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White Horse Inn: Conversational Theology

Understanding the Protestant / Catholic Divide

At the heart of the division between Protestants and Catholics is the disagreement over the doctrine of justification. According to Catholic theology, justification is believed to be a lifelong process in which the sinner becomes intrinsically righteous, to the extent that he or she cooperates with grace. On the other side, Protestants assert that this ends up confusing justification with sanctification. Whereas sanctification is a process, justification is a once-for-all declaration of right standing with God that is ultimately rooted in Christ’s perfect righteousness. On this program the hosts walk through all the issues involved in this historic debate (originally aired 08-21-16).

Show Quote:

The Church no longer offered certainty of salvation;  she had become questionable in her whole objective form—the true Church [therefore] had to be sought outside the institution. It is against this background…that we are to understand that Luther, in the conflict between his search for salvation and the tradition of the Church, ultimately came to experience the Church, not as the guarantor, but as the adversary of salvation.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict, XVI), Principles of Catholic Theology, p. 196.


Are We Together?

Author: R.C. Sproul

In Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism, R.C. Sproul takes his stand for the cardinal doctrines of Protestantism in opposition to the errors of the Roman Catholic Church. Sproul, a passionate defender of the gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, cites the historic statements of the Protestant Reformers and the Roman Catholic authorities, then references modern doctrinal statements to show that the Roman Catholic Church has not altered its official positions. In light of this continuing gap, he writes, efforts by some in the evangelical camp to find common ground with Rome on matters at the heart of the gospel are nothing short of untrue to biblical teaching. In Sproul’s estimation, the Reformation remains relevant.

Justification Vol. 1 & 2

Author: Michael Horton

The doctrine of justification stands at the center of our systematic reflection on the meaning of salvation as well as our piety, mission, and life together. In his two-volume work on the doctrine of justification, Michael Horton seeks not simply to repeat noble doctrinal formulas and traditional proof texts, but to encounter the remarkable biblical justification texts in conversation with the provocative proposals that, despite a wide range of differences, have reignited the contemporary debates around justification.