This 1995 Baker book is a Reformed or Protestant answer to the Evangelicals and Catholics Together accord. It is forwarded by Michael Horton and recommended by John MacArthur, R. Albert Mohler, Jr., James M. Boice and Jerry Bridges. Sproul has done a great service to those of us who cannot agree with the accord in delineating and detailing the history of sola fide in Catholic and Reformation thought. He leaves no doubt that the two views cannot be reconciled. To have an accord, one or both must change this most fundamental belief which, in turn, would change the entire tradition.
Sproul reminds us that the central issue over the accord is not whether faith is necessary for salvation but whether faith alone (sola fide) can bring justification from God. The Reformers definitely said ‘‘yes,’’ the Catholic Church definitely said ‘‘no.’’ The author’s explanation of the place faith must take in salvation is more detailed than most popular theologies and is crucial for our generation to understand, both regarding Catholic and non-Catholic views.
The reader may tire somewhat of the Reformation/Catholic history rather than a total chapter and verse procedure but that is Sproul’s purpose in light of the accord. A non-predestinarian will also find himself conversing with the author over the finer points of the non-Catholic position. Sproul addresses the Lordship question briefly and, I feel, doesn’t commit himself either way (see conclusion to chapter 8 on p. 171). He does claim that it ‘‘erupted within the household of dispensationalism’’ (p. 168).
The final chapter is a timely warning concerning the relativism and pluralism of our day that brought about the ECT accord (that agreement over the importance of doctrine is more important than agreement over doctrine). Also, lamentably, Sproul quotes J.I. Packer’s own defense of and reasons for signing the accord. This is a sad note, for those who have read and loved Packer’s writings, to see him acquiesce to unity over truth at this point in his life.
This is a fine defense of faith apart from works that a Baptist can appreciate. After all, we had this settled long before the Reformers started a fight over it!