2 Reversig the Reformatio, The Catholic/Evagelical Accord Examied Copyright 1994 Published by Idia Hills Commuity Church, Systematically Teachig the Word 1000 South 84th Street, Licol, Nebraska First Pritig: 1994 (1,000 copies) Secod Pritig:1997 (3,000 copies) All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced i ay form without permissio i writig from the publisher, except i the case of brief quotatios embodied i critical articles or reviews. Scripture quotatios are from the New America Stadard Bible, Lockma Foudatio 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, All quotatios used by permissio. Visit our web Site: FAX: (402) Phoe: (402)
3 C O N T E N T S Itroductio...7 Chapter 1 The Galatia Heresy Revisited...9 Chapter 2 What Is a Christia?...13 Chapter 3 Do Catholics ad Evagelicals Really Agree?...19 Chapter 4 How Importat Are the Disagreemets?...23 Chapter 5 Is Uitig the Aswer?...27 Chapter 6 Is It Wrog to Witess to Catholics?...33 Coclusio...39 Notes
4 I N T R O D U C T I O N O March 24, 1994, leadig Evagelicals ad Roma Catholics met together to sig a documet that calls o both groups to stop tryig to covert each other ad to istead embrace each other as fellow Christias. That 25-page documet is etitled: Evagelicals ad Catholics Together: The Christia Missio i the Third Milleium. Accordig to oe author, this documet represets the most devastatig blow agaist the Gospel i at least 1000 years. 1 For the first time sice the Reformatio, Evagelicals have redefied what it meas to be a Christia ad have declared the world s oe billio Roma Catholics to be true believers. At the heart of this issue are the questios: 1) what really is the Gospel? ad 2) what makes a perso a Christia? Evagelicals traditioally have held that salvatio comes oly by believig i the fiished work of Christ o the cross ad that a perso is justified by grace through faith aloe. O the other had, Roma Catholicism has held that salvatio comes through faith plus adherece to the Roma Catholic Church ad the sacramets. Evagelical Protestats sice the Reformatio have clearly ad cosistetly declared the Roma Catholic system to be a false religious system based o works, at least util ow. This Catholic-Evagelical accord is aother step i what is called Ecumeism. Ecumeism is primarily cocered with layig aside theological differeces for the sake of uity. It is my fear though, that what we see goig o with this accord is ot promotig true, biblical uity. True uity must be based o the truth of God s Word or else it is a false uity.
5 My motive i writig this critique of that accord is ot out of a dislike for Catholics or because I do ot wat to see uity i the Body of Christ. It is my heart s desire to see Catholics come to savig faith i Jesus Christ ad I am ot agaist biblical uity. However, I must speak out agaist what I see as a serious perversio of the Gospel. I am coviced that the Catholic-Evagelical accord is i error ad has diluted the message of the Gospel. My purpose i writig this is to give a biblical evaluatio of that importat documet. Though it is ot possible to cover every statemet of that 25-page documet, I have quoted extesively from it ad have put the page umber ext to each quote. It is my itet to hoestly represet what the sigers of this documet said ad the hold it up to the light of Scripture. 5
6 C H A P T E R O N E The Galatia Heresy Revisited The oe thig that sets true, biblical Christiaity apart from all other religios is its emphasis o salvatio by grace through faith aloe. The Apostle Paul said, For we maitai that a ma is justified by faith apart from works of the law (Rom. 3:28). He also stated, For by grace you have bee saved through faith; ad that ot of yourselves, it is the gift of God; ot as result of works (Eph. 2:8 9). Paul could ot have bee ay clearer. Salvatio comes by believig i Jesus Christ aloe. There are o works that ca be doe to help i salvatio. However, Paul kew that o matter how clear he made the Gospel, there would be false teachers who would come i ad teach aother gospel. Upo leavig the Ephesia elders he said, I kow that after my departure savage wolves will come i amog you, ot sparig the flock (Acts 20:29). He kew that wheever the true Gospel was proclaimed, false teachers would come i ad promote a false gospel. That is what happeed to the church i Galatia. The church Paul helped foud was i serious trouble. A group kow as the Judaizers, had come to tow preachig a false gospel. Much of what they taught seemed right. They were orthodox i may ways ad eve preached that faith i Christ was ecessary for salvatio. However, the Judaizers also taught that i order to be saved, a perso must also observe certai aspects of the Mosaic Law, icludig cir-
7 The Galatia Heresy Revisited 7 cumcisio. They added works to the Gospel. This teachig seemed iocet to the Galatias. After all, much of what was beig taught by the Judaizers souded the same as what they had heard from Paul, but there were a few thigs added. What harm could there be i such teachig? However, Paul had a scathig rebuke for the Galatias for acceptig such teachig: I am amazed that you are so quickly desertig Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a differet gospel; which is really ot aother; oly there are some who are disturbig you, ad wat to distort the gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:6 7). The teachig that seemed so iocet to the Galatias was i fact, accordig to Paul, a differet gospel. All the Judaizers did was add a few thigs to faith i Christ, but Paul said what they preached was a etirely differet gospel, ot to be cofused with the true Gospel he preached. He the said: But eve though we, or a agel from heave, should preach to you a gospel cotrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say agai ow, if ay ma is preachig to you a gospel cotrary to that which you received, let him be accursed (Gal. 1:8 9). The warig is strog ad clear. Ayoe who adds to the Gospel i ay way is accursed which meas worthy of eteral destructio. That is how seriously Paul took the issue of the Gospel. That is a importat priciple for all Christias to kow. The Gospel is ot somethig to be tampered with. Salvatio is by faith aloe plus othig. Whoever adds to it is promotig a false gospel ad is uder the curse of God. The purity of the Gospel is a serious matter. Paul scolded the Galatias sayig, You foolish Galatias, who has bewitched you (Gal. 3:1). The Galatias had bought ito the heresy of the Judaizers, ad as a result Paul declared them to be bewitched. The Evagelical Church should have leared from the mistakes of the Galatias, yet today the Church fids herself beig bewitched. Ever sice the Reformatio, Bible-believig Christias have deouced Roma Catholicism for preachig a works-based, false gospel. However, today that is chagig. Almost 500 years after the Reformatio, leadig Evagelicals have siged a accord
8 8 Reversig the Reformatio acceptig the oe billio Catholics i the world as saved. Somethig that seemed impossible eve just a few years ago has take place.
