Essay Question


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Catholic apologists claim that Protestants and Evangelicals have so many ‘sects’ because we read the Bible on our own without a teaching authority; that this has produced tens of thousands of denominations; and that this is a sign of God’s judgment upon Protestantism.

What do you think?

If you disagree, how would you respond to Catholic apologists?


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Here are a few responses from Dr. Joe Mizzi of justforcatholics.orgJust for Catholics is “an evangelical ministry dedicated to Roman Catholics who desire to know how to be saved.” (I added links within Dr. Mizzi’s short article, and an excerpt that follows it.)

justforcatholics.org header

30,000 Protestant Denominations?

Question: If one thing is clear, it’s that there is one, single, visible Church that Jesus founded. This multitude of competing, conflicting denominations is no sign of God’s work; therefore, it must be the work of the Evil One. Somewhere in the midst of these 30,000 denominations, there is one true church, and the rest are in sin and rebellion.

Answer: The “thousands-of-denominations” argument is very often employed to prove all sorts of things. Here are some citations from letters received from other Catholics:

How can all these denominations claim to follow the Bible yet all come to different conclusions? How can I possibly know which one of those above teach the truth when they can’t even agree on what the Bible says? The Bible alone has created so much havoc in this world.

If there is only one Church, why are there so many Protestant denominations? Possibly many thousands throughout the world, as compared to only one Catholic Church? I do see it as a sign of God’s judgment that there are close to 30,000 Protestant denominations.

The Bible alone can be dangerous. In fact, the Bible alone IS dangerous. Look at Protestantism: 100,000 different interpretation of the Bible, 100,000 contradictions, 100,000 different denominations claiming to have the key.

Peter said that no prophecy of the Scripture is for private interpretation. This is why you have 30,000 different Protestant denominations that all believe differently from one another. This alone should give you a clue that Protestantism is not the true Church of Jesus Christ.

So, the existence of many Protestant denominations supposedly proves that the Sola Scriptura is dangerous, that we should not try to understand the Bible for ourselves, that the church of Rome is the one true church, and of course, all the other churches are false.

Elsewhere I have written on the significance of the heterogeneity among Christians. (See That They May Be One and Disagreement among Protestants). Here I simply want to make one important addition, namely, that the allegation so often repeated by Catholic apologists that there are 20,000 to 30,000 Protestant denominations is simply FALSE . . . not to mention the double standard employed, for the Roman Church is not exactly united. There are untold factions and divisions, and diverse understanding of doctrine within Catholic groups and by different Catholic theologians and individuals.

In an article entitled “30,000 Protestant Denominations?”, Evangelical apologist Eric Svendsen exposes the falsehood of this fabrication. Briefly:

Svendsen shows that the source of this figure is the World Christian Encyclopedia (David A. Barrett; Oxford University Press, 1982).

Barrett cites a figure of 20,780 denominations. However not all of them are Protestants. According to Barrett, Protestants account for 8,196 (and incidentally, Roman Catholics account for 223).

However, even this figure of eight thousand Protestant denominations is misleading, for Barrett defines “distinct denominations” as any group that might have a slightly different emphasis than another group. The distinction is made on the basis of jurisdiction, rather than differing beliefs and practices.

Barrett breaks down the Protestant bloc into twenty-one major “traditions” which are much closer to what we usually mean by the word “denominations.” It is interesting that Roman Catholics are subdivided into sixteen such “traditions.”

Svendsen concludes, “In short, Roman Catholic apologists have hurriedly, carelessly – and, as a result, irresponsibly – glanced at Barrett’s work, found a large number (22,189), and arrived at all sorts of absurdities that Barrett never concluded.”

Copyright Dr Joe Mizzi. Permission to copy and distribute this article without textual changes. 

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Dr. Mizzi offers more to counter the claim of Catholic apologists that Protestantism and Evangelicalism are hopelessly fractured, and that this is a judgment of God upon our rebellion, in his article “That They May Be One!” (cited above). In this excerpt he describes factions and sources of authority for Catholicism and Christianity:

Christian denominations do not even begin to rival the diversity between the various groups, movements, societies and orders within the Catholic Church. The spectrum ranges from the cloister nuns and Trappist monks (who spend all their time in silence), through the Masonic-like Catenians and Opus Dei, Traditional Catholics, Liberal Catholics, the Neocatechumens, Catholic Charismatics, Evangelical Catholics and so on. They all fall under the wide umbrella of Catholicism, of course, but the differences between them are just as real, and even wider than between Christian denominations. Someone will protest that this is “diversity within unity” and that all these groups are Catholics and united under the leadership of the Pope. Well then, by the same token, despite their diversity, the many denominations are all Christian and united under the headship of Christ.

