Is the Protestant Reformation Over?
In 1999, the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation, in an effort to resolve 500 years of conflict since the Protestant Reformation, signed a joint declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.
(I’m really not trying to spit rhymes here.)
The statement claimed that the two bodies are now able to articulate a common understanding of our justification, by God’s grace through faith in Christ.
“The present Joint Declaration has this intention: namely, to show that on the basis of their dialogue, the subscribing Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic Church are now able to articulate a common understanding of our justification by god’s grace through faith in Christ.” (Preamble, Paragraph 5)
A Methodist council later adopted the declaration in 2006; and a communion of Reformed churches adopted it in 2017.
Many have pointed to this and other ecumenical partnerships and said, “See… the Protestant Reformation is over!”
But is it, really?
Do those churches now submit to the primacy of the Pope?
No. We’re still supposed to be protesting.
The Catholic Church has not changed its position on justification, or “how a person is declared innocent or made guiltless before a holy and righteous God”. They’ve said that if a person believes in justification by faith alone, they are cursed to hell. If a person rejects the Pope’s teaching, they’re cursed. If they’ve not been baptized or attend a Catholic Church, they’re cursed.
“If any one shall say, that by faith alone the impious is justified… let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, Session 6, Chapter 16, Canon 9)
“Should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of [the Pope’s infallibility], let him be anathema.” (First Vatican Council, Session 4, Chapter 4)
“Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation.” (Catholic Catechism 846)
“Baptism is necessary for salvation.” (Catholic Catechism 1257)
The Catholic Church says a person is saved by a combination of faith and works. But, the Bible says that a person is saved by grace through faith, and not of works.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Roman Catholicism is a different gospel. The Bible says if anyone teaches a different gospel, they are cursed.
But, even if we, or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)
We are not fellow workers on the mission field. They are the mission field.
Now, being Protestant doesn’t just mean we protest the Pope. We protest any teaching contrary to the wisdom of God in the Bible.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 assures us:
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God…
…when we understand the text.