9 C H A P T E R T W O What Is a Christia? What are the issues ivolved i this accord? Are Roma Catholics ad Evagelical Protestats really sayig the same thig? Was the Protestat Reformatio a mistake? For clarificatio, this Roma Catholic/Evagelical Accord is a documet recetly siged by leadig Evagelicals ad Roma Catholics. It is ot a official documet i that the Roma Catholic Church has ot yet officially adopted it. Nor do these Evagelical leaders formally represet Evagelical Christiaity. However, the fact that leadig Catholics ad promiet Evagelicals would sig such a documet idicates that the effect of this documet could be eormous. The ames of Evagelicals who have siged this documet reads like a list of Who s Who i Evagelicalism: Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ; Mark Kowle of Wheato College; J.I. Packer; Charles Colso; Pat Robertso; Oz Guies; Joh White from Geeva College i the Natioal Associatio of Evagelicals; ad others. Also icluded are the may Roma Catholic sigers. The itroductio starts off by sayig: We are Evagelical Protestats ad Roma Catholics who have bee led through prayer, study, ad discussio to commo covictios about Christia faith ad missio. This statemet caot speak officially for our commuities. It does ited to speak resposibly from our commuities ad to our commuities. I this statemet we ad- 9
10 10 Reversig the Reformatio dress what we have discovered both about our uity ad about our differeces. (p.1) The itroductio later says: We together pray for the fulfillmet of the prayer of our Lord: May they all be oe; as you, Father, are i me, ad I i you, so also may they be i us.... We together, Evagelicals ad Catholics, cofess our sis agaist the uity that Christ iteds for all his disciples. (p.2) It becomes clear i this documet that oeess ad uity have become the key issues. Accordig to these statemets, Catholics ad Evagelicals must start out by cofessig their sis of ot beig uified as disciples of Christ. This assumes that both groups are disciples of Christ without defiig what a true disciple is. But how ca we agree that both groups are disciples whe we have ot idetified what it meas to be a disciple of Christ? Yet this documet skips right over this key issue ad goes o to discuss cofessig si for ot beig uified as disciples: The oe Christ ad oe missio icludes may other Christias, otably the Easter Orthodox ad those Protestats ot commoly idetified as Evagelical. All Christias are ecompassed i the prayer, May they all be oe. (p.2) Notice that the word Christia has take o a very broad meaig. Whe the term Christia refers to Protestats ot commoly idetified as Evagelical, who does this iclude? This must refer to liberal Protestats. Yet may liberal, mailie Protestats would dey the deity of Christ, the virgi birth, the sufficiecy of Scripture, ad salvatio by faith i Christ aloe. Are they Christias too? So far i this documet, the term Christia ecompasses a broad rage. Not oly are Evagelicals Christias, so are Roma Catholics, Easter Orthodox, ad liberal Protestats. But what is a Christia? As we ear the Third Milleium, there are approximately 1.7 billio Christias i the world. About a billio of these are Catholics ad more tha 300 millio are Evagelical Protestats. (p.2)
11 What Is a Christia? 11 This is what happes whe the term Christia is ot defied. For may ceturies Bible-believig Christias have deouced Roma Catholicism as a false religious system. Now we read that all oe billio Catholics are Christias. Not oly that, if there are 1.7 billio Christias, with Catholics ad Evagelicals makig up 1.3 billio, that meas Easter Orthodox ad liberal Protestats must make up the remaiig 400,000 Christias. Agai, without explaatio, all these groups are lumped together as Christias: The two commuities i world Christiaity that are most evagelistically assertive ad most rapidly growig are Evagelicals ad Catholics. I may parts of the world, the relatioship betwee these commuities is marked more by coflict tha by cooperatio, more by aimosity tha by love, more by suspicio tha by trust, more by propagada ad igorace tha by respect for the truth. This is alarmigly the case i Lati America, icreasigly the case i Easter Europe, ad too ofte the case i our ow coutry. (p.3) This statemet says