Differences Between Catholic and Protestant Approaches to the Bible

by Steve Ray on March 10, 2013

“Bible Christians”
(a misnomer, since Catholics are the real and original Bible Christians), based on their recently devised “Reformation” principle of sola Scriptura, study the Bible with the following premises:

1. There is no binding authority but the Bible alone;
2. There is no official binding interpretation or interpreter; each person ultimately is their own pope;
3. The Bible is perspicuous (i.e., easy to understand) and it can be interpreted and understood by anyone.
4. An individual can/should read the Bible and interpret the Bible for themselves.

Catholics have a different set of premises that direct their study of the Bible.

1. The authority of the Apostles and the Church preceded the Bible and the Sacred Tradition of the Church is an equally infallible authority (2 Thes 2:15; CCC 80-83). The Bible is part of the Apostolic Tradition.
2. The authoritative interpretation of the Bible is the prerogative of the Catholic Church (1 Tim 3:15; Mt 18:17; CCC 85-88).
3. The Bible is not always easy to understand (2 Pet 3:15-16) and needs to understood within its historical and contextual framework and interpreted within the community to which it belongs.
4. Individuals can/should read the Bible and interpret the Bible for themselves—but within the framework of the Church’s authoritative teaching and not based on their own “private interpretation” (2 Pet 1:20-21).

These basic differences place the Catholic and Protestant worlds apart even though they are opening the pages of the same book and accepting it as an authoritative revelation from God. The Catholic position is biblical, and has been espoused from the first days of the Church. The Protestant position is unbiblical (assumed from their newly devised tradition) and is of recent origin. The Catholic is in full continuity with historical Christianity; Protestants are in discontinuity.

For the best Catholic Bible software, visit www.Logos.com/steveray

My article “Bible Study: Playground or Minefield? Why We Need the Church”

My article: “How to Start a Parish Bible Study”

“Questions for ‘Bible Christians’”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Robert Gollwitzer March 10, 2013 at 1:41 PM

Excellent and very helpful article that pretty much sums it all up. Can I put that on my homepage?

Thanks in advance!

Greetings from Munich, Germany

Robert

Please feel free to post on your website with link to mine. God bless!

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