More than 250 Protestant leaders all over the world signed and released the Reforming Catholic Confession on Sept. 12 to affirm the essentials of the Christian faith ahead of the 500th anniversary year of the Reformation.
Speaking to The Christian Post in an interview, Houston Baptist University professor Jerry Walls said the Reforming Catholic Confession aimed to demonstrate the unity of Protestants worldwide on the essential elements of the Christian faith despite their numerous denominations. More than 110 Christian institutions were represented in the said document, which contained 12 articles detailing their beliefs on the Trinity, the Gospel, the Church, and other basic Christian tenets.
Wall reportedly opened the idea of the Reforming Catholic Confession to biblical scholars and theologians and got positive responses from all of them. He started working with Trinity Evangelical Divinity School professor of systematic theology Kevin Vanhoozer and invited more Protestant denominations to join the project.
"The Church of Rome simply calls itself, 'The Catholic Church.' It is not the catholic church.' It is one part of the holy catholic church," Walls explained to the Post, when asked about the name of the document. "We want to make clear that 'catholic' is a much more expansive reality than the church of Rome. And we want Protestants to understand that when they are true to their own heritage, and their own roots, they are 'catholic' also."
Despite the common beliefs that Protestantism and Catholicism share, there are still a lot of differences between the two faiths, as outlined by American Reformed Evangelical theologian and author Kevin DeYoung in a blog entry on The Gospel Coalition. One of these differences is the number of books in their Bibles, since Protestants only have 66 books but the Scripture that Catholics are using also has the Apocrypha, including Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccebees, Sirach, and Baruch.
The other differences that DeYoung discussed include the Church, baptism, Mary, purgatory, salvation, and justification. Despite these several differences, the author reminded both the Catholics and Protestants to continue treating each other with respect and to work together on important moral and social issues.