Protestant and Catholic: Is The Chasm Closing?

Protestant and Catholic: Is The Chasm Closing? October 2, 2017

Brandon Withrow:

Five-hundred years ago, a monk named Martin Luther wrote his 95 Theses and—while he likely didn’t nail it to the Wittenberg Castle Church door, as legend has it—his words launched the Protestant Reformation, setting Europe on fire—both figuratively and literally.

This October 31 is the anniversary of that decisive point in history. For many Christians, this commemoration marks a dramatic shift, as never in history have old wounds between traditions felt closer to healing.

“Majorities or pluralities of adults (including Catholics, Protestants and people with no religious affiliation) in all 15 countries surveyed across Western Europe say Catholics and Protestants today are ‘religiously more similar than they are different’,” says Pew’s study of Europe.

Likewise, in the U.S., approximately, 6-in-10 adults—57 percent of Protestants and 65 percent of Catholics—believe the two are “more similar than different, religiously.”

Why did the church originally divide?

Luther’s belief that Scripture alone is the sole authority for doctrine enabled him to question the church. Scripture, he argued, said that Christ’s death fully satisfied the penalty of sin. The Protestant mantra became: justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone. At the time, Luther had no intention of leaving the church he hoped to reform, but his theological fury led to his inevitable excommunication as a heretic and the splintering of Christendom.

But now that chasm between Protestants and Catholics appears to be closing.

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