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33 thoughts on “Essay Question

  1. One thing I know for sure is that when Catholics controlled who could read the Bible, they were also, busy killing everyone who didn’t agree with Catholic doctrine. That seems much more dangerous to me than people disagreeing over interpretations and forming different denominations. Am I missing something? The only danger I see to everyone being able to read the Bible for themselves is to the power and control of religious hierarchy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Pam, that’s very true about our ability to read the Bible for ourselves being chiefly dangerous to the power and control of the religious hierarchy. As you mentioned, people have died because the hierarchy was threatened by their faith.
      I hesitate to say the following because I believe ardently that God wants us to read the Bible for ourselves and that His Spirit guides us, that the anointing we have from God remains with us and shows us truth and error by the light of His Word; however there is another danger to being able to read and study for ourselves, and that is that some from among us go beyond the doctrine of Christ into heresy and error. But this is not the true child of God who is led by His Spirit, and can never be a reason to forbid Bible reading, which is more than our necessary bread.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The second part of your comment relates to the danger of individual believers and is between them and God. The church and no other can prevent that. God doesn’t need a hierarchy to control what individuals believe. He does give us leaders in the church but it is our responsibility to follow them only as they follow Christ and none of us can accomplish that if we are kept from scripture or neglect personal study. We can all be in error at times but God corrects those who belong to Him. And their will always be those who pervert the scriptures to their own purposes. God will sort them out too.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I like this question. 😛

    We need to remember that the true Church is not a denomination but a Body-Christ’s Body, with Jesus Christ as the Head. There are true believers to be found in all denominations, including the RCC, though they will “come out from among them” when the truth of RCC’s idolatrous beliefs i.e., Mass-The New Eve, etc., are revealed to them. And, even in the Protestant churches there will be those who will reject the sun-god idolatry they practice, such as X Mass and Easter. In every church there are wheat and tares. The Lord of the Harvest knows who is who and these are of His Body, which is the true Church.

    Maria, I believe the RCC are the least qualified to interpret scriptures! x-l They have created fables for the deluded masses to “feel” religious. I may be wrong but could this question by the Catholic apologists be a veiled attempt at causing people to question if Protestantism is truly the truth holders they claim to be? Even to putting doubt in the minds of Protestants themselves? Ecumenism is very deceitful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Sherry! Yes, ecumenism is deceitful, and yes, Catholic apologists are un-apologetically trying their best to bolster the faith of Catholics and to undermine ours.
      How true it is that the church is His body and that believers are from all denominations – and that both wheat and tares are present everywhere. Sad but true, and other than tending God’s sheep we can do nothing until the End of the Age when tares will be gathered to be burned and wheat brought into His barn.
      Glad you like this question – my husband and I tried to find a good question.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have to go back to an important first order question for the critics, which is “Are you truth-seeking or self-seeking?” Self seekers quickly accept things to validate their lifestyle decisions, whereas truth seekers will dig for the real gold, regardless of where it takes them personally. Sigh. God help us all!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you put that well. We are after all saved by Grace through Faith and not because we are cleverly side-stepping all of the landmines along the way.

      My own understanding of scriptures sometimes offends others. Some of them remind me that ‘no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation’. And yet they, myself and many others have our own comments, blogs, forums, channels, churches and ministries rather than one simple King James Bible to serve all. I am confident that the will of God and Truth will not be deterred from those who seek it. We walk in Faith as honestly as we know and/or are led.

      Liked by 2 people

        • Ephesians 4:
          7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey Maria
    I think this is a danger in any body that teaches that only some authority with special direct revelation can properly guide the regular people so to speak to the truth. It is certainly more institutionalized in the Roman Catholic church, but they hardly stand alone. Even among so called evangelical circles there is a growing emphasis on personal direct revelation which may or may not be as taught in The Bible as we believe it to exist. People are, and always have been, interested in developing their own power base, and sadly they often do it under the guise of Christianity.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wally, don’t you think that this kind of thing – “that only some authority with special direct revelation can properly guide the regular people” – is what Nicolaitanism is? It is this rule over others that the Lord warned against when He taught that the greatest among the disciples would serve them (my poor paraphrase). It’s true that it’s in Evangelical circles also, but is the heart of Catholicism.
      About personal direct revelation gaining ground among us – yes, this is so true. This can be seen in the popularity of false teachers who often speak about their “conversations with” the Lord.

      Like

  5. Lost sinners get saved by faith in JESHUA, JESUS only. There is no special importance of joining any denomination. Denomination is only an expression of what got practically important for believers (f. e. baptism). The body of the MESSIAH will never be an earthly, human, hierarchic institution, because GOD is holy. Anyway, we all know in part.

