Thursday, April 2, 2020

A Dilemma For The Catholic Unity Argument

        In arguing against Sola Scriptura, Roman Catholic apologists assert that Protestantism is broken up into several thousand denominations because of scriptural interpretation. They propose the pope and Magisterium as the solution to the divisions that exist within Christianity. Even assuming that Catholics are correct in their argumentation (which they are not), there is the question of how absolute unity in the church can be obtained?

        In a society with millions of people where freedom of speech and freedom of conscience exists, there will inevitably be diversity in beliefs. That is simply a logical consequence of a free society. In order to obtain the institutionalized unity that Rome requires, there would have to be coercion and intimidation involved. Otherwise, it is not humanly possible to get.

        There is no denying that Jesus Christ desires unity in the church. He despises factions amongst His people, as such is an indicator of carnality. Truth is of utmost importance. It ought to be sought after at all costs. But we are imperfect beings. Divisions have existed in the church since the time Paul wrote his first epistle to the Corinthians.

        Ironically, Paul never mentioned the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church as being the means of preserving ecclesiastical unity in passages relating to that very topic (Ephesians 4:4-7; Philippians 4:2-3). Jesus Christ does not refer to a Papacy in His prayer to God for unity amongst brethren (John 17). That should make one doubt whether the papal office existed in the first century.


  1. The Roman church claims unity, yet they themselves are divided into 24 different autonomous churches.

    And if we count orders who differ in practices amongst each other, they would be further divided.

  2. Well written Jesse.

    Rome's own claims regarding unity are highly exaggerated. Roman apologists enjoy citing the:

    World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions in the modern world, David B. Barrett, George T. Kurian, Todd M. Johnson, [Oxford University Press, 2001], p. 10.

    Which is where the "11,000 protestant denominations (8,973 - see p. 16)" figure is derived. Of course the same source lists 781 East Orthodox "denominations," and 242 Roman Catholic "denominations."

    If you were to ask a dozen Roman "Catholics" how the various infallible declarations of the Roman Church are intended to be understood, you would receive a dozen different interpretations of those infallible pronouncements. If you were to inquire as to which councils and encyclicals are "authoritative" and which are not, what is and what is not "tradition," or how a particular passage of Scripture is to be understood, you would receive the same variation in responses. Similarly, you find the same rift between theological liberalism and conservatism that occurs in Evangelical Churches.