The Gospel for Roman Catholics
Recently there has been a surge in prominent Evangelicals calling for unity with Roman Catholicism. In one sense there seems to be strong foundational similarities that would justify these calls to unity. Catholics are baptized in the name of the Trinity. God’s revealed word in the Bible -- setting aside their addition of the Apocryphal books, for argument’s sake -- is foundational to their worldview. Catholics love Christ and believe that he died on the cross and rose again to provide grace for sinners.
Obviously there are theological differences associated with the specific teachings of each one of these perceived similarities, and I do not want to minimize the importance of these differences. But for argument‘s sake, at least on the surface, there is some common ground.
There is also a strong agreement in ethical standards. Both Roman Catholics and Evangelicals ground morality on God’s holy nature as revealed in the law of God. This means that on the hot button moral issues of the day; the murder of the unborn, human sexuality, the sanctity of marriage there is solidarity between Roman Catholic and Evangelical ethics because they are coming from the same source. Again, this seems to justify a call to some sense of unity.
Are these good enough reasons to publically stump for visible unity with Roman Catholics? That question is beyond the scope of this post. But there is a more fundamental question that must be answered first. That question serves as the dividing line between followers of Christ and the world, which separates biblical Christianity from every other worldview; does Rome possess and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
The author of the book of Hebrews in chapter 10 contrasts the gospel with that which is but a shadow of the gospel. He argues:
"And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified." -- Heb 10:11–14