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The Dividing Line
Chapter 11: Roman Catholicism


1Charles Clayton Morrison, "Roman Catholicism and Protestantism," Christian Century, 8 May 1946, p. 585. (return to article)

2Probably the best popular critique of Catholicism from and Evangelical point of view is James G. McCarthy, The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God (Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House, 1995). McCarthy's book is balanced in its language and focuses mainly on doctrinal disagreements between Catholicism and the Scripture. McCarthy's use of the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church makes his work one of the most up-to-date. Norman L. Geisler and Ralph E. MacKenzie, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Disagreements (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995) is also a very good summary of the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism, but the authors are eager to find grounds of agreement and cooperation between Catholics and Evangelicals. An older work, but still useful, particularly on the historical background of Catholicism, is David Schaff, Our Fathers Faith and Ours: A Comparison Between Protestantism and Romanism. 2nd ed. (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1928). (return to article)

3Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians" (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988), p. 84. (return to article)

4Ibid., p. 275. (return to article)

5Edward M. Panosian, "Roman Catholicism: A Philosophy," Focus on Missions, Spring 1992, p. [3]. (return to article)

6Alister McGrath, Evangelicalism and the Future of Christianity (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1995), p. 176. (return to article)

7"Catholic Principles on Ecumenism," in The Documents of Vatican II, ed. Walter M. Abbott (New York: Guild Press, 1966), pp. 343-66. (return to article)

8A good, brief overview of the history, teaching, and significance of Vatican II is H. M. Carson, "Vatican II," in The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, ed. J. D. Douglas (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974), pp. 1012-14. (return to article)

9Cathechism of the Catholic Church (Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference, 1994). References to this catechism in the text are to paragraph numbers, not page numbers. (return to article)

10McGrath, p. 172. (return to article)

11A sympathetic introduction to Promise Keepers is Ken Abraham, Who Are the Promise Keepers? Understanding the Christian Men's Movement (New York: Doubleday, 1997). A balanced critique of the movement from a Reformed perspective is found in David Hagopian and Douglas Wilson, Beyond Promises: A Biblical Challenge to Promise Keepers (Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, 1996). Separatist objections to the movement are well summarized in Douglas R. McLachlan, "Promise Keepers: What's Really at Stake?" Central Testimony, Summer 1995, pp. 1-2, 5. (return to article)

12Mike Aquilina, "Making New Catholic Men?" Our Sunday Visitor, 20 July 1997, pp. 10-11. (return to article)

13The text of ECT was published in Neuhaus's periodical: "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium," First Things, May 1994, pp. 15-22; all references to ECT are from this version. The controversy over ECT is summarized in Geisler and MacKenzie, pp. 491-502. (return to article)

14"Evangelicals and Catholics Together," p. 21. (return to article)

15Ibid., pp. 17-18. (return to article)

16Ibid., p. 16. (return to article)

17The important differences between the Catholic and Protestant views of justification, and the ramifications of those differences, are thoroughly discussed in R. C. Sproul, Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995). Stung by criticisms such as Sproul's, many of the Roman Catholics and Evangelicals involved in ECT met in New York on October 7, 1997, to issue a second document, "The Gift of Salvation," published in Christianity Today, 8 December 1997, pp. 35-38. The statement makes declarations such as the following: "We agree that justification is not earned by any good works or merits of our own"; "In justification, God, on the basis of Christ's righteousness alone, declares us to be no longer his rebellious enemies but his forgiven friends"; "The New Testament makes it clear that the gift of justification is received through faith alone." Finally it concludes, "We understand that what we here affirm is in agreement with what the Reformation traditions have meant by justification by faith alone" (p. 36). However, the document says that one of the questions still to be discussed is "the historic uses of the language of justification as it relates to imputed or transformative righteousness" (p. 38). In other words, it admits that there is yet a gap between the biblical Protestant idea that in justification God declares the sinner righteous on the basis of Christ's righteousness and the Catholic teaching that in justification (which includes sanctification) a person becomes more righteous himself. Also, the document, like the original ECT, views Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as equally valid expressions of Christianity. Furthermore, even if a group of Catholics such as those involved in ECT should be able to accede to a biblical definition of justification, their agreement would not change the official Catholic teaching as expressed in the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, Catechism of the Catholic Church, and other official Catholic documents. (return to article)

18J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (1923; reprint, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), p. 52. (return to article)

19Panosian, p. [2]. (return to article)

20Sproul, pp. 175-92. (return to article)

21McGrath, p. 178. He discusses the idea of Catholic-Evangelical relations on pp. 175-80. (return to article)

22Panosian, p. [3]. (return to article)

The Dividing Line: Understanding and Applying Biblical Separation. By Mark Sidwell. ©1998. BJU Press. Reproduction prohibited. This work is available for purchase at the Bob Jones University Campus Store (phone: 1-800-252-1927; web address:

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