Whereas the Protestant Evangelical starts with sin and atonement, the Catholic builds his theology upon creation and grace. The Catholic believes that we are sinful but we are not depraved; we are sick human beings but we are still human; we have lost our likeness to God but we are still made in His image. We can never excuse our sinfulness by saying that we are only human, for, after all, what more do we want to be!
The Catholic recognizes the horror of sin because he first has some idea of what we are meant to be. It is his glimpse into the natural law of creation that also makes him want to obey the law of God. The doctrine of creation leads to repentance; without it man’s attempt to obey the moral law leads only to neuroses.
Grace restores the divine image in man. Salvation comes through growth in grace, not through some kind of substitution deal between Jesus and His Father. Because grace saves us from the effects of our sins, we are no longer slaves but friends of God. Though our sins make us unworthy to come into His presence, by divine grace we are made worthy to stand before him.
Through the re-presentation of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the sacraments rather than morality are the primary means of our salvation, “sure and certain means by which we receive grace.” That is why moral theologians such as Kenneth Kirk and Robert Mortimer insist that in the celebration of the sacraments the safest course must always be followed. And that is why Anglo-Catholics along with the rest of the Catholic world cannot accept any change in their administration that runs counter to the plain witnesss of scripture and the practice of the undivided church or casts doubt upon their reality in a period of reception ”“ not even for the sake of establishing some sort superficial political alliance with our fellow-Christians.