CATHOLIC, LUTHERAN, PROTESTANT:
A Doctrinal Comparison of Three Christian Confessions
Gregory L. Jackson, STM (Yale), PhD (Notre Dame)
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Pastor Gregory L. Jackson is in a unique position to write this book, a revision of the work printed first in 1993 through Christian News with the help of Timothy Otten. The original files were lost, so the book was re-written.
Pastor Jackson has studied under many Lutheran professors (Robert Preus, Kurt Marquart, Paul Holmer, Nils Dahl, Otto Heick, and Edward Fredrich. Roman Catholic professors and lecturers include Elisabeth and Frank Fiorenza (both at Harvard now), Henri Nouwen, and others not known to most CN readers. Some of the Lutherans (Richard Neuhaus, Robert Wilken, Leonard Klein) subsequently became Roman Catholic, or in the case of Jaroslav Pelikan, died Eastern Orthodox. Some Protestants heard include Billy Graham, D. James Kenneday, Paul Y. Cho, Howard Yoder, and Bill Hybels (Willow Creek).
Jackson earned an MA and PhD in theology at the University of Notre Dame, where national conferences brought many interesting speakers. Previously he earned an STM degree in Biblical studies from Yale University. After experiencing the apostasy of the Lutherans synods, he became independent and still serves people through the Word and Sacraments. He teaches at several universities and does financial planning.
First Section - Agreement
· The Scriptures and Natural Law
Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant is organized into three main sections. The first section, on agreement, lays the groundwork for showing that orthodox Lutheran doctrine is the Christian faith. The first chapter shows the overall agreement among the Catholics, Lutherans, and Protestants about the authority and inerrancy of the Scriptures. Natural law is also common ground for all Christians. Although there are obvious differences in how the Bible is treated, as various reviewers were quick to notice, there is really no chance for harmony without a foundation in the Word of God.
Section Section - Partial Agreement
· The Sacraments
The second section of the book deals with partial agreement – the Sacraments. Because all three groups name the Sacraments, the first differences become apparent when they are compared. The concept of the book was to present the material as fairly as possible, to allow Catholic/Lutheran couples to study their teachings from their own sources. As a result, many new Lutherans appreciate the book, especially when they have changed from Roman Catholicism.
Quite a few libraries were turned over to provide the information in Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant. The author collected a total of 3,000 verbatim quotations to use for this book and others.
Third Section – Complete Disagreement
· Justification, Chapter Three
· Purgatory, Chapter Four
· Papacy, Chapter Five
· Mary, Chapter Six
· Luther versus the Papacy, Chapter Seven
The third section generates the most interest in classes. The differences between Roman Catholic justification (faith plus works) is compared to Biblical teaching (justification by faith alone). Also, the similarities between Protestants and Catholics are explored. The requirement of tongues for Pentecostals is no different than the requirement of good works for Catholics.
Few people know exactly how Purgatory developed in the Christian Church. Jackson had access to a papal owned seminary in Columbus, Ohio, and obtained access to its excellent library. One of the most famous Roman Catholic scholars, Father Jugie, wrote Purgatory and the Means To Avoid It, considered a good apologetic for that hideous doctrine. The Vatican seminary had a remarkable collection of books on Purgatory and Mary. There was only one name on many of them! Roman Catholic priests are more likely to be liberal Protestants. All the critiques of Roman doctrine were in that library, from Chemnitz’ Examination of the Council of Trent, to Kueng and Hasler.
The development of doctrine about Purgatory, the papal infallibility, and Mary are all enmeshed with fides formata (faith formed by works). Mary and Purgatory cannot be separated in Roman Catholic piety, which makes one wonder why some Lutheran pastors are so keen to promote Marian devotion.
The Church of Rome knows that many of its leaders have lied about Luther. The oldest work of slander (The Seven-Headed Luther) is still used as if it is factual. These deceptions are analyzed in the last chapter, where the papacy as the Antichrist is discussed.
Almost 9 pages of bibliography and 450 footnotes provide sources for the chapters and a guide for additional study.
The book began as an adult study class for couples where one person was Lutheran and the other a Roman Catholic. A brief outline of the class in Christian News led to phone calls, saying, “You must write a book on this!” Once the book was in print, pastors found it was useful for adult doctrinal classes and confirmation classes as well.
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