The Catholic Church is NOT Infallible

There are things the Catholic church teaches I am not likely to ever believe because they run counter to what I know Scripture says about them,

BFHU: This is because you are convinced that you, aided by the Holy Spirit, are able to infallibly interpret these scriptures but the Church founded by Jesus Christ, His apostles and their successors are not able to infallible interpret scripture aided by the Holy Spirit. Now why is that?

but there are those well seasoned teachers within Protestant denominations with whom I have specific issues as well.

BFHU: Why do you think this is? Which of you have the infallible/correct interpretation of Scripture? You or them and how do you KNOW???

There are many things I would not agree with if I came back to the Catholic church

BFHU: How can you KNOW that the Church is wrong and you are right?

the church would expect or require me to submit to the teachings of the Catechism even if it ran counter to conscience. That would be tragic and unbiblical.

BFHU: If your conscience is well-formed and informed you would not be required to go against conscience. But you would have to be responsible to actually understand why the Church teaches what she teaches. After doing my own investigation I found very solid intellectual and sublime reasons and beauty beyond anything in Protestantism. I was able to say, “I will trust the Church Jesus founded rather than my own mind.”

The reality is that thee are those things in Scripture that cause divisions through lack of clarity

BFHU: That is very true, but it is not Scripture that causes division but men who trust their own interpretation of scripture rather than the interpretations that are 2000 years old and come directly from Christ and His apostles. Scripture was never written or meant to be the sole rule of faith as the doctrine of Luther, Sola Scriptura, dictates, since Scripture nowhere proclaims this foundational doctrine of Protest-antism.

I do not believe a person is saved through membership – Catholic or Protestant but I do believe we are members of his ‘Church’.

BFHU: We are saved through baptism as Peter says. I do not believe we are saved by membership in a Church either. But I would much rather be in the Church that has taught the Faith always and everywhere for 2000 years than Protestant churches which have only been around for 500 years, and that is the oldest of them. Calvary Chapel is only about 50 years old.

20 Responses

  1. BFHU

    How do you that the teachings of the Catholic church are completely accurate without proper study? This line of reasoning always causes the same questions to asks of the other side. Let’s remember that the men who are currently expounding on Catholic church teaching are themselves just a few years out of seminary and are generally parroting what their instructors told them to. How does that give you any rest? Your assumption is that when the church says keeps Catholic priests that it is divinely decreed like in Scripture but Scripture admonishes us, individually to study and to test the spirit to make sure it is of God. Neither you nor I will receive any mercy just because we chose to believe what ‘Father Pete’ said last Sunday. and there are rogue Priests, would you not agree and if you do agree, what is it that causes you to magically know that and would you not then ‘rebel’ against his teaching? Be careful; I will give at least one name you won’t disagree with.

    • Dear John, I have to trust that the teaching of the Catholic Church are true. Based on the best historical evidence, I can deduce, Catholic teaching and the Catholic Church seems to be the most worthy of belief and trust. I cannot know beyond a shadow of a doubt. But, then again how can we know that the Bible is really true outside of faith and the best historical evidence. How can I even know that George Washington was the first U.S. President? I did not see him. I can only trust in historical evidence.

      Historical evidence is not worthless it is very, very important. If each of us only believed what we have seen and known scientifically by our own individual investigation we will have to end up knowing very, very little. If the whole culture did this we would devolve back into the stone age.

      Nothing in Catholic Doctrine may contradict Scripture. If I had found any contradiction in the Catholic Doctrines with Scripture, I would NEVER have become Catholic. Catholic doctrine ONLY contradicts Protestant INTERPRETATION and eisegesis. Catholic exegesis is just as sound as Protestant exegesis. Catholic exegesis differs from Protestant exegesis just like one Protestant denomination’s exegesis differs from another denomination.

      The question is: Who’s exegesis is true? They can’t all be true b/c some are mutually exclusive. The only way to settle the question is to find out historically, which exegesis seems to be the closest to what the Jesus and His apostles most likely taught. I will go with the interpretations that date back to apostolic times. And if I am wrong, I abandon myself on the great mercy of God. He knows my heart. I have not evaded the truth. I have followed the Truth where it led. And to the best of my knowledge it has led me to the Church founded by Jesus Christ Himself. The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

    • Dear John,
      Newly ordained priests are not merely “parroting what their instructors told them.” Unless their instructors are heretics and some in some of the seminaries in the last 40 years have certainly taught heterodox if not outright heresy. But, b/c we have a Catechism and the writings of the early Church Fathers anyone can with study learn what the Church has taught for 2000 years. Your idea that Catholic teachings change with each generation or something is not true. Even a seminarian can show his teacher where he is wrong by citing the Catechism and other authoritative documents. This is called fraternal correction and even a layman may respectfully correct his priest. And I myself have done this. This is only possible b/c the Faith is ONE and not priest or bishop is infallible. God certainly will be merciful to those who were led astray by Fr. Pete. The fault and judgment will be on Fr. Pete, not the humble believer. We are not saved by having the perfect theology but we are saved by the mercy of Jesus Christ.

