The 498th anniversary of Martin Luther’s launch of the Protestant Reformation is 36 days from now, and I plan to blog more extensively about it at that time. The excitement over Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, however, causes me to wonder if 21 Century American Protestants remember why we left Roman Catholicism in the first place. I anticipate sharing more detailed posts about the Reformation and its doctrinal foundations later next month, but today I simply want to voice my frustration over the adoration that overflows for this man…especially from those who represent evangelical teaching.
For example, I found this little gem on my Twitter feed this morning:
To be fair, I have no way to verify the authenticity of this Tweet, but I do know that Warren minimizes the differences between Roman Catholic and Protestant theologies. The following video shows his attempts to blur doctrinal lines:
Of course, Warren completely ignores that the Council of Trent, which convened between the years 1545 and 1563 in reaction to the Reformation, specifically repudiates the foundational teaching that salvation comes solely by faith in Christ’s work on the cross. Consider Session VI, Canon IX of that Council.
CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema. (Source)
The Council of Trent still stands, even after Vatican II. Therefore, official Catholic teaching directly contradicts Galatians 2:16. In its dogma that salvation requires human cooperation in addition to Christ’s work on the cross, they preach a very different gospel than the Gospel that the great Reformers saw in Scripture. God’s Word condemns those who preach false gospels.
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. ~~Galatians 1:6-9 (ESV)
I have no quarrel with Roman Catholics and those who don’t claim to be Protestants swooning over Pope Francis. But Protestants (and especially evangelicals) need to remember the Biblical doctrine for which men and women of the Reformation suffered and died. Doctrinal purity mattered a great deal to them at that time. Shouldn’t it matter just as much to us?