teaching of the Bible against the sin of Onan shows that those Protestants who accept the use of contraception are in error.

Hyperplural, permissive, state-controlled consumerist society[edit]

Notre Dame historian Brad Stephan Gregory in his multi-awarded and minutely documented The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society, published by Harvard University Press, argues that many ills of the secularized world, which he calls "Kingdom of Whatever", were unintended but essential consequences of the reformation. The contemporary world's hyperpluralism, relativism, lack of philosophical consensus on the most important things in life or what he calls "Life Questions" (such as the person one should become), and its individualist, egocentric subjectivism ('to think and do and live' as one may please, to 'exercise their wills as they will – the summum bonum') can be historically traced to sola scriptura, granting exclusive authority to the bible, which can be interpreted whichever way by anyone. Through the Reformation emerged "the new and compounding problem of how to know what true Christianity was. 'Scripture alone' was not a solution to this new problem, but its cause."

The modern secular state's control over morality and religion as shown for example in state imposition of the right to abortion and homosexual union is traced to the Reformation split between politics and morality (with theology), which were all united in pre-Reformation Europe. Luther's doctrine of the two-kingdoms "implicitly theorized the control of human bodies and thus human beings by secular authorities ... power [was] exercised by secular rulers alone." After the Reformation, Gregory says, "secular rulers were the sole stewards of the public sphere within which alone the flesh-and-blood social relationships of Christian life unfolded." With the transition from virtue ethics to an ethics of rights, Christianity "was radically redefined as a private and highly circumscribed matter of individual preference". With this, we now have "millions of divorces which, for decades, have exacted vast human costs. All this, too, is the product of individuals exercising their legally protected liberty, guided by the dominate ethos of a therapeutic society based on feelings."

He also says the Protestant Reformation "ended more than a thousand years of efforts in the Latin West to create a unified moral community through Christianity." Faith-alone doctrine without need of human cooperation in salvation, and "the bitter disagreements among early modern Christians about the objective morality of the good" led to "the absence of any substantive common good," subjectively constructed morality, and the "inexorable trend toward increasing permissiveness". Since one's personal happiness was most important, what emerged was "an all-persuasive consumerism wedded to a staunch faith in market capitalism". The state's main role was to protect and advance this. The fact that the Church voice on avarice as sin was restricted to the private sphere has "provided increasingly unencumbered, self-constructing selves with a never ending array of stuff to fuel constantly reinforced acquisitiveness." Because Christianity was removed from the political and economic sphere, education too was secularized, not intellectually open to God and to natural moral law: "an ideological imperialism masquerading as an intellectual inevitability." He says the contemporary academy is a "buyers'-market hyperpluralism" whose "aim is not the pursuit of truth...with respect to any of the Life Questions, but rather indoctrination in the conviction that there are no definitive answers." And “specialized academic research tends to discourage critical inquiry about the character and presumptive neutrality of intellectual assumptions that are routinely taken for granted. One cannot be aware of problems one does not see."[132]

Black legend against Catholics[edit]

For Protestant historian Pierre Chaunu, and for philosopher Miguel de Unamuno,[133] Protestants (and for Catholic scholar Ignacio Barreiro, Protestant ideology itself)[134] brought about the black legend, or false propaganda, against Catholics that have been spread in the United States and the rest of the Anglo-Saxon world, and from there to the rest of the world. The black legend, or leyenda negra, was started by Protestant countries of Holland and Britain when Catholic Spain emerged as the major power after the wars of religion.

Map of Venice, 15th century; Catholic cities like Venice were wealthy free markets before the Reformation

According to Rodney Stark, a non-Catholic scholar of Protestant Baylor University and who was a long-time agnostic, these Protestant countries "fostered intense propaganda campaigns that depicted the Spanish as bloodthirsty and fanatical barbarians." The spread of the black legends, bolstered by other forces such as the Enlightenment, led to many "notorious falsehoods" about the Catholic Church that have become common culture, he said. Reporting the prevailing view among leading scholars and specialists, Stark in his book Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History states that black legends include exaggerations and lies regarding the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Dark Ages, slavery and what he calls "Protestant Modernity". Modern capitalism with its wealth generation, according to the scholars, was not Protestant inspired, but "a Catholic invention", because of the historically verified existence of pre-Reformation Catholic capitalist communities in the 15th century. Thus, according to one of the greatest modern historians, Fernand Braudel, Max Weber's Protestant work ethic is "a tenuous theory" not accepted by "all historians", and "is clearly false."[5]


