What if Protestants are actually orthodox by Roman Catholic standards? After all, both sets of western Christians affirm the Nicene Creed and some of us actually use it as the basis for catechetical instruction. Is the difference simply that Protestants are not in fellowship with the Bishop of Rome? And is it that Protestants will not engage in acts of devotion prescribed by the pope and his bishops?
This doesn’t seem to bother one convert to Roman Catholicism who is not as intent on proving the inferiority of Protestants as some are (it must be a boomer thing):
The following questions do not divide Protestants and Catholics—and they are the most important questions of all—but they do divide the orthodox from the Modernist in both churches:
Is God a transcendent, supernatural, personal, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, providential, loving, just Creator? Or is God an immanent cosmic force evolving in nature and man?
Do miracles really happen? Or has science refuted them? A transcendent God can perform miracles; a merely immanent, naturalistic God cannot. The three great miracles essential to orthodox Christianity are the Incarnation, the Resurrection and the new birth.
Is there a heaven? Or is heaven just all the good on earth?
Does God really love me? Or is that just a helpful sentiment?
Does God forgive my sins through Christ? Or is sin an outdated concept? In other words, is Christ a mere human example or a Savior from sin?
Is Christ divine, eternal, from the beginning? Or is he only divine “as all men are divine”?
Did he physically rise from the dead? Or is the Resurrection only a myth, a beautiful symbol?
Must we be born again from above to be saved, to have God as our Father? Or is everyone saved automatically? Does everyone have God as Father simply by being born as a human being, or by being reasonably nice during life?
Is Scripture God’s word to us? Or is it human words about God? Does it have divine or human authority behind it? And can an ordinary Christian understand its true meaning without reading German theologians?
Most important of all, can I really meet God in Christ? If I ask him to be my Lord, the Lord of my life, will he really do it? Or is this just a “religious experience”? This question is really one with the question: Did Christ really rise from the dead? That is, is he alive now? Can I say: “You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart!”?
Affirmative answers to these questions constitute the most important kind of unity already: not unity of thought but unity of being, the new being, being “in Christ”.
If Protestants are “in Christ,” why do so many Roman Catholic apologists try to make their brothers look bad or foolish (or both)?
A more pressing question is if Christ and the sovereign work of God are so important for life’s big questions, then why do descriptions of Roman Catholicism say so little about Jesus? Take the priests’ exposition of Roman Catholicism for the Dummies’ series. Here’s a snapshot of the 9 Essentials of Being a Catholic:
Being a devout Catholic means abiding by Catholic teachings, attending Mass every Sunday (or Saturday night) as well as on holy days of obligation, seizing opportunities to receive sacraments, avoiding sin, and practicing Catholic virtues. As a devout Catholic, you need to know key Catholic prayers, have a working knowledge of the Ten Commandments, and take an active part in your parish.
Basic Beliefs of Catholicism
Catholics are, first and foremost, Christians who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Catholicism shares some beliefs with other Christian practices, but essential Catholic beliefs include the [MORE…]
Basic Requirements for Catholics
As a Catholic, basically you’re required to live a Christian life, pray daily, participate in the sacraments, obey the moral law, and accept the teachings of Christ and his Church. Following are the minimum [MORE…]
The Seven Sacraments of Catholicism
A sacrament in the Catholic Church is a rite Catholics believe was established by Jesus Christ. The seven sacraments of the Catholic Church are its most sacred and ancient rites of worship. Receiving a [MORE…]
A Look at Key Catholic Prayers
Catholics say many of the same prayers other religions do, with some variations. The key Catholic prayers are either part of the Mass, during which many prayers are sung, or part of praying the rosary. [MORE…]
Holy Days of Obligation in the Catholic Church
On holy days of obligation, Catholics are obliged to participate in Mass. Every Sunday is a holy day of obligation, as are six other days throughout the year. In the United States, these holy days of obligation [MORE…]
Catholicism and the Ten Commandments
According to Exodus in the Old Testament, God issued his own set of laws (the Ten Commandments) to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Ten Commandments are considered [MORE…]
Cardinal Virtues of the Catholic Church
A virtue is a habit that perfects the powers of the soul and disposes you to do good. Catholics believe that divine grace is offered to the soul, because without God’s help, humans can’t do good on their [MORE…]
Mortal and Venial Sins in the Catholic Church
In the Catholic Church, sins come in two basic types: mortal sins that imperil your soul and venial sins, which are less serious breaches of God’s law. The Church believes that if you commit a mortal sin [MORE…]
The Role of the Laity in the Catholic Church
The Catholic Church operates on a hierarchy with the pope at the top and laity at the bottom. Despite the bottom-rung status, the laity compose the majority of the Church. [MORE…]
Before, vd, t concludes yet again that I am the real dummie, I did notice that this list begins with Jesus Christ as the son of God. But why don’t the priests talk about Jesus Christ as savior the way Kreeft does? Here’s the rest of the page on basic beliefs:
Catholics are, first and foremost, Christians who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Catholicism shares some beliefs with other Christian practices, but essential Catholic beliefs include the following:
The Bible is the inspired, error-free, and revealed word of God.
Baptism, the rite of becoming a Christian, is necessary for salvation — whether the Baptism occurs by water, blood, or desire.
God’s Ten Commandments provide a moral compass — an ethical standard to live by.
The existence of the Holy Trinity — one God in three persons. Catholics embrace the belief that God, the one Supreme Being, is made up of three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Catholics also believe that since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, all humans are born with original sin, which only Baptism removes. A happier belief is in grace, a totally free, unmerited gift from God. Grace is a sharing in the divine; the inspiration to do God’s will.
Catholics recognize the unity of body and soul for each human being. So the whole religion centers on the truth that humankind stands between the two worlds of matter and spirit. The physical world is considered part of God’s creation and is, therefore, inherently good until an individual misuses it.
For anyone calling on a Protestant to come home to Rome, that is, a Protestant with a sensibility similar to Kreeft’s about the significance of Christ, the supernatural, the word of God, and the need for salvation from sinfulness and its penalty, Christianity as a set of practices that allow you to function as a member of select group — think Mormons — isn’t going to have appeal. What is more, the Roman Catholic church doesn’t appear to be all that exclusive (and invites the old Groucho Marx joke, “would I want to belong to a club that would have me for a member?”).
The point is that a sufficient basis for unity might be a common concern for personal salvation, followed by some agreement on the accomplishment of that salvation. Without that, the appeal of the true, good, and beautiful, the persuasiveness of logic, or the reputation of novelists don’t go very far.