Who's to say that Roman Catholics and Protestants don't have common ground as far as the Doctrine of Justification is concerned?
Benedict Groeschel's take on the age-old argument of whether salvation is by faith or by faith and works vice versa reminded me of how I used to think when it comes to my attitude towards Roman Catholics. Thankfully, I no longer think that way although most of my born again friends think I'm compromising my faith because I believe and would like to talk more about Christ (whom both Roman Catholics and Protestants worship), and His role in salvation which gives common ground for all expressions of Christianity to unite on as far as talk of salvation or better yet justification is concerned.
Here's where a long-standing debate flares up about justification. St. Paul says the just person shall live by faith (Rom. 1:17). Many Protestants believe in faith alone, while Catholics and Orthodox Christians believe in faith and works –or so the old argument goes. Maybe. I was speaking at an evangelical convention in Honolulu a couple of years ago. Eighteen hundred people were in attendance, seventeen hundred of them evangelical Protestants.__
I said to them, “I think the whole argument over faith an works was drummed up as an argument of words at the time of the Reformation, so that the Protestants and Catholics would have something to yell back and forth at each other.” Throughout the audience I saw nodding in agreement. An eminent evangelical theologian got up later and said the same thing.
Did you ever meet any Catholic who thought they could be saved by doing good works if they didn't have faith? No. Did you ever meet any Catholics who thought that by doing good works they would be saved, apart from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ? No. Did you ever meet a devout believing Protestant who didn't do good works? No. So there must be something wrong with the argument.
The entire human race was set right with God, or saved, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ who is our justification. It is untrue to say that we are saved either by faith or by works, or by faith and works together. We are saved by Jesus Christ. He alone is the cause of our salvation. We are saved by a person not by belief in any doctrine. Our lives are enlightened, touched and justified when we put our faith in him.1
1 Groeshel, Benedict. Healing the Original Wound: Reflections on the full meaning of salvation. (St. Paul's 1995) p.52