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  3. ^ a b Wright, N. T (August 2003), New Perspectives on Paul, 10th Edinburgh Dogmatics Conference .
  4. ^ Rodney Stark, Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History
  5. ^ a b Manager. "Protestant Modernity". 
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  11. ^ "Orthodox Criticism of the Western Christian Teaching on Personal Salvation". 
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  13. ^ Terry Barber, How to Share Your Faith with Anyone, Ignatius Press, 2013
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  15. ^ "The Coming Home Network - Discover Catholicism, Come Home". The Coming Home Network. 
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  22. ^ "Methodist Beliefs: In what ways are Lutherans different from United Methodists?". Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2014. The United Methodists see Scripture as the primary source and criterion for Christian doctrine. They emphasize the importance of tradition, experience, and reason for Christian doctrine. Lutherans teach that the Bible is the sole source for Christian doctrine. The truths of Scripture do not need to be authenticated by tradition, human experience, or reason. Scripture is self authenticating and is true in and of itself. 
  23. ^ Humphrey, Edith M. (15 April 2013). Scripture and Tradition. Baker Books. p. 16. ISBN 9781441240484. historically Anglicans have adopted what could be called a prima Scriptura position. 
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  29. ^ Peter Kreeft. "Hauled Aboard the Ark". 
  30. ^ Peter Kreeft (2014). "Justification by Faith". Catholic Education Resource Center. 
  31. ^ a b c d e f Scott Hahn. "Reasons to Believe". Ignatius Press. 
  32. ^ Lee Strobel, Case for Christ
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  34. ^ Dave Armstrong. "A Quick Ten-Step Refutation of Sola Scriptura". 
  35. ^ Robert Sungenis in Surprised by Truth
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  37. ^ "Bible Commentary on "Keys" of Isaiah 22:22". Biblical Catholic. 
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  41. ^ [1] JOINT DECLARATION THE DOCTRINE OF by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church
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  48. ^ "Salvation". Scripture Catholic. 
  49. ^ Fr. Leslie Rumble (1 February 2003). "The Disasters of "By Faith Alone"". Catholic Answers. 
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  54. ^ User, Super. "Why Only Catholicism Can Make Protestantism Work: Louis Bouyer on the Reformation". 
  55. ^ "General Audience of 8 November 2006: St Paul's new outlook - BENEDICT XVI". 
  56. ^ "'Grace Alone' 500 Years Later". 
  57. ^ "Response of the Catholic Church to the Joint Declaration of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation on the Doctrine of Justification". The Vatican. 
  58. ^ "CCC Search Result - Paragraph # 1324". St Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. 
  59. ^ Scott Hahn, The Father who Keeps His Promises
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  61. ^ Joseph Ratzinger, Truth and Tolerance
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  63. ^ Rod Bennet, The Apostasy That Wasn't
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  65. ^ Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (November 25, 2003). "Scandals". Alba House – via 
  66. ^ (Patrick Madrid, In Search of the "Great Apostasy"
  67. ^ Guidry, Christopher R.; Crossing, Peter F. (1 January 2001). World Christian Trends, AD 30-AD 2200: Interpreting the Annual Christian Megacensus. William Carey Library. p. 307. ISBN 9780878086085. Very many other major episcopal churches, however-Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Old Catholic, Anglican, Scandinavian Lutheran-do make this claim and contend that a bishop cannot have regular or valid orders unless he has been consecrated in this apostolic succession. 
  68. ^ Wright, John Robert; Dutton, Marsha L.; Gray, Patrick Terrell (2006). One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: Studies in Christian Ecclesiality and Ecumenism. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 273. ISBN 9780802829405. Constantinople declared, cautiously, in 1922 that Anglican orders "have the same validity as those of the Roman, Old Catholic and Armenian Churches", an opinion echoed by the churches of Jerusalem, Cyprus, Alexandria, and Romania. Heartened, Labeth bishops broadened the dialogue, sponsored the translation of "books and documents setting forth the relative positions" of the two churches, and asked the English church to consult "personally or by correspondence" with the eastern churches "with a view to ... securing a clearer understanding and ... establishing closer relations between the Churches of the East and the Anglican Communion". 
