The Catholic Church has four Marian Dogmas and claims that the Church was guided and its teaching was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

CCC95 says,

It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.

Pastor aeternus teaches that the Pope is guided by the charism of the Holy Spirit and upheld infallibility in proclaiming Church Dogma.

We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, irreformable. — Pastor aeternus

How come the Protestant and Christian denominations or Bible alone believers who oppose these Dogmas claim that they are also guided by the same Holy Spirit?

Is the Holy Spirit that guided the Catholic Church in proclaiming the Marian Dogmass the same Holy Spirit that were inspiring Protestant and Christian denominations to oppose it?

How can the Protestant defend themselves on this obvious contradiction, knowing fully that there are no Protestant pastors and believers who can claim infallibility in their scripture interpretations?

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    The dogma you refer to are each argued against with individual, logical arguments, using scripture. Those who argue in such a way will believe they are being inspired in their argument. I don't see why they would need to 'defend' their inspiration. They only need to defend their argument with logic and with scripture.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 9, 2019 at 10:13
  • Individual Protestant claimed their interpretation was guided by the Holy Spirit in interpreting scriptures, right? How come it opposes the Holy Spirit inspiration from the Catholic Church, in particular Marian Dogma's? Are we talking about the same Holy Spirit or they are guided by a different spirit? Sep 9, 2019 at 10:25
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    I surmise that each party would suggest that the other is guided by a spirit other than the Holy Spirit.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 9, 2019 at 10:55
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    Your question relates to the reason for the Protestant Reformation. Luther for instance denied that the Papacy was a divine institution which had been established by Christ. He argued that the Christian church had been led astray by the popes who had misinterpreted Scripture and taught false doctrines. It therefore follows that he, and those who agree with him (like myself), deny that the popes are inspired by the Holy Spirit when they define dogma.
    – Eddie
    Sep 9, 2019 at 19:56
  • @Eddie The question was asking for Marian Dogma's. I think Luther never contradicted any Marian Dogma's in his time, on the contrary he is known to affirmed the Marian Dogma's. Luther's Marian theology en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luther%27s_Marian_theology Sep 12, 2019 at 9:47

5 Answers 5


I would like to first clarify your statements:

1.) Make sure before asking that the specific examples you’re thinking of actually directly cite the Holy Spirit. For example, I’ve read some things written by the Assemblies of God, which is huge into guidance from the Holy Spirit; however, if you look at rules and official interpretations from leadership, they usually read as a list of relevant scripture verses, who was present when decisions were made, who signed off on said decisions, and and how this effects previous decisions. No vague statements like ‘the Spirit said so’. You may hear individuals cite the Holy Spirit in their decisions, but people have varying degrees of competence when it comes to hearing the Holy Spirit, and just because one pastor says it doesn’t make it an official stance of the church. As Christianity teaches an emphasis on a personal relationship with God, I find we’re not always the best at stopping and really cross-examining what we’re saying about God when we’re passionate about something. We tend to err on the side of using God’s name too casually.

2.) Catholicism would qualify as a “Christian denomination” as it is a part of Christianity. I’ve seen Catholicism and Christianity described separately in books about world religions, but this is only for clarity’s sake. Any definition you find of “Christianity” is going to apply to Catholicism. I point this out because it is important to remember that the different groups are both a part of Christianity. Even if it doesn’t always work out this way in the real world, there’s no rule that says Catholics and Protestants can’t work side-by-side, or both advance the Kingdom of God.

Now, there’s no perfect answer to your question, short of reading each individual theologian’s mind then getting God’s written input. The Holy Spirit is very real, but it usually isn’t experienced with any of the 5 senses. This can make dividing the spirit’s calls from you own thoughts very difficult at times. These are the possible solutions: 1.) someone is lying; 2.) someone genuinely believes they are led by the spirit to the best of their understanding, but didn’t get it exactly right; 3.) both solutions were provided by the Spirit and their seeming incompatibility is something we are not able to understand from our limited experience. To state my personal belief, I think that, like most churches, some of what is believed by the Catholic Church is Spirit-led and some is in error. We’re weak, limited humans, and God is very forgiving that we don’t all understand everything, but simply do the best we can. I think you might read John Godfried Sax’s poem, “The Elephant and the Blind Man,” which, although a humor poem, is essentially about how a group of people can honestly give their information about something they cannot fully comprehend, and come up with baffling seeming contradictions.


... and claimed that the Church was guided and it's teaching was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

How come ... who oppose this Dogma's claimed they are also guided by the same Holy Spirit.

