I claimed, and still do, that sola scriptura is not responsible for all the doctrinal disagreements between Protestants that my friend and CatholicNick had listed. Rather, I cited varying presuppositions, degree of education, study, spiritual maturity or the sinfulness of the individuals involved as other drivers of doctrinal disagreements. My friend disagreed and reasserted that sola scriptura is the reason. But I had offered an argument, regarding intra-Catholic disagreement regarding free will and predestination. He responded by saying:
“The main problem here is the seeming assumption that these matters must be defined in an "either/or" fashion rather than "both/and." Catholic teaching on matters such as these is often both/and, for example, the Catechism addresses the relationship of freewill and predestination by stating:
To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of "predestination", he includes in it each person's free response to his grace: "In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place" (Acts 4:27-28; Psalms 2: 1-2). For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness. (Matthew 26:54; John 18:36; John 19:11; Acts 3:17-18) (Catechism of the Catholic Church 600)
Freewill and predestination are not in opposition because of the nature of God, we humans only perceive that they are opposed due to the limits of our own understanding.”
This I think only extends the problem. First, the statement in the Catechism is not sufficient to resolve the dispute between Catholic Molinists and Catholic Dominicans. Molinists define freedom in terms of contra-causal power. Bob is able to choose chocolate or vanilla. He is not causally determined to one or the other. Dominicans disagree – they assert God’s concurrence with Bob determines what he will do, such that he cannot do otherwise.
It’s one or the other; it cannot be both. The both/and distinction only works when the two do not contradict each other – if there is a contradiction you must use either/or. We are either free in a Molinist sense or we are not and the catechism does not resolve this dispute.
Second, the Catechism states “to God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy”. This echoes Thomas Aquinas’ ‘eternal now’ doctrine. Certainly, Catholics have disagreed with this. Occham and Molina come to mind off the top of my head. The counter argument is that if God views April 1st as now and I don’t, then my perspective is wrong. It’s impossible for April 1st to be now and not now simultaneously. If God thinks April 1st is now, then it’s now. So my view that April 1st is future is God playing an April fool’s joke on me by making me think it’s future when it’s actually now.
Now I think the ‘eternal now’ doctrine is wrong, but my point isn’t to argue that. For my present point, it’s enough for me to note that other Catholics have disagreed with it as well. And it doesn’t seem to matter that they do, because 1) the Catechism is fallible and 2) in this case the Catechism is not underwritten by supposed infallible documents. So the Catechism can’t resolve this one.
But what about cases in which the Catechism is underwritten by supposed infallible documents? My friend uses the example of the Mass. Well, first off, if we limit the scope to only issues Rome has infallibly defined, we pair the list down quite a bit – I am guessing only a handful of items would remain. And that would go to my original point that most of the theological disagreements were not caused by sola scriptura.
The remaining items that are infallibly defined by Rome (and not also by scripture) are all examples of Rome causing division where scripture does not, because infallible definitions are affixed with anathemas.