Should Catholics and Protestants Unite?

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October 4, 2016

October 31, 2017 isn’t just about Halloween. Ghosts, Dracula, and witches aside, this special date marks the 500-year anniversary of an event that altered the course of history. “Bang, bang, bang,” pounded the hammer of Augustinian monk Martin Luther as he nailed his famous “95 Theses on the Power of Indulgences” on the door of the Castle church in Wittenberg, Germany. In a nutshell, Luther’s document condemned the widespread practice of paying money to the Roman Catholic Church in exchange for certificates, called “Indulgences,” granting pardon for sins committed by payees.

Indulgences are lies, thundered the German monk. God’s forgiveness is a gift. It’s not for sale!

In 1517 A.D., Luther’s bold “bang!” shook Europe. As his revolutionary message spread far and wide, it became God’s tool to ignite the Protestant Reformation. FYI, the word “Protestant” means “protester.” As a result of Luther’s protesting movement, millions lost confidence in popes and priests, and abandoned the Roman Church. “Protestant” churches—such as Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, Mennonite and Methodist—rose unstoppably in its wake.

should-protestants-and-catholics-unite-copyThe Reformation Gradually Dies

Fast-forward 500 years to October 31, 2017. Is the reformation over? Is the protest dead? Millions think so. Look around. Watch the news. Today, countless so-called “Protestants” are re-uniting with the Roman Church in a large-scale ecumenical movement. “Let’s lay our differences aside,” leaders on both sides of the divide now suggest, “and unite to bless the world.” But should Catholics and Protestants unite? Aren’t there some differences that shouldn’t be compromised—differences that Christians should even be willing to die for? Let’s find out.

The heart of the Protestant vs. Catholic controversy centers on how sinners like us can be eternally “saved” and go to heaven. Not a minor matter, wouldn’t you agree? In 1450 A.D., the printing press was invented, and the first book ever printed was the Bible. Previously unread, Christians throughout Europe gazed upon—for the first time ever—the sacred pages of God’s Book. In 1501, Martin Luther discovered a Latin Bible in a library in Germany. Unbelievable, Luther pondered while reading it, this is different from what my church teaches.

At first, Luther tried to reform Catholicism, but his efforts were viciously resisted. “Recant, heretic!” papal leaders threatened stubbornly, “or be burned at the stake.” “No!” Luther countered, “Christians should place God’s Word first, even above the Pope.” The war was on. As the conflict heated up, Protestants eventually developed these fundamental principles. Their rallying cry was:

“Sola Scriptura,” by Scripture alone

“Sola Christo,” through Christ alone

“Sola Fide,” by faith alone

“Sola Gratia,” by grace alone

Big Differences in the Beliefs
Yes, the Roman Catholic Church also taught (as it does today) the importance of faith, the value of Bible reading, and salvation through Christ and His grace; yet that small 4-letter Latin word “sola” (meaning “alone”) became the dividing line between reforming protestants and Catholicism.

In the 1500s, Protestants taught that a person can reach heaven by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ’s perfect merits alone, based on what is written in the Bible alone; whereas Rome added to the requirements of salvation numerous traditions, such as praying to Mary and dead saints, repeating the rosary, confessing sins to priests, performing works of penance, paying money to release one’s dead relatives from the flames of purgatory, and above all, belief in the supreme authority of “the Pope” as the successor of St. Peter—the universal head of Christianity. Rome also added the notion that God’s forgiveness could be obtained by purchasing indulgences.

“Yes, these traditions aren’t mentioned in the Bible specifically,” popes and priests admitted, “but they come from the Holy Spirit working through God’s Church.” “Sorry,” countered Protestants, “we don’t buy it. We’ll stick with Scripture, not man-made myths.” In the 1500s, these issues divided Christendom.

Bible Prophecy Reveals
Significantly, as the struggle intensified, Luther turned to the prophecies. By candlelight he read Paul’s solemn prediction of a “falling away” (apostasy) in Christian history (2 Thessalonians 2:3); of a “man of sin” to arise in its wake (verse 4), of a “beast” waging fierce “war with the saints” (Revelation 13:1,7), and of a mysterious Babylonian harlot (a false church) having illicit geo-political relationships with “the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:1,5; 18:4). Little by little, the pieces fit together. Horrified, Luther finally realized that he had discovered both Christ and antichrist. Compelled by the Spirit of God, Luther finally cast political correctness aside, went public, and declared, “We here are of the conviction that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist” (August 18, 1520). [1]

Catholicism is a cleverly crafted counterfeit Christianity, Luther soberly realized. This teaching became standard Protestant doctrine, and was shared by John Calvin (Presbyterian), John Wesley (Methodist), Charles Spurgeon (Baptist), Matthew Henry (Bible commentator), and countless others. Google this. These are facts. Protestant historian John Foxe, author of the Christian classic, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, echoed the same conviction when he wrote:

Disregarding the maxims and the spirit of the gospel, the papal church, arming herself with the power of the sword, vexed the church of God and wasted it for several centuries, a period most appropriately termed in history, the “dark ages.” The kings of the earth, gave their power to the “beast.”[2]

Part of End Time Events

But haven’t times changed? you may be wondering. Indeed, they have. But essentially, it isn’t Rome that has changed, but Protestantism. Unwittingly, Protestants now seeking union with Rome are fulfilling an ancient apocalyptic prophecy which states that in the closing moments of time, “All the world marveled and followed the beast” (Revelation 13:3).

Dear reader, the Bible is still the Bible, the beast is still the beast, and eternal salvation from our sinful violations of God’s Ten Commandments comes only through simple faith in Jesus Christ alone (see 1 John 3:4; Acts 4:12). Prophecy also predicts that right before our Savior returns (Revelation 14:14-16), God Almighty will initiate His closing phase of the Protestant Reformation through the global proclamation of three angel’s messages recorded in Revelation 14:6-12.

God’s Holy Day Changed

Pick up a Bible. Read Revelation 14:6-12 for yourself. God’s three angels announce that the “hour of His judgment has come” (verse 7), urge true worship of the Creator (verse 7), and warn about “the beast” (the Roman Church) who we now realize has also changed God’s original “seventh-day” Sabbath (Saturday) into Sunday (see Genesis 2:1-3; Daniel 7:25; Revelation 14:7,12; Exodus 20:8-11; Matthew 12:8; 28:1,2; John 14:15). The Ten Commandments are as valid today as they have always been, and the fourth commandment is virtually about the Sabbath, from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. The Sabbath, the seventh day is a holy day and has been so from creation. It has not changed. It was the Catholic Church that changed it[3] when paganism mixed into Christianity and the solar day, Sunday, instead began to be held sacred, even though it has never been sanctioned in the Bible, neither by Jesus nor his apostles.

Above all, God’s end-time message urges us all to believe in “the everlasting gospel” (verse 6) of Jesus Christ who loves everyone, and paid the full price for our sins (see John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

Make no mistake about it: God’s Reformation yet lives, and will exist to the close of time.

Let’s be part of it.

[1] LeRoy Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. II (Washington D.C.: Review and Herald, 1948), 121.

[2] John Foxe, Fox’s Book of Martyrs, edited by William Byron Forbush, D.D. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1926), Chapter IV, 43,, emphasis added.

[3] (Se reference number 24)

Published by GLOW, adapted by Empower Missions. Used with permission.

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