Where do you find Roman Catholic theology? Now, before we go too far, let me make this point: Evangelicals tend to define themselves and therefore everyone else by their doctrinal statement. (This has given rise, in part, to the emerging church movement’s nervousness about doctrinal statements.) RCism is not defined by its theology, even if it has a theology. But, if you are looking for it, where do you find that theology?
In the Catholic Catechism. Have you ever read any of it? (It’s online if you want to check it out: right here.) It is not a systematic theology, and yet like one; it is not a devotional book, yet it is devotional; it is not an encyclopedia, yet it is like one. The indices will enable you to find just about anything you need to know about the official RC doctrinal views.
Noll and Nystrom’s Is the Reformation Over? suggests that evangelical Christians by and large can agree with 70% of the Catechism. The authors chart out with citations common orthodoxy, common devotion, and common understanding of holy living (sabbath and God’s name, human life, sexual ethics, family/marriage/divorce, social justice, sin and the supernatural).
Then they chart the differences: authority, Mary (mother of God), baptism, salvation by works or grace, celibacy and saints, sacraments and worship.
Then they address “Catholics and the Church” with the standard quip that the evangelical and Catholic difference on ecclesiology is that latter have one and the former don’t. (Standard humor; not altogether false for many; emerging folks, however, would say that the “no ecclesiology” just might be the real thing after all — that’s another conversation, not this one.) Well, the centrality of the Church is a huge difference. Insurmountable in my view. How about in yours?