    “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. “ (1. Corinthians 13)

    We have to admit, that we Protestants are sometimes too proud about our knowing in part. But we know finally that an institution, or works, or “sacraments” can never save, but JESHUA, JESUS only. HE wants to own our heart and life, which needs to be cleansed through HIM alone, what HE has done and is spoken by HIM alone through his WORD, the origin Bible alone.

    God bless you and Shalom!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. One guffaw right after the other. You do great and intelligent work, admirable. The most profound, outstanding thing I’ve noticed about this “Church” led by one governing body is their ability to reconstitute as a entity. Anything for a audience. I have seen them infiltrate neighborhoods under various banners, guises, folks unawares that they are attending a church sponsored by the Catholic Church, whose attendance tally goes straight to the Sponsor. Scary. I visited one such church, but I could smell the seeds. Never went back. They are smart. People thought they were a attending a community church, community oriented, more hep more cool. Even in history, they have demonstrated themselves to be enterprising. You know what I mean. When their attendance was dropping off in a big way is when they attached unto themselves more diabolical plots for maintenance of their creed. But before some might conclude me as bashing, read my posts, and you will see how I criticize my Christian community. Mind you, I’m not a Protestant. My denomination did not originate in the Catholic Church, we’re not “protesting” anything, nah. But the diversity among protestants is a practical thing, look from whence they originate, cut them some slack (not you). One wrong can only father so many different efforts at trying for the brass ring. Consider also the concept of Christianity within the Catholic community; A hard working body of parishioners, citizenry who don’t want to be practioners of the Biblical dictates, but want to attend the “semblance”, wish to believe in their good works leading to entrance into heaven, and buy forgiveness and blessings from man. Wow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miguel, thank you commenting – I enjoyed your response and insights. You walked cautiously in naming things.
      The way things are will end someday:
      Revelation 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
      In the meantime we walk the narrow way, trusting and loving and trying to show others the way.
      Only in the last couple years have I learned that there are Christians who don’t think of themselves as Protestants because of not coming out of the Reformation. I’m learning a lot. Thank you! My view is that they also faced the same beast and affirmed their faith in its presence.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes Maria. Try getting ahold of a little book; “The Trail Of Blood”. You see, there were Churches in outlying provinces when the proclamation went out that Constantine would unite state and Church. Those refused to come and be a part of the creation of the Catholic Church. They paid dearly for it. Persecution reserved for them alone. The Anabaptist, the Rebaptizers, just to name a few who had no seeds with the Catholic Church. Thank you for the Post, loved it. Thank God for your work.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hey Maria!
        Yes, you and I had that very discussion didn’t we? As I told you then, I don’t consider myself to be a Protestant. Miguel made some great points in reinforcing that position. Jesus told Peter about how he would preserve His church, when He told him the gates of Hell would not prevail against her. He never meant His church would go away and come back; He meant it would never go away.

        I gotta tell you Maria, you know how to start a conversation!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Wally, yes, you told me about this book. And yes, I agree completely that the Church never went away and then came back. Her Head, the Lord Jesus, is God Almighty in the flesh and He declared that this would be so and it is:

          Matthew 16:
          13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

          More study needed on my part. You and Miguel perhaps should read The Pilgrim Church by E.H. Broadbent. Right now I’m reading about the Anabaptists, specifically Menno Simon. The Adversary has tried to prevail against the Church. In the case of the Anabaptists, he engineered a movement that looked the same clothes but included sedition and polygamy. It ended up causing more distress and death among the simple Anabaptists who were living by the Bible as a holy people unto the Lord. HOWEVER, the Church is still here and the Lord is with us always even to the end of the world. He knew the suffering would come and the blessed outcome.

          Liked by 2 people

          • One last thing; I tried to say the following but got swallowed up by my own avalanche. The structure the Catholic Church has can be concluded to be like that of a representative of Hell saying, “Hey, so you think you want to worship God, okay then, here is some pseudo thing I will provide; Rituals, costumes, candles, the whole shebang and astounding structures of a breathtaking appearance, imagine…..
            I will be funded by your sacrificed earnings, and large congregations, and here is the great part……
            No consistency will be required on your part. No real compliance. We will do the compliance, suffer the gaudy fabrics and accoutrements etc..
            In fact, if Jesus can represent man before God, we will represent you before God, put your faith in us”
            until you realize you’ve been misled, and that God is a personal God, and Jesus a personal Saviour, likely too late…..

            Liked by 1 person

              • Sadly, if I wish to continue not only in the “practice” of sin, but separated from God, and the power of conviction, I’ll just allow the Catholic Church to fulfill the illusion of my absolution. Acceptation and have to answer to no one’s critique except that of those I buy off to alleviate my conscience. And since it is the human conscience, the God Conscience provided through fellowship, Sonship in Christ, I will be just fine…

                Liked by 1 person

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