Full question by Nikki:
What is the best way to counter Protestant questions about the Catholic faith with scripture references?
It really depends on what the question is. For every objection there is scriptural basis for it. The Church doesn’t teach Sola Scriptura, we believe that tradition is also important to know the will of God, and so not all Catholic teachings will be found explicitly in the Bible, but they are all have foundational evidence in the Bible.
So it’s my opinion that all apologetic arguments need to start with authority. Because without establishing a baseline by what authority you come to conclusions when reading scripture, we can go in endless circles.
You can point out a verse that backs up your position, and then they counter with one that refutes yours. They offer a passage that condemns a Catholic teaching, then you return fire with one that reinforces it. This goes on ad infinitum.
But if you establish the fact that Christ is God, and God is the ultimate authority in the universe (Matthew 28:18), they will agree (and if they don’t agree you can just walk away now). Then you show that Christ promised to, and actually did establish a Church (Matthew 16:18).
Jesus also had 12 apostles whom he gave special authority over, and commissioned them to go as He had been sent by the Father (John 20:22) and even gave them the authority to forgive sins. Peter was the chief of the Apostles, and was given a special position of authority, that was most on displaying tue day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15).
These apostles had a special position of authority to teach the teach the truth and safeguard the Gospel (it was unwritten in the first decades of the Church, but spread without error because of the faithful witness of the Apostles and their successors).
The apostles also commissioned successors to carry on their office after their death. We see this in the election of Mathias (Acts 1) and when Paul ordained Timothy as a Bishop.
Protestants reject all authority except God, when it comes to matters of faith. Some may accept their own church authority for governance purposes, but not for teaching infallibly. When a Protestant interprets scripture, they believe the Holy Spirit will lead them into truth, and this is true, but not how they imagine. If the Holy Spirit was leading all readers of the Bible into truth, there wouldn’t be 30,000 Protestant denominations. But since there is no ultimate authority, they have no one to say they are wrong, because one opinion is no more valid than another.
When Catholics interpret scripture, we do so through the lens of 2000 years of faithful tradition to the teachings of the apostles, when we err, there is a magisterium to say we are wrong, and since it was established by Christ, we can have faith that it will guide us as long as we remain faithful to the teachings of the Apostles.
Every Catholic teaching rises and falls on this bedrock principle.
But in as with all apologetics and evangelism, we have to remember these priceless words of Saint Bernadette,
“My job is to inform, not to convince.”
We can lay out the best argument possible, but we cannot charge hearts, that job we have to entrust to God.
(I wrote this a few years ago about my own struggle with accepting Church Authority. https://nowthatimcatholic.com/2016/05/23/a-matter-of-authority/)