      Yes there certainly are rogue priests, bishops and there have even been some rogue Popes. Knowing this has nothing to do with magic. It is very simple. First, “By their fruit you will know them.” And if their teaching is unorthodox and the believer is well instructed in the faith the believer will know it because they can recognize heterodoxy and/or heresy. But, sometimes one just gets a gut feeling without knowing exactly why a certain writing or teaching of an author or priest is wrong. No magic. Just the Holy Spirit and good catechesis. And I would certainly reject such teaching. First I would do research and meet or write to the priest. If that did not get me anywhere I would write to the Bishop. If that did not stop the heresy I would write to the Vatican. We are even encouraged to do this. I have done all of these things except writing to the Vatican because explicit heresy was not the issue. But I would not hesitate to do so if necessary.

      I would not leave the Church that Jesus founded just because there are sinful,heretical people, priests etc. in that Church.

      If you were Satan who would you target? The priests and bishops of the Church founded by your Enemy or the denominations founded by men? But, of course, Satan also targets Protestant ministers too. Absolutely. That is why so many of them fall as well as our Catholic Priests.

  2. By the way; I don’t consider myself infallible. Don’t try to box the conversation with humanistic reasoning, thT is how we got here by men declaring that other men are infallible ebb though Scripture does not bear it out.

    • John, I KNOW that you don’t consider yourself infallible. But you do consider the Holy Spirit infallible. And, if you are like most Protestant you believe that you are led by the Infallible Holy Spirit. So, therefore you trust your own interpretations b/c you are convinced that you are led by the Holy Spirit to the best of your ability. And you don’t really know about anyone else. So you trust yourself and the Holy Spirit more than anyone else b/c you can’t be sure about anyone else’s diligence to be as great as your own. While this may not be infallibility it is the closest you think you are ever going get to it.

  3. To answer your question about ‘knowing’; some things are incredibly clear and others not but leaning on the wisdom of men-exclusively is not going to get you a pass if in fact they are wrong. What will your answer be to the God of the universe if he tells you you got it wrong? Will your answer be ‘I listened to the infallible leaders of my church’? I am not saying this has an easy answer what I am saying is that the easy answers in life are generally traps and this fromlife’a experience.

    • God knows our hearts. We are responsible to know our faith as well as possible. So, we should do as well as we can to “study and show ourselves approved”. But John, not every person is able to do this. Many people lack the intellectual capacity. God will be merciful to them. And everyone in between the diligent theologian to the humble men and women in the pews, God will judge their hearts. We are not saved by our knowledge or the correctness of our doctrine, per se. We are saved by our faith in Christ.

      • Amen to your last statement! The entire infallibility discussion is exhausted by now. It is indeed the Holy Spirit, indwelling the believer in Jesus Christ who convicts and guides (I hope you saw ‘my tongue in cheek’ with the magic comments). Our disagreement lies in our definition of ‘C’hurch. There are many things and wrongworks for which we are going to be held accountable at the great white throne judgement, but eternally damned for sitting in separate buildings worshipping the same Jesus and the same God is not going to earn anyone hell’s fire.

        There are other doctrines that through introspection, should cause us greater unrest.

        • I agree that no one is going to be “eternally damned for sitting in separate buildings worshiping the same Jesus and the same God”.

  4. John, a good reference point for doctrine is to compare Catholic doctrine with Eastern Orthodox doctrine and Coptic doctrine and Oriental Orthodox doctrine since these went into schism in about 1000AD, 325 AD and 431 AD respectively. If a doctrine is common between these Churches (which have been quite antagonistic to each other until recently), it’s likely an early belief. These Churches agree on 99% of all doctrines (though sometime they’re phrased differently in the case of the Copts and Orientals WRT the Trinity). None accept the Protestant presuppositions which are not also held by Catholics. This should tell you something.

