The recent statement from evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders on the Christian doctrine of justification "sells out" the Reformation, according to James Boice, chairman of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (ACE).
The Alliance in late February issued a pointed response to "The Gift of Salvation," a statement from Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) on the doctrine of justification and the mandate for global evangelism (CT, Jan. 12, 1998, p. 61). ECT is an independent group of scholars and ministry leaders, formed in 1994. "I hate to use selling us out, but it seems to me that's what it does," Boice said to Christianity Today of the latest ECT document, a follow-up to an earlier controversial statement (CT, May 15, 1995, p. 53). "It really sells out the Reformation." But ECT evangelicals vehemently disagree. Timothy George argues, "We are engaged in an ecumenism of conviction, not an ecumenism of accommodation."
As evangelical scholars have evaluated "The Gift of Salvation," many have given cautious support, but others, such as Boice, have been sounding the alarm. ACE's "Appeal to Fellow Evangelicals" (www.ChristianityToday.com/ct/archives) notes that "The Gift of Salvation" has "divided evangelicals from evangelicals [and] revealed that the unity we thought we had was not as deep as we believed."
The ACE statement asserts that "Gift of Salvation" falls short of the "biblical and Reformation doctrine of sola fide [faith alone]," that it is a misleading attempt to "bring harmony via ambiguous formulas," and that it undermines evangelistic outreach, especially in Catholic-majority countries.
The ten signers, mostly scholars, authors and pastors, of the ACE appeal include R. C. Sproul, John Armstrong, Michael Horton, ...1