Are Catholics and Evangelicals together or apart?

Anglicans are positioned between Rome and Geneva, which means we are both Catholic (in some respects) and Calvinist (in other respects). To those outside the Anglican fold, this may sound like incoherence, at best, and madness, at worst. Anglicans are cautious about throwing out the baby with the bathwater, so we attempt, however imperfectly, a via media between the excesses of Catholicism and Protestantism. My priest describes Anglicanism as Reformed Catholic – an expression which reinforces that the Reformation mattered historically, as The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion attests, and still matters, as Anglican Cathechisms attest (An Outline of the Faith or To Be a Christian).

Here is a bibliography of titles that assess the relationship between Catholics and Evangelicals today.

  • Gregg R. Allison, Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment. In this balanced volume, Gregg Allison—an evangelical theologian and church historian—helps readers understand the nuances of Roman Catholic teaching. Walking through the official Catechism of the Catholic Church, Allison summarizes and assesses Catholic doctrine from the perspective of both Scripture and evangelical theology. Noting prominent similarities without glossing over key differences, this book will equip Christians on both sides of the ecclesiastical divide to fruitfully engage in honest dialogue with one another.
  • Mark A. Noll & Carolyn Nystrom, Is the Reformation Over? An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism (Baker Academic, 2008). For the last few decades, Catholics and Protestants have been working to heal the wounds caused by centuries of mistrust. In this work, a Christianity Today 2006 Book Award winner, premier Christian historian Mark Noll and Carolyn Nystrom provide a critical evaluation of post-Vatican II Roman Catholicism and its relationship to the evangelical church. While not ignoring significant differences that remain, the authors provide a clarion call for a new appreciation among evangelicals of the current character of the Catholic Church. This landmark book will appeal to those interested in the ongoing dialogue between Catholicism and evangelicalism, students of church history and/or contemporary theology, and pastors and church leaders.
  • Timothy George & Thomas G. Guarino, Evangelicals and Catholics Together at Twenty: Vital Statements on Contested Topics (Brazos Press, 2015). Founded by Charles Colson and Richard John Neuhaus in 1994, Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) has fostered a fruitful conversation on the meaning of the gospel in today’s world. Over the course of twenty years, ECT has issued nine statements addressing contemporary topics. This one-volume guide, the first collection of the ECT statements, explores the key accomplishments of this groundbreaking, ongoing dialogue. Introductions and notes provide context and discuss history and future prospects. The book also includes prefaces by J. I. Packer and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, a foreword by George Weigel, and an epilogue by R. R. Reno and Kevin J. Vanhoozer.
  • Thomas R. Schreiner, Faith Alone – The Doctrine of Justification: What the Reformers Taught and Why It Still Matters (Zondervan, 2015). Historians and theologians have long recognized that at the heart of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation were five declarations, often referred to as the ‘solas’: sola scriptura, solus Christus, sola gratia, sola fide, and soli Deo gloria. These five statements summarize much of what the Reformation was about, and they distinguish Protestantism from other expressions of the Christian faith. Protestants place ultimate and final authority in the Scriptures, acknowledge the work of Christ alone as sufficient for redemption, recognize that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, and seek to do all things for God’s glory. In Faith Alone—The Doctrine of Justification renowned biblical scholar Thomas Schreiner looks at the historical and biblical roots of the doctrine of justification. He summarizes the history of the doctrine, looking at the early church and the writings of several of the Reformers. Then, he turns his attention to the Scriptures and walks readers through an examination of the key texts in the Old and New Testament. He discusses whether justification is transformative or forensic and introduces readers to some of the contemporary challenges to the Reformation teaching of sola fide, with particular attention to the new perspective on Paul. Five hundred years after the Reformation, the doctrine of justification by faith alone still needs to be understood and proclaimed. In Faith Alone you will learn how the rallying cry of “sola fide” is rooted in the Scriptures and how to apply this sola in a fresh way in light of many contemporary challenges.
  • Christopher A. Castaldo, Talking with Catholics About the Gospel (Zondervan, 2015). In Talking with Catholics about the Gospel, author Chris Castaldo provides an easy-to-follow introduction to basic Catholic belief and practice, equipping evangelical Protestants for more fruitful spiritual conversations. Written in accessible, non-technical language, this short book offers readers: a more informed awareness of Catholicism; encouragement to move from a combative posture to a gracious one; clarification of erroneous caricatures of Catholics in favor of a more constructive understanding. Based in part on Castaldo’s experience as a Catholic and time spent working professionally in the Catholic Church, Talking with Catholics about the Gospel gives readers a framework for recognizing where lines of similarity and difference fall between Catholics and evangelical Protestants, along with handy tips for engaging in spiritual discussions. Readers will gain encouragement and practical insights for gracious and worthwhile discussions of faith with Catholic believers.
  • R. C. Sproul, Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism (Reformation Trust Publishing, 2012). In recent years, some evangelical Protestant leaders have signed statements pledging themselves to joint social action with Roman Catholics. Others have refused to participate, declaring that, in their view, the statements went too far, touching on the gospel, which remains a point of disagreement between Protestants and Roman Catholics. Many evangelical Christians have found themselves confused by the different directions taken by their leaders. In Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism, R.C. Sproul takes his stand for the cardinal doctrines of Protestantism in opposition to the errors of the Roman Catholic Church. Sproul, a passionate defender of the gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, cites the historic statements of the Protestant Reformers and the Roman Catholic authorities, then references modern doctrinal statements to show that the Roman Catholic Church has not altered its official positions. In light of this continuing gap, he writes, efforts by some in the evangelical camp to find common ground with Rome on matters at the heart of the gospel are nothing short of untrue to biblical teaching. In Sproul’s estimation, the Reformation remains relevant. Are We Together? is a clarion call to evangelicals to stand firm for the gospel, the precious good news of salvation as it is set forth in Scripture alone.

Audio

  • R. C. Sproul, Roman Catholicism. The Roman Catholic Church claims to be the one, true church established by Jesus Christ. The Reformers of the sixteenth century rejected this claim, pointing to numerous conflicts between Scripture and Roman Catholic doctrine and practice. What are the differences that divide Roman Catholics and Protestants? Are they important? In this series, Dr. R.C. Sproul carefully and respectfully looks at the doctrines that are at the heart of the Catholic-Protestant divide.
  • R. C. Sproul, Justification by Faith Alone. The doctrine of justification by faith alone is at the center of Reformation theology, and remains critical for all believers today. This doctrine is continually under assault, yet without it, there is no gospel. In this lecture series, Dr. Sproul explores the doctrine of justification historically and theologically. He carefully defines each term in the phrase “justification by faith alone” while pointing to the imputation of a perfect righteousness found only in Jesus Christ.

Other books

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