Same Words, Different Worlds: Do Roman Catholics and Evangelicals Believe the Same Gospel?, a book by Leonardo De Chirico is an excellent read for those who would like to understand what Roman Catholicism really teaches. The Amazon offering ( I bought the Kindle version) has this to say about the book:
Same Words, Different Worlds explores whether Evangelicals and Catholics have the same gospel if they have core commitments that contradict. It lays out how the words used to understand the gospel are the same but differ drastically in their underlying theology.
With keen insight, Leonardo de Chirico looks at various aspects of Roman Catholic theology – including Mary, the intercession of the saints, purgatory and papal infallibility – from an Evangelical perspective to argue that theological framework of Roman Catholicism is not faithful to the biblical gospel. Only by understanding the real differences can genuine dialogue flourish.
Same Words, Different Worlds will deepen your understanding of the differences between Evangelical and Catholic theology, and how the Reformation is not over in the church today.
In his forward, Dr.Michael Reeves, president and professor of theology at Union School of Theology in the United Kingdom has this to say:
With the courteous graciousness and keen insight he is known for, Leonardo De Chirico shows us here just how much we are missing. Laying out the underlying theological framework of Roman Catholicism, he shows how Rome can use words familiar to evangelicals (‘grace’, ‘faith’, ‘justification’ etc.), but intend quite different things by them. What becomes very clear is that Rome does not just add a few of its own sprinkles (Mary, purgatory and the pope) to an otherwise broadly agreed gospel. From bottom to top, it is a cake with a different (if similar-sounding) recipe and different (if similar-sounding) ingredients. With this book, then, Dr. De Chirico switches on the lights to help us think rightly about Roman Catholicism and engage Roman Catholic friends with biblical grace and biblical clarity.
This book not only confirmed my own research concerning what Roman Catholicism teaches, it also intelligently and graciously clarified certain areas needing clarification in my old soldiers ‘brain housing group’. one such area was some of the Vatican’s current teaching concerning the current universalism of the Roman Catholic church. To quote from the book:
According to the book, one Catholic author (Jack Mulder) summarizes the universalism of the Roman Catholic church, quoting Paul VI and John Paul II and evoking standard Vatican II teaching:
‘There are four concentric circles of people: first, all humanity; second, the worshipers of the one God; third, all Christians; and fourth, Catholics themselves. Salvation is seen as a gift that people receive in different degrees depending on the circle they choose to identify with or find themselves in.
- Roman Catholics receive God’s grace in the fullest measure through the sacraments administered by the (Roman) church under the pope and the bishops who are the successors of the apostles.
- Other Christians receive God’s grace to a lesser extent because they retain true elements of the faith but lack the fullness of it in not being in full fellowship with the Church of Rome.
- Religious people receive it because they have a sense of the divine, although they miss important aspects of the faith.
- Finally, the whole of humanity receives it because everyone is human and therefore existentially open to God’s grace which works in mysterious ways.
- Ultimately, ‘the only real way to get outside of God’s grace is to expel oneself from it’. The conditions for such self-expulsion are so remote and limited that practically there is hope that all will be saved.
This is quite different from clear biblical teaching, which turns the picture upside down. According to Scripture we are all by nature ‘children of wrath’ (Eph. 2:3), all sinners (Rom. 3:23), all under God’s judgment (John 3:18). It is not we who exclude ourselves from God’s grace. Because of sin we are all born into this condition. Roman Catholicism turns the argument around and believes the contrary, namely that we are all born into God’s grace, albeit at various levels of depth and at different degrees
Such an attitude of universalism seems to soften considerably many of the pronouncements of the 1563 Council of Trent. that pronounced “anathemas” (curses) against all non-Catholics.
Having said all of that, I highly recommend adding Roman Catholicism – Same Words, Different Worlds to your reading list. The in-depth understanding of Roman Catholic theology the book provides can assist us greatly as we engage our Roman friends and acquaintances and present to them the Five Solas of the Reformation.
- Sola Fide (“faith alone”): We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
- Sola Gratia (“grace alone”): We are saved by the grace of God alone.
- Solus Christus (“Christ alone”): Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.
- Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”): We live for the glory of God alone.