Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism by R.C. Sproul
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book is written to those who are Protestant, in an effort to help them sense the theological chasm between Protestantism and Rome. As such, it is not written as much with an eye towards Catholics, to help them understand Protestant convictions or arguments.
Almost all attention is given to unpacking Catholic thought. Protestant views are only mentioned occasionally in so much as to provide a contrast. But they are not expanded upon.
The above is not a critique of the book, just a clarification that if you are looking for a book that contrasts Protestant and Catholic belief, simultaneously making a case for Protestantism, for example, this is not your book. Sproul, rather, is detailing Catholic thought with an aim of depressing inappropriate ecumenical tendencies (i.e., blowing off differences with Rome) among protestants.
As he proceeds towards this aim, Sproul does a fair job presenting Catholic views. He is charitable, and avoids caricatures, which are all too common among protestants. He gives the needed nuance to Catholic views. He wants to help protestants genuinely understand Catholic theology, and to see it’s rationale.
This book is to be recommended for those looking to understand Catholicism better, specifically on those key subjects where it differs most significantly from Protestant thought.
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The following are reflections are specifically in response to the recent “Unite the Right” rally in Charleston, SC, as well as potential nuclear threat between President Trump and North Korea.
This morning, as South City Church, gathers to worship God, we do so as people embedded in our society, a society torn and plagued by social sins of racism and threats of mass nuclear slaughter. Our worship cannot be removed or detached from our social context. Rather the God we worship and the faith we confess has bearing on our situations.
We grieve the effects of sin on ourselves and on our fellow-image bears. We grieve with a profound sense humility, knowing that we are equally culpable in evil. And we grieve knowing that sin is ultimately an affront to the glory of our God, a God of infinite worth and beauty; the God who created us for so much more — Himself.
We, as Christians, are a part of a much larger community — the Church composed of members from across time and space; a community who heritage and who make up consists of white people alongside people of color.
Today, as much as every other day, we have solidarity with each other. We are members of one body. To inflict one of us is to inflict one of our brothers and sisters. We cannot be apathetic.
Karl Marx said that religion is the opiate of the masses.
To the contrary, our opiate is ignoring questions of ultimate meaning. We pursue our careers, work our jobs, give ourselves to our relationships and families, dedicate ourselves to hobbies, pacify ourselves with substance and entertainment, while seemingly ever-avoiding the question, “What does it matter? What’s the point?” We are all going to die someday. So, what of all this will possibly escape death’s menacing judgment of “pointless!” “meaningless!” “trivial!”?
This is the elephant that looms large in the room. And we are content (dare I say, determined) to ignore and avoid it at all costs.
So great is our determination here that we have an unwritten (verbalized) rule for it. We want to privatize religion and its disruptive sort questions along these lines. They’re uncomfortable. “Don’t talk religion and politics,” we say, “(but especially religion)” we mean — that is, if you take religion as something more than sentimental tradition; that is, if you actually believe it to be making exclusive sort of truth-claims.
Some of us are dead set to avoid conflict. “Niceness” (at seemingly all costs) is our culture’s highest virtue. Others of us are far too uncontemplative, or maybe intoxicated with the triviality — “This stuff is all too serious. Take it easy, man.”
So, we keep ignoring that foreboding elephant. We’re like a child who has been given a certain chore to do. We fool ourselves into thinking that by postponing or neglecting it long enough it will just go away or be forgotten.
These questions may be controversial, taxing, and disruptive — they certainly are. And I’m very much aware that it’s quite easier and more soothing to just ignore them. But they are far too important for that.
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“‘Vanity of vanities!’ says the Preacher. ‘All is vanity!'” – Ecclesiastes