there is too much coflict, aimosity, suspicio ad propagada betwee Catholics ad Evagelicals aroud the world, especially i Lati America. But Roma Catholicism is the predomiat religio i Lati America. The issue is ot Roma Catholics ad Evagelicals equally covertig each other; the issue is that Catholics are covertig to Evagelical Christiaity i droves ad the Catholic Church is disturbed ad wats to do somethig about it. Who Is Covertig Whom? Christiaity Today ra a article etitled, Catholic Bishops Reew Missioary Efforts to Stem Growth of Sects. It reads, Proclaimig a ew evagelizatio, Lati America s Catholic Bishops have adopted a more Christ-cetered strategy to rebuild their flocks ad stem the flow of millios of people to o-mailie deomiatios. 2 The Catholic Church is cocered that i Lati America, millios of Roma Catholics are covertig to Evagelical Christiaity. What is their respose? They have adopted a more Christcetered strategy to rebuild their flocks. I other words, the Ro-
12 12 Reversig the Reformatio ma Catholic Church will do what is ecessary to keep their people i the Church, ad if a Christ-cetered approach is what is eeded, the they will go Christ-cetered. The article also says, May people i the Catholic Church are ow i a paic, said a pastor from Bueos Aires. Catholic leaders have had the attitude that Lati America was their property, a false assumptio. The Roma Catholic Church is i a paic over the loss of millios of people to Evagelical Christiaity ad ow we see the Roma Catholic Church sigig a agreemet with Evagelicals sayig we should ot be tryig to covert each other. Whe is the last time you heard of groups of Evagelicals crossig over to Catholicism? The Catholic Church gave up othig i this accord. It is o woder they would be happy to sig such a agreemet. Idetifyig the Oppositio This documet ot oly states that Catholics ad Evagelicals should ot be tryig to covert each other; it also says what their focus should be: The Christia missio, which is directed to the etire huma commuity, must be advaced agaist formidable oppositio. I some cultures, that missio ecouters resurget spiritualities ad religios that are explicitly hostile to the claims of the Christ. Islam, which i may istaces deies the freedom to witess to the Gospel, must be of icreasig cocer to those who care about religious freedom ad the Christia missio. (p.3) Notice what has bee doe here. These me wat to redefie who the eemies of the Gospel are. They are sayig that the real eemies to the Gospel are those, such as Muslims, who do ot eve call themselves Christias. They are the real eemy. As Evagelicals ad Catholics, we dare ot by eedless ad loveless coflict betwee ourselves give aid ad comfort to the eemies of the cause of Christ. (p.4) But it must be asked, who are the eemies of Christ? Are Muslims ad those who would ot ame the ame of Christ at all the
13 What Is a Christia? 13 oly eemies to the Gospel of Christ? If this were the case, why did t Paul embrace the Judaizers he referred to i Galatias? They claimed to believe i Christ. Paul probably had much he would have agreed o with the Judaizers. Yet Paul said they were accursed. Sayig they believed i Christ was ot eough. They added works to the Gospel ad were codemed by Paul as those who preached a false gospel. Professig to be a Christia does ot ecessarily make oe a Christia. Salvatio is by faith aloe plus othig. Whatever group or religio adds to the Gospel is uder the curse of God. The documet cotiues: The love of Christ compels us ad we are therefore resolved to avoid such coflict betwee our commuities ad, where such coflict exists, to do what we ca to reduce ad elimiate it. Beyod that, we are called ad we are therefore resolved to explore patters of workig ad witessig together i order to advace the oe missio of Christ.... The missio that we embrace together is the ecessary cosequece of the faith that we affirm together. (p.4) Do we as Evagelicals have a commo faith, witess, ad missio with Roma Catholics? Is it true that the oe billio Catholics i the world share the same glorious salvatio that Evagelical believers i Jesus Christ have? We are to let the love of Christ be kow but the love of Christ does ot compel us to sacrifice truth for the sake of uity.
