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Evangelicals, Catholics and Unity: Today's Issues (Today's Issues) Paperback – March, 1999
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This tract by Michael Horton has a good apologetic spirit: a genuine concern for telling the truth in love. There is an excellent and, I think, accurate summary of Rome's position viz ecumenism on page 38:
"When the pope [Note: lower case!] prays for unity, what he is asking is that Protestants will cease to be Protestants, that the "separated churches" will at last recognize their heresy and schism and return to submission to his authority. This is not because the pope is arrogant or crafty, but because the Roman doctrine of the church requires this position. That position has been stoutly defended by the magisterium up to the present hour. "
The logic of the paper is impeccable. The overall syllogism is:
Premise Scripture explicity anathematizes salvation by works
Premise Rome teaches salvation by works
Conclusion Therefore, Rome must be anathema.
Note that "anathema" is not a curse, but simply means "not in union with us".
I am writing this because I see a problem with premise two. The arguments against the Magisterium also suffer from some false premises.
Does Rome teach salvation by works?
While arguing that Rome teaches salvation by works, Horton notes on page 25 that Rome successfully resisted Pelagianism in the fourth century. The implicit thesis here seems to be that Rome "fell away" from truth sometime before the Reformation.
On page 26, Horton outlines a shift in vocabulary that took place with the Latin Vulgate.Read more ›
Primarily as then, Rome's insistence on adding to Scripture alone as the only source of theology; of adding to grace and faith alone as the only source of salvation, continues to erect a huge, major divide between the two. As Horton correctly quotes Avery Dulles in Rome's continued holding to the anathemas of Trent as still prevailing now in Vatican II times, this is absolutely Rome's position.
My own church speaks in detail about this. See "The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in Confessional Lutheran Perspective" available at [...] or read Robert Preus' excellent work: Justification and Rome.
"Evangelicals, Catholics, and Unity" by Reformed theologian, Michael S. Horton, was first published in 1999 in response to ECT. Horton argues that the two main issues that fueled the Reformation, 1) Sola Scriptura versus the Catholic church's traditions and its magisterium and 2) salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus ALONE versus salvation by grace plus works, remain as irreconcilable differences. Horton cites additional differences very briefly.
This is an extremely short book (56 pages) that you'll finish in one sitting but it serves as a valuable introduction to the topic. Interested readers may wish to follow up with more extensive responses to ECT including "The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God" (1995) by James G. McCarthy, "The Roman Catholic Controversy" (1996) by James R. White, and "Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism" (2012) by R. C. Sproul. See my review of McCarthy's "The Gospel According to Rome" for a long list of books which examine Catholicism.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I find this booklet on 'Today's Issues'(the organization behind the publishing of these booklets is the Alliance Of Confessing Evangelicals)to be one of the weaker contributions in... Read morePublished on May 28, 2013 by Joseph J.Adrian
The authors present a helpful picture of church unity at the end of the millenium. Far from being anti-Catholic, the authors point out differences in the core beliefs of the... Read morePublished on March 28, 2000