  69. ^ Franklin, R. William (1 June 1996). Anglican Orders: Essays on the Centenary of Apostolicae Curae 1896-1996. Church Publishing, Inc. p. 117. ISBN 9780819224880. In 1922 the Ecumenical Patriarch and Holy Synod of Constantinople were persuaded to speak of Anglican orders. They did so in Delphic terms by declaring that Anglican orders possessed "the same validity as the Roman, Old Catholic and Armenian Churches possess". Jerusalem and Cyprus followed in 1923 by provisionally acceding that Anglican priests should not be reordained if they became Orthodox. Romania endorsed Anglican orders in 1936. Greece was not so sure, arguing that the whole of Orthodoxy must come to a decision, but it spoke of Anglican orders in the same somewhat detached un-Orthodox language. 
  70. ^ Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (July 10, 2007). "Responses to some questions regarding certain aspects of the doctrine on the church". La Santa Sede. According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. 
  71. ^ "International Theological Commission: Catholic Teaching on Apostolic Succession". The Vatican. 1973. 
  72. ^ "Apostolic Authority and Succession - Scripture Catholic". 7 August 2017. 
  73. ^ "Apostolic Succession". Catholic Answers. 
  74. ^ CCC 1400
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  76. ^ "The Early Eucharist". CUP Archive – via Google Books. 
  77. ^ "In Awe of the Eucharist - The Southern Cross". 13 June 2017. 
  78. ^ Little, Albert (14 May 2015). "What Changed This Protestant's Mind About the Eucharist - ChurchPOP". 
  79. ^ Kreeft, Ecumenical Jihad
  80. ^ M'Gavin, William (1833). The Protestant: Essays on the principal points of controversy between the Church of Rome and the Reformed. Hutchison and Dwier. p. 396. ... every Protestant church holds the doctrine of the real presence, while it is expressed in this general form. 
  81. ^ Neal, Gregory S. (19 December 2014). Sacramental Theology and the Christian Life. WestBow Press. p. 111. ISBN 9781490860077. For Anglicans and Methodists the reality of the presence of Jesus as received through the sacramental elements is not in question. Real presence is simply accepted as being true, its mysterious nature being affirmed and even lauded in official statements like This Holy Mystery: A United Methodist Understanding of Holy Communion. 
  82. ^ a b Mattox, Mickey L.; Roeber, A. G. (27 February 2012). Changing Churches: An Orthodox, Catholic, and Lutheran Theological Conversation. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 54. ISBN 9780802866943. In this "sacramental union", Lutherans taught, the body and blood of Christ are so truly united to the bread and wine of the Holy Communion that the two may be identified. They are at the same time body and blood, bread and wine. This divine food is given, more-over, not just for the strengthening of faith, nor only as a sign of our unity in faith, nor merely as an assurance of the forgiveness of sin. Even more, in this sacrament the Lutheran Christian receives the very body and blood of Christ precisely for the strengthening of the union of faith. The "real presence" of Christ in the Holy Sacrament is the means by which the union of faith, effected by God's Word and the sacrament of baptism, is strengthened and maintained. Intimate union with Christ, in other words, leads directly to the most intimate communion in his holy body and blood. 
  83. ^ Brogaard, Betty (2010). The Homemade Atheist: A Former Evangelical Woman's Freethought Journey to Happiness. Ulysses Press. p. 104. ISBN 9781569757840. The objective reality, pious silence, pneumatic presence, and receptionism views of Holy Communion ... are held by churches of the East--the Eastern Orthodox Church; Reformed Christians like Presbyterians ... they reject that communion is merely or strictly symbolic and accept the real "spiritual" presence in the elements. 
  84. ^ Balmer, Randall Herbert; Winner, Lauren F. (2002). Protestantism in America. Columbia University Press. p. 26. ISBN 9780231111300. 
  85. ^ a b c d e f Raul Nidoy (December 23, 2013). "Ten Reasons the Catholic Church is the One True Church". Reason. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
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  88. ^ Haffner, Paul (1999). The Sacramental Mystery. Gracewing Publishing. p. 11. ISBN 9780852444764. The Augsburg Confession drawn up by Melanchton, one of Luther's disciples admitted only three sacraments, Baptist, the Lord's Supper and Penance. Melanchton left the way open for the other five sacred signs to be considered as "secondary sacraments". However, Zwingli, Calvin and most of the later Reformed tradition accepted only Baptism and the Lord's Supper as sacraments, but in a highly symbolic sense. 