14 C H A P T E R T H R E E Do Catholics ad Evagelicals Really Agree? The first, mai divisio of the documet is called, We Affirm Together. This sectio cotais supposed areas of agreemet betwee Catholics ad Evagelicals: Jesus Christ is Lord. That is the first ad fial affirmatio that Christias make about all of reality. (p.5) That is a importat ad essetial belief ad oe must believe this to be saved. But keep i mid that a umber of cults would also make that claim. We affirm together that we are justified by grace through faith because of Christ. (p.5) This issue is where we must be careful. Roma Catholics have o problem sayig that faith i Christ is ecessary for salvatio. But they do ot believe that faith i Christ aloe is all that is eeded for salvatio. That is what the Protestat Reformatio was fought over. The Reformers rightly argued that a perso is justified by grace through faith aloe, (cf. Ephesias 2:8) apart from ay works or sacramets whatsoever. However, Roma Catholicism teaches that the sacramets ad obediece to the church are also essetial for salvatio. That is ot faith i Christ aloe. So whe Catholics ad
15 Do Catholics ad Evagelicals Really Agree? 15 Evagelicals say that we are justified by grace through faith, are they sayig the same thig? The aswer is o. The Catholics are like the Judaizers i this area. They both teach faith, but they also add works. Therefore, Catholics ad Evagelicals are ot really sayig the same thig here. The documet would have us believe they are: All who accept Christ as Lord ad Savior are brothers ad sisters i Christ. Evagelicals ad Catholics are brothers ad sisters i Christ. (p.5) What we have here is a jump i logic. The first statemet, All who accept Christ as Lord ad Savior are brothers ad sisters i Christ, is true. The secod statemet, Evagelicals ad Catholics are brothers ad sisters i Christ, is ot ecessarily true. That depeds o whether a perso has truly accepted Christ as Lord ad Savior. Agai we come to the issue of what makes a perso a Christia. Ca a perso be saved by adherig to the Roma Catholic system? This documet would have us presuppose broad ideas of what makes a Christia. Oce a perso accepts their premise, the ext step is to make a plea for uity: However imperfect our commuio with oe aother, however deep our disagreemets with oe aother, we recogize that there is but oe church of Christ. (p.5) Terms must agai be defied. What does each group mea by the Church? Evagelicals believe i the uiversal church that is composed of all true believers aroud the world who have believed i Jesus Christ (cf. Rom. 12:5; Eph. 1:22 23). Is that what the Roma Catholic Church defies as the Church? Study ay Roma Catholic doctrial book ad it becomes clear that the Roma Catholic Church believes there is oly oe church of Christ ad they are it. The Roma Catholic Church has clearly ad cosistetly taught throughout the ceturies that the Holy Roma Church is the oly Church ad there is o salvatio i ay other place (M. Emiya, Salvatio, Necessity of the Church for, i New Catholic Ecyclopedia, Vol. 12, pp. 995, 996.). It is amazig that such a area ca be listed as a agreemet: We affirm together that Christias are to teach ad live i
16 16 Reversig the Reformatio obediece to the diviely ispired Scriptures, which are the ifallible Word of God. (p.6) It is commedable that the Roma Church holds that the Bible is the diviely ispired, ifallible Word of God. But agai, there are major differeces betwee Catholics ad Evagelicals cocerig the authority of the Bible. To their credit, some of these differeces are brought out i the documet (p.10). Evagelicals hold that the Bible aloe is the sole source of authority for livig the Christia life. The Catholic Church places traditio alogside the Bible as equally authoritative. Evagelicals believe that ay true believer ca study the Bible ad iterpret what it says. Catholicism teaches that oly the Church has the authority to iterpret the Bible. Also, Catholics ad Evagelicals have radical differeces o what the Bible actually says. I light of all these differeces, ca we say we are uified o the issue of the Bible? This sectio o We Affirm Together eds with a statemet from the Apostles Creed. This is used to emphasize the agreemets that both groups seemigly have. But i reality, all these areas that Catholics ad Evagelicals supposedly agree o are really meaigless ad irrelevat. What really couts is disagreemets. Paul could have made a log list of what he would have agreed o with the Judaizers, but he did ot. He wet straight to their errors. Mormos hold to the Apostles Creed too. Should we emphasize our uity with them? There is much we ca agree o with all kids of religios ad cults but that is ot sufficiet reaso to embrace them as fellow Christias.
17 C H A P T E R F O U R How Importat Are the Disagreemets? The secod mai sectio of the documet is called, We Hope Together. The first sectio dealt with areas of agreemet, this sectio deals with what we hope together about: We hope together that all people will come to faith i Jesus Christ as Lord ad Savior.... The church lives by ad for the Great Commissio... uity ad love amog Christias is a itegral part of our missioary witess to the Lord whom we serve. (p.7) It is assumed that sice we have already decided that Roma Catholics are brothers ad sisters i Christ we must uify with them. The third sectio of the documet is etitled We Search Together. Here it is admitted that there are areas of disagreemet betwee Catholics ad Evagelicals: We do ot presume to suggest that we ca resolve the deep ad log stadig differeces betwee Evagelicals ad Catholics. Ideed these differeces may ever be resolved short of the Kigdom Come... we warmly commed ad ecourage the formal theological dialogues of recet years betwee Roma Catholics ad Evagelicals. We ote some 17
