A Line in the Sand
Yes, Protestantism is still at odds with Catholicism. And the Reformation is not over. The Reformation was founded on two major principles. First, the material principle is justification by God's grace alone, appropriated through faith alone.
The Roman Catholic church and Protestant churches continue to disagree on the principle of how one is made right before God. Roman Catholic theology believes that justification is not only the remission of sins, but also sanctification and the renewal of the internal person.
Our formal principle is Scripture alone as our only and ultimate authority—Divine revelation.
Roman Catholic theology thus fuses forgiveness, sanctification, regeneration, and renewal, and therefore is not a biblical view of justification. As Protestants, we believe that justification is God's declaration that we're not guilty, but righteous instead. So, we continue to diverge on this key principle of Protestantism: how one is made right before God.
We also disagree on the formal principle of Protestantism, that is sola scriptura—Scripture alone. In other words, we disagree on the nature of Divine revelation for the people of God, the source of authority for knowing God and his way.
Roman Catholicism believes in Scripture plus tradition. They subscribe to the belief that Jesus’s orally communicated teachings to his apostles were orally communicated to their successors, the bishops of the Catholic Church. This tradition is nourished and proclaimed by the Catholic Church today.
Protestants disagree. Our formal principle is Scripture alone as our only and ultimate authority—Divine revelation. While we continue to disagree on these two major principles, the Reformation is not over.
- Does the Reformation Still Matter? (Stephen J. Nichols)
- 10 Things You Should Know about the Reformation (Tim Chester)
- Reformed Catholics (J. V. Fesko)