  89. ^ Smith, Preserved (1911). The Life and Letters of Martin Luther. Houghton Mifflin. p. 89. In the first place I deny that the sacraments are seven in number, and assert that there are only three, baptism, penance, and the Lord's Supper, and that all these three have been bound by the Roman Curia in a miserable captivity and that the Church has been deprived of all her freedom. 
  90. ^ "A Catholic Responds – Five Common Protestant Objections to the Sacrament of Confession". 
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  95. ^ Klimenko, Ph.D, Deacon Victor (13 May 2011). "Orthodox Criticism of the Western Christian Teaching on Personal Salvation". Retrieved 19 October 2017. 
  96. ^ "22 Bible verses about Body Of Christ, The Church". 
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  98. ^ "One Mediator Between God and Men - Catholic Answers". Catholic Answers. 
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  103. ^ Cook, Joseph (1883). Advanced thought in Europe, Asia, Australia, &c. London: Richard D. Dickinson. p. 41. Anglican orthodoxy, without protest, has allowed high authorities to teach that there is an intermediate state, Hades, including both Gehenna and Paradise, but with an impassable gulf between the two. 
  104. ^ Gould, James B. (4 August 2016). Understanding Prayer for the Dead: Its Foundation in History and Logic. Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 57–58. ISBN 9781620329887. The Roman Catholic and English Methodist churches both pray for the dead. Their consensus statement confirms that "over the centuries in the Catholic tradition praying for the dead has developed into a variety of practices, especially through the Mass.... The Methodist church ... has prayers for the dead ... Methodists who pray for the dead thereby commend them to the continuing mercy of God." 
  105. ^ Gould, James B. (4 August 2016). Understanding Prayer for the Dead: Its Foundation in History and Logic. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 50. ISBN 9781532606014. 
  106. ^ "Suffering, Catholic Style! - Catholic Stand". 17 October 2014. 
  107. ^ "A Catholic Reflection on the Meaning of Suffering". 
  108. ^ "MercatorNet: Luther and the divorce between faith and reason". 
  109. ^ "Apostolic Journey to München, Altötting and Regensburg: Meeting with the representatives of science in the Aula Magna of the University of Regensburg (September 12, 2006) - Benedict XVI". The Vatican. 
  110. ^ Robert Sugenis, From Controversy to Consolation
  111. ^ "The Protestant reformers had no legitimate mission from God (or from someone given power by God) to reform the Church". 
  112. ^ "6 Bible verses about Miracles of Peter". 
  113. ^ Diarmaid MacCulloch. Reformation
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  115. ^ Catholicism, Biblical Evidence for. "Was Luther "Bloodthirsty" & Violent? (James Swan & I Agree!)". Patheos. 
  116. ^ Frank Gantz. "5 Criticisms of Martin Luther by John Calvin". 
  117. ^ "On Personality of Martin Luther". Catholic Apologetics Information. 
  118. ^ "How John Calvin Made me a Catholic". 
  119. ^ "John Calvin Killed Rival Theologians: Bad Bible Interpretation Justified It". Reenacting the Way. 15 March 2015. 
  120. ^ Karl Adam, Spirit of Catholicism
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  123. ^ Brian Stanley, The World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh 1910
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  126. ^ User, Super. "Reformation Day and Schism". 
  127. ^ Peter Kreeft. "Hauled Aboard the Ark". 
  128. ^ "Influential Evangelical leader: The sexual revolution started with contraception". 
  129. ^ "Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae of the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI to His Venerable Brothers the Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops and Other Local Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See, to the Clergy and Faithful of the Whole Catholic World, and to All Men of Good Will, on the Regulation of Birth". The Vatican. 1968. 
  130. ^ "Time To Admit It: The Church Has Always Been Right On Birth Control". 
  131. ^ "Social Science Confirms Harmful Effects of Contraception". 10 January 2005. 
  132. ^ Brad Gregory. The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society
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  134. ^ "Library : Spain's Black Legend". Catholic Culture.