18 18 Reversig the Reformatio of the differeces ad disagreemets that must be addressed more fully ad cadidly i order to stregthe betwee us a relatioship of trust i obediece to the truth. (p.9) This documet does admit to differeces betwee Catholics ad Evagelicals. There is the a list of the poits of differece cocerig doctrie, worship, practice, ad piety: The church as a itegral part of the Gospel or the church as a commual cosequece of the Gospel. (p.10) The former part of this statemet would refer to the Roma Catholic belief that membership i the Catholic Church is part of ad is ecessary for salvatio. The latter refers to the Evagelical belief that salvatio brigs oe ito the commuity of the Church (cf. I Cor. 12:13). Evagelicals have traditioally held that church membership is a result of salvatio ot a meas of salvatio. This is a major differece! Is a perso saved by becomig part of the Roma Church or does oe become a part of the church as a result of believig i Christ? The sole authority of Scripture (sola scriptura) or Scripture as authoritatively iterpreted i the church. (p.10) Sola Scriptura was the battle cry of the reformatio. As metioed earlier, the Catholic Church has agreed that the Bible is the Word of God, but Catholic doctrie also teaches that the Catholic Church is the oly authoritative iterpreter of the Bible. Evagelical Christiaity has held that Scripture has the authority over the Church, ot the other way aroud. Other issues icluded are: The soul freedom of the idividual Christia or the Magisterium (teachig authority) of the commuity. (p.10) The church as a local cogregatio or uiversal commuio. (p.10) Miistry ordered i apostolic successio or the priesthood of all believers. (p.10)
19 How Importat Are the Disagreemets? 19 Sacramets ad ordiaces as symbols of grace or meas of grace. (p.10) Evagelicals believe that commuio is a symbol of what God has doe for us i grace. The Roma Catholic Church teaches that sacramets are a meas of grace. I other words, Catholics say God s grace is directly commuicated to the perso by the partakig of that sacramet(s): The Lord s Supper as eucharistic sacrifice or memorial meal. (p.10) Evagelicals hold to the sacrifice of Christ as beig a sufficiet, oce-for-all evet. Catholics see the Mass as the cotiual resacrifice of Christ. Was Christ s death sufficiet or ot? Must the sacrifice be cotiual? Evagelicals throughout history have held that the Roma Catholic view of the re-sacrificig of Christ i the Mass is blasphemous ad a deial of the sufficiecy of His death: Remembrace of Mary ad the saits or devotio to Mary ad the saits. (p.10) Roma Catholics pray to ad devote themselves to Mary ad the saits. All these thigs, Evagelicals have held to be reserved oly for God. Devotio to ayoe other tha God is idolatry. Baptism as sacramet of regeeratio or testimoy to regeeratio. (p.10) This is a key salvatio issue. Catholics hold that oe must be baptized i the Catholic Church to be saved. But the Bible teaches that salvatio is by faith aloe. Baptism, accordig to Scripture, gives evidece that oe has bee saved, but it is ot a part of salvatio. All of these are areas of disagreemet as admitted by the sigers of this documet. Ay oe of these issues, let aloe all of them, should give Evagelicals sufficiet reaso ot to eter ito such a accord with Catholics. Yet, i spite of these moumetal doctrial differeces, these people are sayig, We have ot bee able to resolve these issues, but oh well, we are still Christias. We ca live with these differeces. Ca we? These differeces are every bit as large as the Judaizer s errors. Somehow Roma Catholics have ot
20 20 Reversig the Reformatio give a ich o ay of their doctries yet they have somehow bewitched Evagelical Protestats to sig a agreemet statig Catholics are really Christias. It is clear, however, that the mai issue that caot be resolved is How does oe become a child of God? How ca we just jump over that ad say We agree o a lot of other thigs, therefore, we must all be Christias. Sice we are all Christias let s go forward with our missio? That is ot the way to hadle doctrial differeces.
21 C H A P T E R F I V E Is Uitig the Aswer? The fourth sectio of this documet is etitled We Coted Together. Accordig to this sectio, Catholics ad Evagelicals should be uitig i a commo cause: As we are boud together by Christ ad His cause... (p.11) Thik about all the major doctrial differeces there are betwee Catholics ad Evagelicals. Now cosider the fact that the two groups are far apart o what it takes ad meas to be a child of God. We caot agree o these issues but we are ow all supposed to be together i the cause of Christ? If we caot resolve these issues we are ot boud together i the cause of Christ. These areas of disagreemet ivolve Christ ad His cause. The Gospel is the cause of Christ. The documet the says we should be: cotedig agaist all that opposes Christ ad His cause. (p.11) Ame. If that is true I will be cotedig agaist those who teach salvatio by sacramets, dey the sole authority of Scripture ad teach that the sacrifice of Christ o the cross was ot sufficiet. Defedig the faith meas fightig agaist may of the doctries of the Roma Catholic Church. If we caot agree o the Gospel, which 21
