The Protestant and Roman Catholic View of Justification

Many members of the Protestant church today do not understand properly their origins and the nature of their predecessors “protest” against the Roman Catholic Church. When asked about the respective differences, they may respond with some stereotypical answers such as, “I don’t worship Mary,” “I believe in justification by faith, not works,” or “The bread and wine of the Lord’s supper don’t really turn into the body of Jesus.” In this lesson, Dr. Sproul explains the real, serious points of doctrine at stake during Martin Luther’s timeframe and the Reformation, paying careful attention to the doctrine of justification and its place in Roman Catholic thought.

Would it surprise you to learn that current Roman Catholic doctrine declares all Protestants accursed? Remarkably, if probed, most Protestants would respond in disbelief to this proposition. Yet, it holds true, and the Roman church maintains the same stance today as it took in the sixteenth century at the Council of Trent. The major area of dispute at the council regarded the doctrine of justification, notably the role of faith in it. A thorough, clear understanding of justification remains imperative for a proper understanding of the differences between historic Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, and Dr. Sproul provides this clarification in today’s lesson.

Many people in contemporary culture shrink at the idea of double imputation inherent in the Protestant understanding of justification. That God would place others’ sins on His own Son while simultaneously declaring the guilty righteous on account of the merit of Christ defies reason and creates a form of “cosmic child abuse,” they say. Yet, this position demonstrates a serious flaw in reasoning, for the Father does not abuse His Son. On the contrary, our own wrongdoing rests upon Christ’s shoulders at the cross, and He bears this burden willingly for the sake of His flock. Furthermore, a position against double imputation seriously underestimates the love of God for His children. As Dr. Sproul will show in this lesson, it is a love that delivers sinners from the place of despair, and brings them into salvation.

Secular culture and even some professing evangelicals often describe God as an all-forgiving, cuddly being intent on accepting all people from all walks of life into his ever-accepting arms. As such, it advocates freedom to act in whatever way feels right, for if God is a god of love, surely He will never discriminate. This picture misses the mark absolutely. On the contrary, the heavenly Lord of Hosts demands rigid moral discipline from His creation. Although God alone acts in the justification of His children, after they enter into a state of grace He requires that they cooperate and fulfill his mandates and laws. Dr. Sproul explores the consequences of entering into a state of grace by the process of justification in this final lesson on Luther and the Reformation.

This is part of the “LUTHER AND THE REFORMATION” playlist.

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