Catholics and Protestants (1 of 2)

5 solas 5

Q. My brother improved a lot ever since he started attending a Catholic church. I’m concerned that he does not know the difference between what Catholics and Protestants believe. Can you tell him?

A. It’s good that your brother started paying attention to spiritual things. Many people are content with enjoying life and ignore the eternal issues. However, it’s more important that he has a proper relationship with God through Jesus Christ than knowing the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism, which can come later. I would share the gospel with him first, then explain the difference.

Having said that, the simplest way to explain the difference is to tell him the five pillars of the Reformation, the five “solas”. The five solas are five Latin phrases that summarize the Reformers’ conviction in contrast to that of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). Sola (from which we get “sole”) is Latin for “only” or “alone”. They are:

1) Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone. The Bible is the only infallible authority sufficient for all matters pertaining to doctrine and conduct. The RCC believes also in the authority of tradition, and accepts the ex cathedra pronouncements of the pope to be infallible and authoritative. This is a foundational difference as from it arose many divergent doctrines not found in the Bible.
a Mt 15:3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?
b Mt 15:6b … Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.
c Mk 7:8-9 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!
d Mk 7:13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

2) Sola Fide – Faith Alone. Our justification before God is by faith in Christ alone, not by works. The RCC believes in faith plus good works.
a Rom 3:28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.
b Ga 2:16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

(To be continued)

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