22 22 Reversig the Reformatio is the cause of Christ, how ca we coted together for the cause of Christ? That is osese: The cause of Christ is the cause ad missio of the church, which is, first of all, to proclaim the Good News that God was i Christ recocilig the world to Himself, ot coutig their trespasses agaist them, ad etrustig to us the message of recociliatio. (pp ) We would agree with that. We eed to preach recociliatio. But how ca we joi together with those who hold a false view of how recociliatio occurs? The Catholic Church says recociliatio occurs through the sacramets ad obediece to the church, while Evagelicals say it is through faith i the fiished work of Christ aloe. Social Uity Christias idividually ad the church corporately also have a resposibility for the right orderig of civil society.... We embrace this task hopefully; kowig that God has called us to love our eighbor, we seek to secure for all a greater measure of civil righteousess ad justice, cofidet that He will crow our efforts whe He rightly orders all thigs i the comig of his Kigdom. I the exercise of these public resposibilities there has bee i recet years a growig covergece ad cooperatio betwee Evagelicals ad Catholics. We thak God for the discovery of oe aother i cotedig for a commo cause. (p.12) What is the commo cause referred to here that brigs Catholics ad Evagelicals together? Notice it is ot theological agreemet, but social agreemet: we thak God for the discovery of oe aother as brothers ad sisters i Christ.... Together we coted for the truth that politics, law, ad culture must be secured by moral truth. (p.12) I other words, they are sayig we may ot agree o what it
23 Is Uitig the Aswer? 23 meas to be saved but we ca joi together i social causes. Would ot Mormos ad Jehovah Witesses joi together with us i these areas too? we coted together for religious freedom.... Today we rejoice together that the Roma Catholic Church as affirmed by the Secod Vatica Coucil ad boldly exemplified i the miistry of Joh Paul II is strogly committed to religious freedom ad, cosequetly, to the defese of all huma rights. (p.13) This emphasis o social uity is also see i the followig statemet: The patter of covergece ad cooperatio betwee Evagelicals ad Catholics is, i large part, a result of commo effort to protect huma life, especially the lives of the most vulerable.... We, therefore, will persist i cotedig... i order to secure the legal protectio of the ubor. (p.15) Accordig to this, the umber oe reaso Catholics ad Evagelicals have bee brought together is because of the war o abortio. The mai uifyig factor is ot doctrial agreemet but agreemet o a social issue. Certaily abortio is a heious si ad somethig all believers should be opposed to, but are we as Bible believig Christias supposed to embrace every group who agrees with us o the issue of abortio? Do we adjust our theology so we ca cotiue joiig hads with groups who march agaist abortio? May of the cults are agaist abortio too, but does this mea we should drop our theological differeces with them ad accept them as brothers ad sisters i Christ too? The followig refer to the other social issues the accord says are a basis for agreemet: We will do all i our power to resist proposals for euthaasia, eugeics, ad populatio cotrol. (p.16) We coted together for a comprehesive policy of paretal choice i educatio. (p.16)
24 24 Reversig the Reformatio We coted together agaist the widespread porography i our society, alog with the celebratio of violece, sexual depravity, ad ati-religious bigotry i the etertaimet media. (p.17) We coted for a reewed spirit of acceptace, uderstadig, ad cooperatio across lies of religio, race, ethicity, sex, ad class. (p.17) We coted for a free society with a vibrat market ecoomy. (p.17) We coted together for a reewed appreciatio of Wester culture. (p.18) We coted for public policies that demostrate reewed respect for the irreplaceable role of mediatig structures i society otably the family, churches, ad myriad volutary associatios. (p.18) Fially, we coted for a realistic ad resposible uderstadig of America s part i world affairs. (p.19) The above is a partial list of public resposibilities o which we believe there is a patter of covergece ad cooperatio betwee Evagelicals ad Catholics. (p.19) May of these thigs listed are hoorable, but what do they have to do with savig faith i Jesus Christ? Years ago, the Church wet to battle agaist the mailie deomiatios who had adopted a social gospel. Yet the same thig is happeig today. Social issues are importat, but they are ot the priority of the Church. The Church s resposibility is to preach the Gospel. This does ot mea that we totally igore social problems, but we do realize what our priority is. Paul i his day was faced with all types of social evils. There was abortio, slavery ad ill treatmet of wome. But Paul did ot say, Get the Judaizers, ad whoever else may agree with us o these issues, ad we will joi together i protestig social ijustice. It does ot matter what they believe doctrially as log as they are with us o these social issues. Paul s primary purpose was to preach the Gospel.
25 Is Uitig the Aswer? 25 Eve if we could stop every abortio ad every social evil i the world, there would still be people o their way to hell. Why? People ca be ati-abortio ad still be lost ad o their way to hell. A social gospel does ot deal with the true problem of ma. Ma s problem is a siful, depraved heart, ad the oly remedy for his coditio is the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ. May supposedly moral ad upright people who hold the right view o abortio ad other areas will still sped a eterity i hell because they ever dealt with the real issue i their life si. Do ot the eteral souls of me ad wome take priority over social harmoy? While our sese of civic resposibility is iformed ad motivated by Christia faith, our itetio is to elevate the level of political ad moral discourse i a maer that excludes o oe ad ivites the participatio of all people of good will. (p.19) Notice where this is goig. Accordig to this statemet, we should ot wat to limit our cause to just Roma Catholics ad Evagelicals. We supposedly ca get together with ayoe who agrees with us o these issues. As this happes, theology just gets weaker ad more diluted.
