Ethics and morality. A positive comment I often hear from evangelicals about Catholics—and an area where we share interest—is our commitment to morality. Catholics have what we call a "womb to tomb" outlook on life that fights abortion, supports families, cares for the sick and homeless, and challenges capital punishment. If you've ever seen an abortion clinic protest, for example, you probably witnessed passionate Catholics praying for the mothers and babies. Worldwide, Catholics are leaders in outreach and missions work. Our commitment to these matters springs from and is centered on our faith in Christ—just like the admirable work evangelicals do in these areas.
What divides us
Tradition. Now, let's look at a few areas of difference. I mentioned the Apocrypha already. Including that in the Catholic version of the Bible comes from the church's belief that both Scripture and tradition should be studied when deciding matters of faith. Protestants, however, maintain sola scriptura: the belief that the Bible (rather than tradition or human teachings) is the primary way of understanding God and his truth. Though evangelicals value church history, they do not regard the teachings of church leaders throughout the centuries ("tradition") in the same way Catholics do. Catholics clearly agree that the Bible is God's inspired word, but we also contend that God has given us church leaders and traditions to show us the Christian way. We can see this same value expressed in the New Testament, as the apostles frequently refer to tradition or example (see Acts 15:1-14; 17:28; 1 Corinthians 11:2; Philippians 4:9) when instructing new Christians. In 2 Thessalonians 2:15, for example, Paul said to "stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you." For Catholics, that means revering teaching from the church fathers, such as Augustine of Hippo, to complement—but not supersede—what is in Scripture.