First of all I have to apologize if I didn't understand your question correctly.

As far as I understand your question correctly, you have problems with the following argumentation:

  1. If somebody is "guided by the Holy Spirit", he or she does not make any mistakes.

  2. By using the word "also" the Protestants claim that both Protestants and Catholics are guided by the Holy Spirit.

  3. The conclusion of statement (1) and claim (2) is that neither Protestants nor Catholics may make any mistakes; this means that their dogmas cannot contradict.

  4. The fact that both dogmas contradict shows that claim (2) cannot be true.

If my understanding of your question is correct, it depends on how you define the word "to guide":

  • You may define that "guided by the Holy Spirit" means that the Holy Spirit will prevent her or him from making any mistakes.
    In this case both Protestants, the majority of Catholic faithful and a large number of Catholic priests will deny that the Catholic and/or Protestant church is "guided by the Holy Spirit" (in the way you define the word "to guide").
    The claim (2) would not be made by anybody.

  • You may define that "guided by the Holy Spirit" means something different.
    ... and I guess that Protestants do so.
    In this case the the first statement would be wrong.


The Opening Post has created a red herring fallacy by assuming, rather than proving, that the Holy Spirit guides the Catholic Church and indeed the Protestant churches. Indeed, the Catholic Church says (bold mine) it is guided by its Magesterium (its "living teaching office"); as such, it is a denial of being led by the Spirit.

85 "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ."47 This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome. Catechism

Basically, the Catholic Church is saying exactly the same as Protestants; that is, the task of interpretation is given to successors, though not of the same traditions.


Bold mine.

86 "Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.

The unproven assumption in this bald claim is the apostles taught the Marian dogmas that were formalized by the Catholic Church some 1800 years later than the apostles. Obviously to anyone is that those teachings were not extant in Christ's or His disciples' times.

And of course the Catholic Church attempts to get around their bald claim by introducing next the idea, also contrary to scripture, of "growth in understanding the faith".

Growth in understanding the faith

94 Thanks to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the understanding of both the realities and the words of the heritage of faith is able to grow in the life of the Church:

  • "through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts";57 it is in particular "theological research [which] deepens knowledge of revealed truth".58

  • "from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which [believers] experience",59 the sacred Scriptures "grow with the one who reads them."60

  • "from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth".61

95 "It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls."

Here we find what drives the Catholic introductions of new dogmas (like the Marian ones) that do not source to the living waters from the fountain of truth; its Magisterium. Their "living office" was shown under CCC 85 wherein it says the interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops. Of course, it will say the actions and assistance of the Spirit helps, but their truth is it is their bishops' decisions that matter.

In sum, it is not the Spirit guiding groups, including the Orthodox, into contradictary dogmas from other groups. It is men/women, just as has been admitted.

  • Being guided by one thing/ person does not preclude being guided by another. It is possible to be guided by both Majesterium and the Spirit. Sep 9, 2019 at 21:51
  • @DJClayworth while one may think so, the catechism is quite clear about who is doing the leading; that is, the bishops. Had it meant to say by bishops and the Spirit or even bishops led by the Spirit, it would have done so. The OP has dangled bait; don't fall for it.
    – SLM
    Sep 10, 2019 at 3:46
  • Also that's not a Red Herring, it's a False Premise. Sep 10, 2019 at 12:35
  • Oh it's a red herring by directing attention to a false premise (two contradictory groups being led by the same Spirit). The red herring is the introduction of a misleading idea (led by the Spirit). The fact is, as I quoted, the Catholic Church claims NOT to be led by the Spirit, but by its bishops. Hence, this is why there's contradiction. It's not the Spirit who is at fault.
    – SLM
    Sep 10, 2019 at 18:37
  • I have to agree with SLM – the question introduces a false premise and so there is no “obvious contradiction” as claimed.
    – Lesley
    Sep 11, 2019 at 16:47

How can Protestants claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit in contradicting Marian Dogmas?

To remind myself as much as anyone, briefly, the four Marian Dogma's are:-

  1. The Divine Motherhood, Mary can be called "the Mother of God";

  2. Her Perpetual Virginity; her marriage with Joseph was never consummated;

  3. Her Immaculate Conception, Mary was free from original sin;

  4. Her Assumption into Heaven, Mary ascended into Heaven by the power and grace of God.

These teachings the Roman Catholic Church teaches it received from the Holy Spirit, a very normal and natural claim if it is true, but an extremely blasphemous claim if it is not true.