    As for the Bible, the Bible itself is a tradition (i.e. tradition means anything that is handed down), little different from the other traditions that were passed down. The main important of the canon was that it defined the readings that could be used at mass since these readings were useful and doctrinally sound. The Copts and Orthodox have a slightly large canon, mostly because they had a few more readings that were popular than the West did. No big deal since they are also doctrinally sound.

    Anyway, you have to wonder. If the Protestant distinctives popped out of nowhere in the 1500s and they don’t appear in either early writings or other Churches, you have to wonder where they came from and by whose authority they were instituted. An objective observer would say that the distinctive are man made inventions. This doesn’t prove that Catholic and the Copts/OO/EO aren’t also man made inventions (as Liberals claim), but it does discredit Protestantism.

    • Anyway, you have to wonder. If the Protestant distinctives popped out of nowhere in the 1500s

      THis isnt true and you know it Reforms acually started in Jesus day and thier were reformation begaining as early as 800ad. (according to a Catholic Historiann)You need to read more History than Romes

      • The argument for indulgenses were going befor luther, and the marrige of Priest and Nuns way before Luther. and Sola Scriptrue was developed right of Catholic Doctrine to hold clergy accountable for thier many abuses.
        “The clergyman must also be taught how to correctly use the Scriptures”

      • Actually Robert, I do know more history that Rome’s. I almost became Eastern Orthodox. Read up on the Copts which separated from Rome before the Bible was even fully canonized and compiled into one Book and before Constantine could have an effect. They’re a snapshot of the early Church. If they agree with the Catholic Church and Orthodox and they have it wrong, then Bart Erhman is correct and Christianity died immediately after the death of the last apostle and all that’s left is some man made religion.

        BTW, the Copts even have most the same Marian doctrines in a less developed form (e.g. they believe she was assumed into heaven after death, that she was made sinless at least before Jesus was born, that she has an exulted place in heaven, etc).

        WRT indulgences, please read what they are before criticizing them. Luther right protested the abuse of indulgences. But abuses don’t discredit indulgences any more than bad Christians discredit Christianity. Sin kills the soul. There are some acts such as reading the Bible, and being a good Samaritan that help restore the soul and direct it towards God. Such acts are called indulgences. Would you not agree that reading the Bible directs you to God and restores your soul? What some priests started doing at the time of Luther was say giving money to the Church is the primary form of indulgences, which is just plain wrong. You can gain indulgences without giving the Church a cent or paying a penny.

        Ironically, Protestants were actually promoting indulgences through publishing and encouraging the readings of so many Bibles (which weren’t as popular before because you’d cover most of the Bible in the 3 year liturgical calendar if you went to mass every day).

  5. Jesus chanllanged the traditions of His Day its all through the Gosples . But since Catholics read more of the Caticism than the Bible its self nowonder Catholics only Quote Tradition, they never Quote whats in common wich is the word of God Founded 6000 years ago.
    Paul siad we share things in common , Paul wasnt merly taking about material , he was taking about Scriptrue , Besides Jews , Gentials now share as being the People of the Book. Catholics are not people of the Book. They are Chirstians. People of man made traditions.

  6. It acually makes sense , the Cathoilc Chruch knew it was going to loose on the agument that every plowboy and nursemaid ahould have a copy of Scriptrue for thier own use. Modern advancment onley would have made that happen(printing press , Mass media) thier was a need to be a Guding Princeable for the nurse maid and Plowboy , for you cant have Catholic Clergy in your home 24 -7. And Most Catholic Cergy had never themselfs rad the Scriptrue Fact, Only Theologains were required to read Scriptrue. FAct only a small percentage of Catholic Clergy read or even knew antthing of Scriptrue, Tradition supercided scriptrue,

    Luther was a excengent (Theoalogian) He acually had the right by the Office of Papas to exaime Dontrine. And even to come up with New Doctrine. It still had to be approved by the hierarchy but it was within the Catholic Tradition as an appointted excentant to do this. This information is Located in the Majisteriam itself.

    • Hello Robert,

      You really should check your sources first. Here’s the context of “ploughboy and nursemaid.”

      The quote originated from Martin Luther who was becoming increasingly disillusioned and was deploring how “every milkmaid and farmhand” (or nursemaid and ploughboy) were now thinking that they could interpret scripture correctly: “Who, but the devil, has granted such license of wrestling the words of the holy Scripture? Who ever read in the Scriptures, that my body is the same as the sign of my body? or, that is the same as it signifies?” (Luther’s Collected Works, Wittenburg Edition, no. 7, p, 391).

