Third: do we recognize that in our time mission ventures that involve evangelicals and Catholics side by side, not only in social witness but in evangelism and nurture as well, have already emerged? We ought to recognize this, for it is a fact.

From the many available examples, I take three. Among them, they illustrate the point sufficiently. The late Francis Schaeffer focused the concept of co-belligerence, that is, joint action for agreed objectives by people who disagree on other things, and then implemented it by leading evangelicals into battle alongside Roman Catholics on the abortion front, where - thank God! - they remain. Billy Graham's cooperative evangelism, in which all the churches in an area, of whatever stripe, are invited to share, is well established on today's Christian scene. And so are charismatic get-togethers, some of them one-off, some of them regular, and some of them huge, where the distinction between Protestant and Catholic vanishes in a Christ-centered unity of experience. So the togetherness that ECT pleads for has already begun.

ECT, then, must be viewed as fuel for a fire that is already alight. The grassroots coalition at which the document aims is already growing. It can be argued that, so far from running ahead of God, as some fear, ECT is playing catch-up to the Holy Spirit, formulating at the level of principle a commitment into which many have already entered at the level of practice; and certainly, the burden of proof must rest on any who wish to deny that this is so.

I conclude, then, on grounds of biblical principle, reinforced by current pressures and precedents, that ECT's modeling of an evangelical-Roman Catholic commitment to partnership in mission within set limits and without convictional ...

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In the Magazine

December 12, 1994

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