Book review: Catholics and Protestants–What Can We Learn from Each Other?

I’m reading Peter Kreeft’s book, “Catholics and Protestants: What Can We Learn from Each Other?” So many gems and great discussion starters here. I think it will be a great help to both sides. Kreeft is a convert to the Catholic Church, from Presbyterianism. It might be tempting for Protestants to think he is going to be very partisan, and to make a case against Protestantism, but he doesn’t do that. Among other things, he describes what is excellent in Protestantism, and how (some, perhaps many) Catholics need it. He is rather critical of the Catholic Church for not doing a good enough job emphasizing the need for a personal relationship with Christ, but he does not downplay what the Catholic Church brings to the table.

Probably the most important point he makes is to say that the issue of justification has been solved. In other words, Catholics and Protestants don’t believe differently about justification, even though we thought we did going all the way back to beginning of the Reformation. It was, in fact, the impetus for the Reformation. So the central issue that sparked the Reformation has been solved.

People of good will on both sides of the Catholic/Protestant divide will benefit from this book. At the very least, it can provide many talking points for people to use as spring boards for open and honest discussion.



Author: everybodysdaughter

I'm an adult child of divorce, having been raised in multiple divorce/remarriage situations. I originally started writing here to shed light on the problems of divorce from the perspective of the child. I gradually started writing about the Catholic faith, and the blog probably is more of that at this point. However, there is overlap between the two, since the "shape" of the family is a triangle, which is a reflection of the Holy Family and the Holy Trinity.

4 thoughts on “Book review: Catholics and Protestants–What Can We Learn from Each Other?”

  1. Just want to note that Protestants and Catholics generally still disagree about Justification, despite the joint agreement. Also unfortunately, the joint agreement did not get the Lutherans to straight up agree to James 2:24 “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone”. In scriptural terms, this is the main point of contention. Catholics read James 2:24 literally: Works contribute to Justification “in some sense”. Whereas protestants staunchly deny that works have anything to do with Justification and then are forced to interpret James 2:24 in some other way. Unfortunately for these protestants pretty much every alternative interpretation they propose comes across as a grasping at straws and a total “twisting of scripture to their own destruction”. The most popular one they propose is that the word “diakonous” in this context means “vindicated”, rather than “made/declared righteous”. After listening to the arguments they put forward in favour of this theory I can only conclude that it is a completely baseless and vacuous idea. The Catholic case is far stronger.

    Justification needs to be understood in a Catholic sense here of course: Catholics draw a distinction between “Initial Justification” and “Justification”. Initial Justification is basically the brute fact of whether or not you are justified; This occured at either the cross or our individual baptism depending on which theologian you are talking to.
    On the other hand, “Justification” is a quantifiable thing. It is something which can grow. It is something which you can have more or less of. The council of Trent elaborated on James 2:24 and understood it to mean that doing works of charity is how we GROW in justification. So the “some sense” in which works justify us, is not to actually bring us to justification (Christ did that at the cross and/or our baptism), instead it is referring to how we GROW in justification.

    The more justification you have, the greater your experience of the beatific vision, the greater your christlikeness, the greater your reward in heaven etc

    Anyway protestants actually do agree with a lot of this stuff if you push them on it, it’s just that they contradict scripture by insisting on denying that works have the power to justify “in some sense”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ebd–

    Both my wife and I adore Peter Kreeft and have had the good fortune to meet him a couple of times.

    It is true that, theoretically, the differences between Thomistic, semi-Augustinian, Lutheran, and infralapsarian Calvinist soteriologies are quite minimal. In point of fact, the differences between Dominicans and Jesuits are far, far greater. Had Rome exercised a bit of humility and flexibility, the Reformation might have been avoided.

    All that said, an overwhelming number of Catholics do not believe and could not articulate the Thomist understanding of salvation. Kreeft, along with other prominent Catholics participating in the project called Evangelicals and Catholics Together, is in the extreme minority when it comes to Catholic views on Justification by Faith Alone.


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