      If I were you, I won’t be so presumptuous about everything, Robert. Take my advice … invest in a good reliable reference book instead of Jack Chick variety of garbage.

  7. Bfhu

    Again, this is not a question of faith in Christ this is a question of placing unswerving faith contemporary man. Scripture can be trusted to be without fault or failure because the various writers of the Gospels and Epistles declare it so. they do not, however declare men to be so. How many Scriptures, old and new Testament do we need declaring the total depravity of man, the heart of man, the old man, the unregenerate man before it becomes clear that man’s word as opposed to the canonical books (which were universally accepted as the inerrant word of God), is unstable and not ‘infallible’. This is not to say we don’t sit under men to learn from them but God’s word and prudence demand scrutiny of these men and their teaching. We-cannot-abandon these mandates to test the spirit of these teachers on the word of sinful man that they are infallible.

    Look, I don’t want this next point to define the argument but it illustrates the point; how many Catholic Priests and their Bishops, Cardinals and maybe even the Pope himself are guilty of sexual sin and the cover up of those sins. Do you believe God still stands by those men in their horrendously sinful state or what they declare from the pulpit in the midst of this sin? Even if he does; are you not the least bit concerned about the kind of men you might be sitting under-unquestioningly? Do I think Protestant Pastors have sin in their lives, some as horrendous as some of the Priests I just mentioned? Yes, but I already know they are imperfect and God has told me as such and by virtue of my reading his word am scrutinizing their teachings through the spirit. No I do not believe my understanding will always be ‘more’ correct and not all things I understand with slight variation is going to be a deal killer. This is nor a witch hunt we have been talking about, it is about giving a level of adoration and trust that should be reserved for God, his Son and the Holy Spirit alone. Respect for the Clergy but remembering they are ailing, failing sinners like all of us. We all need accountability. God commands it.

    • Very well said as usual, John. However, I think that we still need to complete the dotted line …

      In spite of all the “imperfection” of the scribes and Pharisees, here’s what Christ commanded:

      “The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practise and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do …..” (Matt 23:2-3).

      The “Moses’ seat” is a position of legitimate teaching authority held by these “hypocrites,” “blind guides,” “blind fools,” “serpents,” and a “brood of vipers”. But in spite of all the hypocrisy or immorality, Christ still validates these leaders’ office by telling his listeners to obey them.

      Thus, even if some of leaders in the Catholic Church are/were grave sinners, it does not forfeit or abrogate their ordained positions. We have to trust in the faithfulness and promises of God … that He would protect His Church from error in spite of imperfect humans: ” … and the gates of Hades shell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18).

    • I just want to add a comment to what Surkiko said so well. There seems to be some confusion about who Catholics believe to be infallible. We do not think “contemporary man” is infallibie even if he is a priest or bishop. We, in humility may obey a priest even if we don’t agree with him regarding non heretical issues.

      For instance, before I receive communion on the tongue I kneel, then rise and receive on the tongue so that no particle of Jesus hidden in the bread is dropped from my hands to the floor and “trampled underfoot”.

      My pastor had ridiculed receiving on the tongue in public talks, not at mass. But, I as a Catholic have the right to receive on the hand or on the tongue. So I still receive on the tongue.

      My pastor, through an intermediary, exerted pressure not to kneel before Jesus on the altar before going up to help distribute Holy Communion. Everyone bows to the altar when it is empty of Christ’s presence so when He is present I thought I must kneel. But Father insisted that I do what everyone else does. So, I obey.

      His associate, also tried to convince me to only bow my head and not kneel or do a full bow before receiving communion in line. I almost conceded to obey this pressure but I did research and found that I was in my rights as a Catholic to kneel before receiving communion. So, I wrote a letter and included quotations from the documents that supported my position to the associate and probably the pastor was shown my letter as well. I never heard another word about it.

      I in no way believe my pastor is infallible. I do test everything he says. Sometimes he is wrong but most of the time he is teaching the faith accurately.

      Catholics do not give any level of adoration or trust to men that should be reserved to God. We know good and well that our clergy are “ailing, failing sinners like all of us.” Even the Pope goes to confession every week. BUT, I believe and am firmly convinced that God protects His Church from error by preventing the Pope from teaching error regarding FAITH AND MORALS TO THE WHOLE CHURCH.

      God is even able to consecrate the Eucharist through an ordained priest in grave sin who commits further sacrilege by receiving communion in such a state. God will nourish us even when His priests fail and He is able. Consecration is by the power of God through the priest.

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