A Different Gospel?
One of the questions we get a lot is about how I as a Protestant in general and a Calvinist in particular can share space amicably with those in traditions that don’t believe in justification by grace through faith alone.
Don’t Catholics and the Orthodox deny this doctrine and thus place themselves outside the true church?
Can they be saved believing in a “different gospel” ?
The ages have clouded the importance of this doctrine to the church…the material principle of the Reformation was justification, the formal principle was biblical authority and the two were linked together in the minds of the Reformers.
Luther called it the doctrine by which the church stands or falls and the rest of the Reformers said amen.
I affirm the the doctrine with the same zeal as my forefathers and teach it and believe it with all the faith I have.
I believe those who do not teach and believe it are in gross error.
Justification by grace through faith is a hill I would die on.
The question then becomes why do you call Catholics and the Orthodox brothers and sisters in the faith?
I do so because I believe the Gospel that saves is about the person and work of Christ, not about the mechanics of salvation.
Saving faith is about placing your trust in Jesus…believing in His incarnation, sinless life, death for your sins, resurrection, ascent, and return to judge the quick and the dead.
When the Ethiopian eunuch asked “what must I do to be saved?” the answer was simple…believe on the One you’ve been reading about.
“But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
(Romans 10:8–9 ESV)
I believe that there are those in all the Christian traditions that have made that confession with their mouths that reflected the faith in their hearts that Jesus is Lord and they will indeed share in His resurrection.
Justification by grace through faith is a hill I would die on…but not one that I will slay others on.
If we are saved by grace through faith that covers their gross doctrinal errors…and mine as well.
We’ll be talking about this on the next episode of Calvin’s Corner as well.