Evangelicals and Catholics Together

You may have heard about the ecumenical dialogue group "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" headed by Chuck Colson and Fr. Richard John Neuhaus. The group has done some remarkable work in finding common ground and reaching consensus on theological and social issues.

You may also have heard that Fr. Neuhaus recently died, as did Avery Cardinal Dulles, another leader in this dialogue from the Catholic side. ChristianityToday (CT) recently ran this interview with Colson on the significance of Neuhaus to the movement and the good work for Christian unity that was done. I've included a bit of that interview because it also touches on some of the remarkable consensus that has been reached on the doctrine of justification by faith. As I have mentioned in the past, THE issue that touched off the Reformation no longer need be church-dividing. As you see in the CT article, Evangelicals and Catholics together have also been working on statements about Mary and other controverted issues.

I will keep "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" in my prayers - that God may continue to use this movement to reveal common ground and common faith - that we may all be one.

How will Neuhaus' death affect Evangelicals and Catholics together?
It's a terrible setback because Cardinal Avery Dulles died a month before Neuhaus died. It was like a double-barreled blow. They were the principal leaders on the Catholic side of the dialogue. In some respects, those are two giants of the faith that you can't replace. But God in his sovereignty, his providence, knows exactly what he's doing.
The timing of Neuhaus's and Dulles's deaths is really significant when you realize that Pope Benedict on November 19 in what was otherwise a routine audience in St. Peter's square, gave a
homily on justification and fully embraced the position that Evangelicals and Catholics Together had taken [in the 1997 document, "Gift of Salvation"]. He didn't identify it as such, but that's what he did.
Eleven years after that document was written, the Pope, the head of the church, concluded his homily by saying Luther was right, so long as you don't exclude charity, that is love, and the works that flow from love. Which of course none of us does.
Almost at the same time that statement was issued, the two Catholics who were willing to say they agreed with what the reformers meant when they said sola fide died. It's as if "Okay, you finished your task. The big issue that divided us in the Reformation has now been settled, so you guys can come home and rest."
It's a little bit eerie. The two of them going just weeks apart does not suggest to me that God does not care about the continuing work of ECT but that the first major breakthrough had been accomplished. It's amazing timing.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home