Having just celebrated the Reformation, please indulge me as I belabor the central issue yet again. I’ll do so by asking this question. Do you believe that, today, there is really very little difference between a Protestant and a Catholic, as it pertains to Christianity?
I guess that depends on what has changed since the sixteenth century? The good news is that Catholicism has remained solidly steadfast on certain key issues of Christian orthodoxy, such as the deity of Christ, His substitutionary atonement, and the inspiration of the Bible. And, with that said, we unfortunately have seen many Protestant liberals completely abandoned those doctrines. We also see that Catholicism has remained steadfast on critical moral issues such as abortion. But the bad news is that as it relates to the key doctrine of justification by faith alone, nothing has changed, not even a little bit.
This is key because it is at the very heart of gospel truth. It’s of utmost importance because it has to do with the answer to the question, “what must I do to be saved?” It’s important for you to know that as it relates to that issue – the central issue of what the Reformation was all about – there has been no change. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church affirmed at the counsel of Trent and continues to affirm now that the basis by which God will declare a person just or unjust is found in one’s “inherent righteousness.” And, that my friend, is a deal killer. The Catholic church continues to deny that justification is based on Christ alone, received by faith alone, and given by grace alone.
The word protestant is derived from the word protest. The definition of protest is “a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something”. If there is no longer a reason to protest, then we can drop our signs, as it were, and all get along. But if the central issue that brought about the protest in the first place has not changed, then the protest should continue.
Paul says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). The Heidelberg Catechism, written in 1563 – a Protestant confessional document – says, “all the time He lived on earth, but especially at the end of His life, He bore, in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race”
I agree, so I’m still protesting!
“For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed–a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” Romans 1:17