Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism
By R. C. Sproul
Reformation Trust Publishing, 2012, 130 pages
Are Catholics Christians? “Well, that’s an ignorant question right out of the 1950s,” some evangelicals would respond. “Of course they’re Christians! They also believe in God, the depravity of man, and Jesus Christ.” Especially in our post-modern age of tolerance, inclusiveness, ecumenism, and doctrinal carelessness and indifference, it’s seen by some as unacceptable, impolite, and overtly sectarian to exclude anyone who names the name of Christ. Yes, Roman Catholicism also teaches about God, sin, Jesus, faith, and grace, but upon closer examination we find the gospel taught by the Catholic church is NOT the same Gospel taught in the New Testament and preached by evangelicals. For faithful Catholics, the gospel is salvation through their church’s sacraments administered by their priests, and then by “cooperating with grace” and obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules rather than the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. That is not a minor, picayune difference. It’s actually the difference between being saved or not. Now, there’s no doubt that some Catholics have genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and are trusting in Him alone, but in doing so they are defying their church’s standard theology.
“None of us can say, …I am already saved.” – Pope Francis, 2015
Over the years, Reformed pastor and theologian, R. C. Sproul, has been vigilant in clarifying the differences between Catholic teaching and the Gospel of grace through faith. He wrote “Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification” (1995) and “Getting the Gospel Right: The Tie That Binds Evangelicals Together” (1999) in response to the ecumenical efforts of Chuck Colson and several other evangelicals to disingenuously bridge the gap between Christians and Catholics, especially in regards to the primary issue of justification/salvation.
In “Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism,” Sproul continues his defense of the Gospel of grace, providing a concise analysis of the major differences between the teachings of Catholics and evangelicals. Chapters examine our opposing views on Scripture, justification, the role of the church, sacraments, the papacy, and Mary. In the past, some evangelical and fundamentalist Protestant critiques of Catholicism were unnecessarily belligerent in tone and did not always accurately present official Catholic teaching. Sproul’s tone is charitable throughout (almost to a fault for this ex-Catholic) and he carefully cites Catholic doctrine as it’s officially defined by Rome. Readers won’t find any “straw man” arguments in this book.
If you’re a Catholic who sincerely seeks to understand the differences between your church’s teaching and the Gospel of grace or if you’re an evangelical who suspects today’s popular slogan, “We all just love Jesus and that overcomes all differences,” may not honor the truths of the Gospel or be helpful to the religious lost, this short book would be an excellent starting point. It’s readily available from Amazon.com.