Assessing Catholic-Protestant Differences
BOOK PICK: A look at the latest from Peter Kreeft.
CATHOLICS AND PROTESTANTS
What Can We Learn From Each Other?
By Peter Kreeft
Ignatius Press, 2017
208 pages, $16.95
To order: ignatius.com or (800) 651-1531
The newest book to come from professor Peter Kreeft’s prolific pen is a must-read for all Catholics wanting to better understand Protestants — as well as for Protestants seeking to better understand Catholics.
It is also a useful resource for anyone beginning the process of conveying the truth of the Catholic Church to Protestant (or fallen-away Catholic) friends and colleagues.
Kreeft, a Catholic convert, explains his approach and purpose in these words:
“There are many issues that divide Protestants and Catholics. This book does not claim to resolve them. It is neither a complete book of apologetics (though it contains some key Catholic arguments) nor a complete manual for ecumenical reconciliation (though it contains some key arguments to the effect that the two sides are much more reconcilable than most people on both sides think). It is written from a point of view that is catholic (universal) as well as Catholic (Roman).”
All Christians reflecting on Christ’s plea for unity in the Gospel of John cannot help but see, 500 years after Luther precipitated the Protestant Reformation, how deeply dysfunctional the fragmentation of the “one, holy, catholic Church” is and how great a scandal it gives to those outside of Christianity.
Consider how much stronger Christianity would be as a united Church confronting Islam on the one hand and atheistic materialism on the other.
Although full reunion of Protestants and Catholics is not likely to happen tomorrow, Kreeft finds hopeful signs, as he relates, “Protestants and Catholics are sincerely loving and listening to each other.”
Kreeft never minimizes or explains away the differences separating Catholics and Protestants, and he states plainly that the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of the truth:
“Catholics believe everything in the Bible, including the ‘Protestant’ stuff. Lutherans may believe in Galatians versus James, faith versus works, but Catholics believe both. Calvinists may believe in predestination versus free will and Arminians in free will versus predestination, but Catholics, like Augustine and Aquinas, believe both. Whatever truths Protestantism teaches, Catholicism also teaches.”
Why then would Protestants consult this book? As Kreeft notes, “I’m not importing some Protestant points into Catholicism. I’m just reminding Catholics and Protestants alike that these points are already there.”
Kreeft treats all of the hard topics with clarity and charity. This is a book that will help Catholic and Protestant readers understand one another better, appreciate each other better, and encourage constructive conversation.
Opus Dei Father
is a Church historian.