I am about a quarter of the way through a book titled "Is the Reformation Over? An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism" by Noll and Nystrom. The book gives a very thorough assessment of the historic divide and how that has changed greatly since the 1960's. Vatican II played a large role in this amongst a host of other factors.
Noll and Nystrom list complaints Protestants have against Catholics as well as a list of complaints Catholics have against Protestants. It was the latter list that made me really think. There are some valid points, particularly in light of my experience in the Protestant church.
1) offered a "salvation" by faith that denied the need for holiness before God;
2)abandoned the Bible to the interpretation of every Tom Dick and Mary (no matter how bizarre those interpretations might be) and, by so doing, effectively stripped the Bible of normative authoritative meaning;
3) denied the ability of the Holy Spirit to work through ongoing teaching officers in the church as the Spirit had earlier worked to bring the church into existence.
4) scandalously neglected God's gracious help provided to humanity in the person of the blessed Virgin Mary and the exemplary saints;
5) rejected the apostolic authority of bishops, councils, and popes and do abetted the rising Western tide of rationalism, secularism, and moral anarchy;
6) foolishly neglected the 7 sacraments that brought God's grace to every crucial point in a persons life; and
7) forsook genuine ecclesiastical leadership of the God given community of faith in favor of a political free for all in which authority was reduced to individualism as a principle and individualistic manipulation as a practice.
Very interesting points. I agree that these are the weaknesses in Protestantism, particularly number 7. I will go through these in more detail in the future because it is very important. I thought I'd share the list for now to help get others thinking about some if these inherent problems.