26 C H A P T E R S I X Is It Wrog to Witess to Catholics? The fifth mai sectio is called, We Witess Together. I this sectio, Catholics ad Evagelicals are istructed to avoid tryig to covert each other: Today, i this coutry ad elsewhere, Evagelicals ad Catholics attempt to wi coverts from oe aother s folds... such efforts at recruitmet udermie the Christia missio by which we are boud by God s Word ad to which we have recommitted ourselves i this statemet. (p.20) What does this mea to the Evagelical? If a Evagelical believer is sharig the Gospel with a Roma Catholic by cofrotig him with his lost coditio ad ecouragig him to tur to Christ to be saved, this supposedly udermies the Christia missio by which we are boud by God s Word ad this accord. But we are boud by God s Word to preach the Gospel to the lost. Now there is a redefiig of who the lost are. The oe billio Roma Catholics are o loger lost because ow we have reclassified them as Christias. Therefore, we must stop tryig to covert them: Three observatios are i order i coectio with proselytizig. First, as much as we might believe oe commuity is more fully i accord with the Gospel tha aother,
27 Is It Wrog to Witess to Catholics? 27 we as Evagelicals ad Catholics affirm that opportuity ad meas for growth i Christia discipleship are available i our several commuities. (p.22) How did Paul view the Judaizers ad the gospel they promoted? He called it a differet gospel (Phil. 1:6) ad a gospel cotrary to that which we have preached to you (Gal. 1:8). These statemets also apply to the gospel of the Catholic Church: Secod, the decisio of the committed Christia with respect to his commual allegiace ad participatio must be assiduously respected. (p.22) I other words, if a believer is sharig the Gospel with someoe who says he is a Roma Catholic, the believer must back off ad respect that: Third, i view of the large umber of o-christias i the world ad the eormous challege of our commo evagelistic task, it is either theologically legitimate or a prudet use of resources for oe Christia commuity to proselytize amog active adherets of aother Christia commuity. (pp.22-23) They are sayig it is ot theologically legitimate or a prudet use of resources for a Evagelical to witess to a Catholic. What this really says is, it is ot correct for a believer to witess to a usaved perso: Christia witess must always be made i a spirit of love ad humility. It must ot dey but must readily accord to everyoe the full freedom to discer ad decide what is God s will for his life. (p.23) Evagelicals are ofte accused of tryig to push their beliefs o ad covert other people. Now this documet tells Evagelicals to leave other people aloe ad let them decide what God s will for their life is. But what are we as Christias here for? Jesus commissioed us to Go therefore ad make disciples of all the atios. As ambassadors of Jesus Christ we are to tell the world what God s will is. The will of God is for everyoe to believe i His So, Jesus
28 28 Reversig the Reformatio Christ. We are ot to let everyoe decide for themselves what they thik the will of God is: Similarly, bearig false witess agaist other persos ad commuities, or castig ujust ad ucharitable suspicios upo them, is icompatible with the Gospel. (p.23) Notice what this statemet implies. Witessig to Catholics ad deoucig the Roma Catholic system are characterized as false witess, ad castig ujust ad ucharitable suspicios. But was Paul bearig false witess agaist ad castig ujust ad ucharitable suspicios at the Judaizers whe he accused them of preachig a false gospel? If someoe is promotig a false gospel, are we ot to cofrot it? I cosiderig the may corruptios of Christia witess, we, Evagelicals ad Catholics, cofess that we have sied agaist oe aother ad agaist God. We most earestly ask the forgiveess of God ad oe aother, ad pray for the grace to amed our ow lives ad that of our commuities. (p.23) The Evagelical sigers of this documet, i a sese, are apologizig for the Protestat Reformatio ad all that it stood for. They are sayig, We apologize for makig a issue out of justificatio by faith aloe, for holdig to sola scriptura, for tryig to covert Catholics o their way to hell, ad for sayig that Roma Catholicism is a works-based religio that is leadig people astray. This documet makes light of the heavy price the Reformers had to pay as they fought for the pure Gospel. What about the millios of godly me ad wome who gave their lives over such issues? Were they mistake? Were me like Hugh Latimer, Marti Luther, Joh Calvi, Joh Wycliffe, ad other leaders of the Reformatio makig somethig out of othig? Was the Reformatio just oe big mistake? Apparetly, the sigers of this documet thik so. Now we who follow the priciples ad example of the Reformers, who fought for a pure Gospel, are called o to repet ad ask forgiveess: Repetace ad amedmet of life do ot dissolve remaiig differeces betwee us. I the cotext of evageliza-
29 Is It Wrog to Witess to Catholics? 29 tio ad reevagelizatio, we ecouter a major differece i our uderstadig of the relatioship betwee baptism ad the ew birth i Christ: For Catholics, all who are validly baptized are bor agai ad are truly, however imperfectly, i commuio with Christ. (p.23) Notice, that whe all is said ad doe, the Catholic Church still teaches the same thig baptism i the church is a ecessary part of salvatio: For most Evagelicals, but ot all, the experiece of coversio is to be followed by baptism as a sig of ew birth. For Catholics, all the baptized are already members of the church, however dormat their faith ad life. (p.24) The Catholic Church still isists that baptism ito the Catholic Church makes oe a Christia o matter what. Eve if their lives are dormat of ay Christia character they are still supposedly i a right relatioship with God. But that is ot what the Bible teaches: These differig beliefs about the relatioship betwee baptism, ew birth, ad membership i the church should be hoestly preseted to the Christia who has udergoe coversio. But agai, his decisio regardig commual allegiace ad participatio must be assiduously respected. (p.24) Addig baptism to the Gospel is serious. If someoe is baptized i the Catholic Church ad says they are a Christia, they are ot supposed to be challeged accordig to this statemet: There are the differeces betwee us that caot be resolved here. But o this we are resolved: All authetic witess must be aimed at coversio to God i Christ by the power of the Spirit. Those coverted... must be give full freedom ad respect as they discer ad decide the commuity i which they will live their ew life i Christ. I such discermet ad decisio, they are ultimately resposible to God, ad we dare ot iterfere with the exercise of that resposibility. (p.24)
30 30 Reversig the Reformatio The oe thig that this documet says over ad over is, Do t try to covert each other. I the ed it is really Evagelicals who are told ot to witess to Catholics: I this discussio of witessig together we have touched o difficult ad log stadig problems. The difficulties must ot be permitted to overshadow the truths o which we are, by the grace of God, i firm agreemet. (pp ) This statemet is sayig that the theological disagreemets we have must ot stad i the way of what we agree o. We may ot agree o the Gospel ad what it meas to be saved, but we ca agree o social issues, so let s build o that.
