How Should Protestants Relate to Roman Catholics?

from Aug 27, 2012 Category: Articles

I have written in strong terms in Are We Together? because I believe the errors of the Roman Catholic Church are deep and significant. I am happy to make common cause with Roman Catholics on social issues, but we have no common cause in the gospel. Rome has compromised the gospel with her unbiblical doctrines. I firmly believe that she is “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9).

How then should we proceed? How should we relate to Roman Catholics?

I believe that as individuals, we should reach out to Roman Catholics. We should love our neighbors who are in the Church of Rome. We should befriend them and spend time with them. By doing so, we earn the right to lovingly critique their views.

As churches, we must stand for the biblical gospel—and nothing more. It is our calling to hold high the truth and expose falsehood. To this end, it is essential that we know and understand what Rome is teaching, so distinctions can be made. It is important that the people in the pews be educated about what Protestants believe over against what Roman Catholics teach.

Pastors should preach the gospel and point out ways in which it is twisted by men, including the Roman Catholic Church. I am not saying that every sermon must attack Rome, but given the attraction that Roman Catholicism is exerting on some Protestants, it is essential that its errors be exposed. By faithfully preaching the gospel, pastors will defend the Reformation.

When our involvement in social issues brings us into contact and camaraderie with Roman Catholics, we need not draw back. But we must not assume that we are brothers and sisters with them in the gospel. They are members of a church that has anathematized the gospel, so we ought to pray for them and seek to reach them for Christ.

There is much more I could have said in Are We Together? However, I hope this small book introduces you to some of the issues that have been—and remain—in dispute between Protestants and Roman Catholics. I encourage you to dig deeper on your own so that you will become more knowledgeable and articulate in dealing with these issues. Much is at stake, and there is a desperate need for an educated laity.

The Reformation is not over. It cannot be over and must not be over until all who call themselves Christians have one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. The cause of sola Scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus, and soli Deo Gloria remains the cause of and for biblical truth.


Excerpt adapted from R.C. Sproul’s latest book, Are We Together? Available now from ReformationTrust.com

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