Ask a serious Protestant today what is the biggest threat to orthodox Christianity today, and he might mention cultural hostilities, the sexual revolution, or nominalism in our churches. But if you would have asked a Protestant the same question a hundred years ago, he would have almost certainly mentioned the Roman Catholic Church. Until fairly recently, Protestants and Catholics in this country were, if not enemies, then certainly players on opposing teams.
Today, much of that animosity has melted away. And to a large extent, the thaw between Protestants and Catholics has been a good thing. Sincere Protestants and Catholics often find themselves to be co-belligerents, defending the unborn, upholding traditional marriage, and standing up for religious liberty. And in an age that discounts doctrine, evangelical Protestants often share more in common theologically with a devout Roman Catholic steeped in historic orthodoxy than they do with liberal members of their own denominations. I personally have benefited over the years from Catholic authors like G. K. Chesterton, Richard John Neuhaus, and Robert George.
And yet, theological differences between Protestants and Catholics are still wide and in places very deep. As the 500th anniversary of the Reformation draws near, it’s important to be conversant with some of the main issues that legitimately divide us, lest we think all the theological hills have been laid low and all the dogmatic valleys made into a plain.
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