31 C O N C L U S I O N As the documet eds, the emphasis is o Catholics ad Evagelicals joiig together: As we grow i mutual uderstadig ad trust, it is our hope that our efforts to evagelize will ot jeopardize but will reiforce our devotio to the commo tasks to which we have pledged ourselves i this statemet. (p.25) The fial setece of the coclusio reads: We do kow that this is a time of opportuity ad, if of opportuity, the of resposibility for Evagelicals ad Catholics to be Christias together i a way that helps prepare the world for the comig of Him to whom belogs the kigdom, the power, ad the glory forever. Ame. (p25) Ca this really be happeig? How ca leadig Evagelicals sig this documet ad say Yes, this is true? Me like J.I. Packer, Charles Colso, Bill Bright, ad Pat Robertso have all agreed ad siged this documet. With oe blaket statemet, oe billio Catholics have all bee declared Christias. The Roma Catholic Church has give up othig. But Evagelicals have abadoed historic Christiaity. Whoever dreamed of the day that leadig Evagelicals would sig such a documet? The Bible has wared that i the last days people will ot edure soud doctrie ad will tur away from the truth (2 Tim. 4:3 4). People will pay attetio to doctries of de- 31
32 32 Reversig the Reformatio mos (1 Tim. 4:1). We as believers eed to be aware. With the abadoig of soud, biblical doctrie we must stad for the faith. If Jesus does ot come soo, the Church could be i for difficult times. As may Evagelicals ad Catholics become more ad more uified, true Bible-believig Christias will be viewed as a problem. We will be viewed as those who are divisive. Should we be discouraged by the future? No. Jesus has promised to take care of us as we are faithful to Him. Our call is still the same preach the Gospel. Paul said, For I am ot ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvatio to everyoe who believes (Rom. 1:16). May God give us the grace to remai true to Him ad His Gospel i these difficult but excitig days.
33 N O T E S 1 Dave Hut, The Gospel Betrayed The Berea Call, May Ke Serbi, Catholic Bishops Reew Missioary Efforts to Stem Growth of Sects, Christiaity Today, December 14, 1992, pp
34 Other Books by Gil Rugh Assurace: Our Seal ad Pledge Baptism: Truth or Traditio Bible Study Tools for the Layma (The) Bible Workbook: What Is It All About? By Faith: Abraham By Faith: Noah Calviism & Armiiaism (The) Church: God s Program for Miistry Church Disciplie A Evidece of Christia Love Deliverace Workbook Demoizatio of the Believer: A Ubiblical Teachig Exposed (A) Differet Gospel: A Evaluatio of the Teachigs of Robert Schuller Divisio & Diversio Divorce o Trial Electio: Whose Choice? Edurace: Stadig Firm i a Throw-Away World Evagelism: Treadig the Roma Road Freedom From Addictio Givig: A Result of Grace Homosexuality: A Biblical Perspective Istructio to Husbads, Fathers & Their Wives Istructio to Wives, Mothers & Their Husbads Livig the Life Marks of the True Believer Prayer Promise Keepers ad the Risig Tide of Ecumeism Prophecy Update 1996 Provisio or Pealty Psychology: The Troja Horse Rederig to Caesar Reversig the Reformatio Revival ad Revival Meetigs Spiritual Gifts Statemet of Faith ad Costitutio To Earth With Love: A Study of the Perso ad Work of Jesus Christ To Tie the Kot or Not: A Biblical Study of Marriage ad the Sigle Life Whe the Bible Does t Say Willig to Pay the Price Other Tracts ad Brochures by Gil Rugh How To Study Your Bible Lordship Questio: What Does a True Believer Believe? Pare! Y Piese A Dode Va (Spaish tract) Statemet of Faith Stop! Ad Thik About Where You Are Goig What About Togues?