I believe that behind these teachings is another teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, namely, that the Church chose which writings were the Scriptures of God, and that the Church therefore has authority over the doctrines of God and by extension the Church has authority over the Scriptures. The Protestant Churches deny this authority: for us who are Protestant, it is the Scriptures which have authority over the Church; the Church did not choose the Scriptures, but rather the Scriptures are self-authenticating and chose themselves. When believers selected which writings are divine they merely recognised the Scriptures for what they are, they did not have any authority in choosing them.

For the Protestant adding "Christian" doctrines which are not found in Scripture is heresy. The Scriptures are our sole authority in matters relating to our faith. This we gather from the Scripture itself:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

From this Scripture we understand that the believer is fully equipped by the Scriptures alone. It is through the Scriptures that the man of God is made "complete" and "thoroughly equipped". This verse of the Bible, tells us very clearly that the man of God, the believer in Christ, is completely, thoroughly equipped for every good work through the Scriptures alone. There is no need for any additional tradition or teaching; in fact such teachings, in that they are a distraction from the Scriptures are dangerous and wrong.

The question might legitimately be asked "Why would any believer want to add anything to God's Word?" About the Word of God the Psalmist says:

the judgements of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned, and in keeping them is great reward (Psalm 19:9-11).


The law of thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver (Psalm 119:72).

There are many similar sentiments expressed throughout Psalm 119.

Our Lord Jesus, in the Scriptures, tells us what is the role of the Holy Spirit:

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me. (John 15:26)

And also

He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (John 14:26).

The Holy Spirit, then, only reminds us of what is said in the Scriptures: it is no longer his intention or role to give us new doctrine, but merely to remind us of what has already been given through the Word of God, the Scriptures.

There are only a few more words to add. In Proverbs we read these words:

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar (Proverbs 30:6).

The same sentiment is found at the very end of the Bible, where our Lord Jesus says:

For I testify unto every man that hears the word of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

I would say the Roman Catholic Church needs to make a public confession of its folly in adding doctrine which cannot be substantiated from the Scriptures.

For more on "The Divine Motherhood of Mary" see: Why do Protestants not refer to Mary by the title "Mother of God"?

and for more on "Mary's Perpetual Virginity" see: How does Protestant Church explain Luke 2:48?

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    Are you sure the Catholic Church committed folly in Marian Dogma's? None of the Protestant founders contradicted it like Luther,Zwingli,etc. The contradiction does not come from the founders of Protestanism but it seems develop when the divisions grows into 33,000 denominations. Also St.Paul never teaches scripture alone in 2Thessalonians2:15 as the gospel was not complete narration of Jesus works John21:25. So, CCC95 is uphelding the Apostolic teachings by relying both on Sacred Word & Sacred Traditions. Sep 13, 2019 at 0:40
  • What matters is what the Scriptures say. Sep 13, 2019 at 4:12
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    @ianjoseph198 Luther did contradict the Roman Catholic dogma of the Assumption of Mary. He said in a sermon: "The feast of the ascension of Mary is completely papist, that is, full of blasphemy and established without any grounding in Scripture. For that reason we have let it lapse in our churches...But we Christians do not know of any ascension that we can enjoy except for that of our dear Lord Jesus Christ..." beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2016/05/…
    – Eddie
    Sep 13, 2019 at 21:44
  • What is Luthgli? Why should you or I care for anything like this? What matters is what the Scriptures say. Sep 14, 2019 at 8:19
  • @Eddie Catholic Church do not teach "ascension of Mary". Do not spread the error of protestantism. Sep 14, 2019 at 10:09

My answer is simpler than the other excellent arguments given above. In Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul says:

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

The assumption is that unity in the faith is a process and is guided by the Holy Spirit. The Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit and is inerrant, but we Christians, guided by the same Holy Spirit are not YET inerrant in our understanding. It is not the Holy Spirit that teaches error, but our own sinful nature that must be purified over time that distorts the message. Those distortions will eventually be replaced by perfect truth.

As for the four Marian doctrines, before today, I did not believe in any of them. After carefully studying the matter this week, I am nearly persuaded of number 2, "Her Perpetual Virginity". I will pursue it further, because it seems important. That is how the Holy Spirit works at a different pace and on different doctrines in the lives of Protestants and Catholics. Remember - if the Catholic Church believed it had all the truth it will ever need, there would be no place in it for tradition either, because all doctrine would be complete. God works on each of us in His own unique way.

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