The Table Briefing: Seven Key Differences Between Protestant And Catholic Doctrine -- By: Darrell L. Bock

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 171:683 (Jul 2014)
Article: The Table Briefing: Seven Key Differences Between Protestant And Catholic Doctrine
Author: Darrell L. Bock

The Table Briefing: Seven Key Differences Between Protestant And Catholic Doctrine

Darrell L. Bock


Mikel Del Rosario

Darrell L. Bock is Senior Research Professor in New Testament Studies and Executive Director of Cultural Engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas. Mikel Del Rosario is cultural engagement assistant.

According to a recent U.S. Religious Landscape Survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, about half as many Catholics as Protestants live in America today.1 But why make this distinction? Don’t both groups hold to essentials of the Christian faith, like the deity, death, and resurrection of Jesus? What is the difference between what Protestants believe and what Catholics believe?

While Protestants and Catholics agree on who Jesus is, at least seven key issues continue to distinguish their historic beliefs and practices. In a Table Podcast series entitled “Comparing Roman Catholicism with Protestantism,” Darrell Bock, Scott Horrell, and Michael Svigel discuss seven important distinctives of both traditions. The following briefing is based on their conversation.

The Magisterium

In a segment entitled “The History and Organization of the Roman Catholic Church,” Bock begins:

Bock: [The Roman Catholic Church] is a church that has developed its doctrine . . . around . . . the magisterium, the tradition coming alongside the Scripture to develop the mechanism

of the church—the hierarchy of the church.”

Horrell: The Magisterium (is) the official teaching dogmatic body of the Roman Catholic Church. Usually, it’s related to the cardinals, and finally the large house of cardinals and the leading theologians in the movement; but finally, that all comes under, of course, the pope himself. But the Magisterium is the authoritative interpreter of not only Scripture, but Roman Catholic tradition.

Furthermore, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “the Roman Pontiff and the bishops are ‘authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ.’ ”2 Moreover: “The infallibility of the Magisterium of the Pastors extends to all the elements of doctrine, including moral doctrine, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, expounded, or observed.”3

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