I don't want to be overly argumentative, but I do want to look at apologetics a lot while I study this book (i.e. blog about it). For a lot of Protestant ideologies, Romans seems to be the "go to" book. This seems to be particularly true for ideas about justification (how a person is saved). I don't know if any Protestant has actually said it to me, but I get the impression that they think that I'm (as a Catholic) making salvation too difficult, maybe trying to jump through too many hoops.
Here's my impression of the Protestant thought process as it relates to this subject:
You wanna be saved? Ask Jesus into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior, and ask Him to forgive your sins (Romans 10:9). Done.
You wanna be Catholic? Well, it's quite a process. First you have to go through 9 months of training, publicly declare your intent, and finally enter the Church. Then you have to be baptized, if you haven't been already, then you receive Confirmation and Holy Communion. If you were baptized before you're received into the Church, you'll also have to go to confession before you receive the other sacraments. Then you begin a life long process of growing in holiness, and you have to keep in mind that just as you chose to follow Christ, you could choose to abandon Him. Therefore, you're still not guaranteed heaven until you actually get there.
Huh, the Catholic view doesn't seem to fit well in light of verses like Romans 5:1: "Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Or: "No human being will be justified in [God's] sight by works of the law... we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law" (Rom 3:20, 28). "[Y]ou are not under the law but under grace." (Rom 6:14). Romans 7:6 "[B]y dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." See also Romans 8:3, and 10:4.
Catholics! Set yourselves free from the rules and regulations of the Catholic Church and become alive in Christ!
That is the attitude that I want to respond to as we work through Romans. I want to dig deep to talk about what Catholics believe and how the book of Romans influences that belief. The deacon's wife that is presenting this presentation has already alluded to the fact that we will be addressing some of these very issues.
By the way, I think that the Protestant view of Catholics (as I understand it) has a lot for Catholics to learn from. I would especially say that any Catholic that follows all the rules of the Church but has no idea what it means to have a personal encounter with Christ needs to pay attention.