Should Protestants Evangelize Catholics? :: By Howard Green

As I preached outside of the 2021 National Catholic Youth Convention in Indianapolis, I was reprimanded by a Catholic Priest for sharing the gospel near a conference where he said, “These kids are on fire for the Lord.” Although it was a momentary interaction, it encapsulated a question that needs to be asked in light of scripture and of eternity. The question is, should Protestants evangelize Catholics?

There are numerous opinions from both Protestant and Catholic theologians, laypersons, and everyone in between. One set of opinions comes from a well-known document and ensuing movement called Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT). The ECT document was signed by prominent Evangelical and Catholic leaders in 1994, and the ecumenical movement it inspired endures to this day. As we seek to answer the question about whether or not to share the gospel with Catholics, I will briefly summarize the ECT document and the signatories’ position on our question.

There are numerous troubling proclamations in the document, but the one that stands out is: “To explore patterns of working and witnessing together in order to advance the one mission of Christ.” The premise of the statement presupposes that (Protestants and Catholics) are on one mission together. The mission of Christ is clearly stated in Mark 16:15. If our aim as Christians is The Great Commission, isn’t it important to know who we’re “on Mission” with and who we should be evangelizing? Of course, we should know because our evangelism efforts for lost souls will matter in eternity.

In order to answer the question of whether or not to evangelize Catholics, we must come to an understanding of the means of salvation. Jesus made the good news so simple that even a child could understand it in John 3:16 and 3:36. For two-thousand years, the biblical message has been that we’re saved by grace through faith, we can’t earn salvation, and we can’t work our way to heaven. On the other hand, there are seven sacraments that are essential to the Catholic doctrine of salvation. Moreover, the Council of Trent, seventh session Canon 4 states: If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary for salvation but are superfluous and that without them or without the desire of them, men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification, though all are not necessary for each one, let him be anathema.

So which is it, grace through faith in Jesus or works-based salvation through keeping the sacraments? Ephesians 2:8 tells us that salvation is clearly a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we’re created in Jesus for good works, so we should walk in them.

There are other glaring differences between sound Bible doctrine and Catholic traditions regarding salvation. The Catholic church teaches that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was insufficient because it states thatpurgatory is a final expiation to rid our souls of any venial sins, attachment to sin, and its temporal effects. This purging fire is based on the traditions of men, not on the Bible, which clearly teaches that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. Hebrews 9:22.

One final thought on differences regarding salvation. We must examine the Christ of Roman Catholicism in light of what the Apostles and early church taught about Jesus. The Eucharistic Christ of the Catholic Church is made present during Mass when the bread and wine are “miraculously” transformed into the actual presence of Jesus. The Catechism paragraph 1367 states: The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice. Essentially, Jesus is being sacrificed over and over during Mass. This is a contradiction of scripture because Hebrews 10:10-14 says that Jesus offered up His body as a sacrifice once for all. The Bible teaches that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, Hebrews 1:3 and Acts 2:33. Jesus is not present in the Eucharist (communion elements); this teaching represents a false Jesus. 2 Corinthians 11:4 and Matthew 24:24-26.

As we are weighing our answer to the question about evangelizing Catholics, let’s consider what the well-known evangelical leaders of Evangelicals and Catholics Together agreed to. They agreed that:

“It is neither theologically legitimate nor a prudent use of resources for one Christian community to proselytize among active adherents of another Christian community. Today, in this country and elsewhere, Evangelicals and Catholics attempt to win converts from one another’s folds. In some ways, this is perfectly understandable and perhaps inevitable. In many instances, however, such efforts at recruitment undermine the Christian mission by which God’s Word binds us.” – Signatories of Evangelicals and Catholics Together

Evangelical leaders agreed that it is theologically illegitimate and will undermine the “Christian mission” to win converts from another Christian community. After examining the indisputable differences between sound Biblical doctrine and the teachings of the Catholic Church, I have to conclude that many people in the Catholic Church haven’t heard the gospel. Moreover, I have to conclude the Evangelical leaders of the ECT document and movement prioritized ecumenism rather than biblical discernment and contending for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

With this in mind, the clear answer is yes, we should certainly share the gospel with Catholics. I’m under no illusion that everyone in Protestant churches is saved. Christians must reach out and share the gospel with Catholics and Protestants alike. I’m encouraged by the way one Bible teacher and author explains our desire to share the gospel with Catholics when he writes:

“As Christians, we must be equipped to present the truth in love. Often this requires that we expose deception with the light of God’s word. People are searching for spiritual meaning, purpose, and satisfaction. May the Lord enable each one of us by His Spirit to be faithful witnesses to this generation.” — Roger Oakland – Another Jesus, the eucharistic christ and the new evangelization

If someone dies without coming to saving faith in Jesus, it is eternally tragic. This is why we must reach out to Catholics. I have to believe there are some people in the Catholic Church who are saved. One Bible teacher explains the predicament they are in and their need for solid Christian fellowship like this:

“It is possible that there are some Catholics [who] are my brothers and sisters and have come to faith in Christ. When they do, they come into a deep conflict between what they now know is the truth of the word of God and what the Catholic Church teaches. They don’t want to leave because of family, friends, and this has been their life, but they can’t stay.” – Dave Hunt – Video: The Counterfeit Christianity of Roman Catholicism

He goes on to give various reasons why they can’t stay in the Catholic Church, knowing what they now know since they are born-again believers.

I want to close with a word to Catholics. Dear Catholic friends, it is with a deep sense of humility, love, and urgency that I write this article. We cannot compromise on God’s word, the Bible, because it tells us there is only one way to heaven, and that is through the finished work of Jesus on the cross 1 Corinthians 1:17. The Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?” They responded, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” The apostles didn’t mention purgatory or the sacraments, including the Eucharist, in order to be saved Acts 16:30-31. The Jailers’ baptism that followed was an act of obedience.

Please examine the teachings of the Catholic Church and compare them with what the Bible says about salvation. You will find several biblically-based resources at the end of this article. I believe if you take an objective look at what the Catholic Church teaches and its traditions of man vs. what the Bible clearly teaches, you may be compelled by the Holy Spirit to leave the Roman Catholic church and come into true Christian fellowship with other believers.

All for Him,



Link to the Concerning The Times with Howard Green podcast:

Concerning The Times with Howard Green

Howard Green

Links to cited resources:

Book by Roger Oakland: Another Jesus? The eucharistic christ and the new evangelization, click here.

Video by Dave Hunt: The Counterfeit Christianity of Roman Catholicism, click here.

Video by Howard Green: Preaching outside 2021 National Catholic Youth Convention, click here.