FTA: Though our forefathers disagreed on many issues, they were in agreement on this one: the Catholic and Protestant doctrinal positions are so divergent that they are irreconcilable. If Catholics were right, the Protestants’ contrasting position must be wrong, and vice versa. If sola fide is the true Gospel, then Rome’s works-merit message is a false gospel!
Over the past fifty years or so, massive efforts were made to re-unite Catholics and Protestants. Sadly, the doctrinal differences remain exactly the same as they were in the sixteenth century. Rome’s teaching on justification has not changed. Should Protestants return to Rome for the sake of ecumenical unity, they would have to discard “Justification by Faith Alone” – the very same Gospel that gives them life and liberty.
The Second Vatican Council changed nothing except for the packaging. In the opening speech of the council, Pope John XXIII reaffirmed their “adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the Acts of the Council of Trent and First Vatican Council.” Their purpose was a new presentation of the same teaching. “The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another,” he said.
Furthermore, the Pope admitted that “The Church has always opposed these errors. Frequently she has condemned them with the greatest severity. Nowadays however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity.” In other words, the tactics are changed to reach the same goal. Forget the anathemas; call the schismatics and heretics “separated brethren”; hide away the instruments of torture and let Rome present herself as “loving mother of all, benign, patient, full of mercy and goodness.”
Evangelical Christians should realize that the purpose of the modern ecumenical movement is not the unity of Christians based on a shared faith in the Gospel of Christ. Ecumenism is Rome’s tool to absorb all Christian denominations under the papal domination.
[Ecumenical dialogue] serves to transform modes of thought and behaviour and the daily lives of those [non-Catholic] communities. In this way, it aims at preparing the way for their unity of faith in the bosom of a Church one and visible: thus little by little, as the obstacles to perfect ecclesial communion are overcome, all Christians will be gathered, in a common celebration of the Eucharist, into that unity of the one and only Church which Christ bestowed on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, dwells in the Catholic Church as something she can never loose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time. (Secretariat for the Promotion of the Unity of Christians, “Reflections and Suggestions Concerning Ecumenical Dialogue,” in Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery, O.P.)
Rome’s stated purpose for ecumenism is to conform non-Catholic Christians to “the faith” — evidently the Vatican’s teaching — so that non-Catholics would be absorbed into the Roman Church, “the one and only Church.”
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