On FB I am forever seeing disputes breaking out over various theological points, disputes between Catholics and Protestants of course, but also between Tridentine and Vatican II Catholics and between various schools of Protestant thought (Lutheran, Calvinist, Pre-millennialist).
I wonder how useful theological abstraction is to a Christian life. As an atheist who became Episcopalian and Lutheran and eventually accepted the Roman Church, I am dismayed by the disputes over words the various parties are constantly engaged in. A word like "justification", which seems rather literally simple in the NT becomes a shibboleth in the hands of all parties and is used as justification for helling and damning those they disagree with, generally on questions they do not understand, if only because they do not have a sound and thorough knowledge of Greek.
On the endless argument over Faith versus Works, the first thing I observed was the widespread confusion over the term works, which can mean works of charity, which we are called upon to perform, and the works dictated by the Old Law, which were the delight of the Pharisees--what to eat and when, etc. Lumping the two together, as is so often done, leads to confusion and animosity. John Henry Newman's last Anglican sermons includes one in which he goes point by point over passages showing the parallelism of phrasing and thought that makes faith and works almost identical. I used to use the example of a drowning man. You swim to rescue him and offer your hand, but he pushes you away. "Don't you trust me?" you ask, and he screams, "I trust you. I have faith," but he refuses to take your hand. Truly in that case, faith without works is dead.
I am just a little tired of Catholics and Protestants who seem so Hell-bent on sending each other to perdition. There is a decree of the early Church--I am too lazy to look it up and I am a thousand miles away from my library--in which it was decided that Arian heretics who died for refusing to deny Christ were Christian martyrs. So, an Arian who did not have his head straight on the Trinity could go to Heaven because he died for love of Christ?
The older I get the more I sympathize with generous Christians like the dissenter Richard Baxter and the Baptist John Bunyan, who refused to condemn sincere Christians who, as they believed, cleaved to false opinions. If it take intelligence and study to understand and accept a complex doctrine such as predestination or transubstantiation there is small hope for any of us, and none for the Greekless pontificators on the New Testament.