Evangelicals and Catholics: One Body?

A good summary of the recent alliances of evangelicals and Catholics appeard in the New York Times [preserved here]. Once vehemement opponents on almost every issue, evangelicals and Catholics have indeed found common ground in recent years on various moral issues:

Now conservatives in both groups share the sense that they are fighting a losing battle against secularism, relativism and a trend that the Christianity Today editorial brands “hypermodern individualism.” Though miles apart on salvation, they find common ground in the language of moral absolutes. Evangelicals have thoroughly adopted Pope John Paul II’s language on the “culture of life” to convey their anti-abortion principles. In a recent poll of evangelicals, the pope had higher favorability ratings (59 percent) than either Jerry Falwell (44 percent) or Pat Robertson (54 percent).

While it’s not surprising that most evangelicals do not view Pat Robertson as a mouthpiece for the faith, it is noteworthy that many evangelicals have shed the isolationism of fundamentalism and recognized that alliances with Catholics could be useful.

I’ll always have major theological differences with Catholics. Unless they’re ready to do away with the doctrine of transubstantiation, among other things, I’ll never take communion with Catholics. I find the papacy and the soteriology of the Roman church just as error-filled as they do the doctrine of justification by faith alone. The faiths will never be reconciled on theological grounds, as one would have to assume the other.

The differences between our faiths are many, yet I am delighted to stand beside Catholics against the spirit of the age. In many areas, such as the fight against abortion, and other social issues, Catholics have paved the way and graciously allowed evangelicals to come alongside. A utopia it will never be, but there is much we can learn from each other. May God give us both the grace to do so.

2 thoughts on “Evangelicals and Catholics: One Body?”

  1. You might not be aware, but Lutherans and Catholics came to a considerable agreement in 1999 with their Joint Declaration on Justification (Best link I could find on short notice –> http://www.ctsfw.edu/ctq/joint.htm). So the Protestant and Catholic groups may not be so far apart any more.

    That said, the doctrine of transubstantiation is still very disturbing. It’s almost nauseating if you think about it too long.

  2. Kyle,

    I know of several attempts for evangelical-Catholic reconciliation (the recent Evangelicals and Catholics Together project being the most notable), but I was unaware of the Lutheran-Catholic agreement.

    I took a look at the link you provided and it looks to me that little was accomplished. Sure, there is a statement regarding justification by faith, but the terms are left to each group to define. What that means to a Catholic will be much different from what that means to a Lutheran.

    That’s part of the problem with theological debate today is that two groups using the same terminology can be speaking about two completely different things.

    To make real progress, the Catholic church would need to rescind the ex-cathedre statements of the Council of Trent that anathametize protestant believers. These statements are supposedly infallible, yet the non ex-cathedre statements of the Vatican II council seem to go in a different direction, welcoming protestants as brothers.

    In the end, the Roman Catholic Church would have to change its teaching. In my opinion, this would be highly unlikely, but who knows? The RCC did recently remove the ban from Jan Hus. Could Luther be the next to be welcomed back into the RCC fold? I doubt it.

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