The Gift of Salvation," a document expressing significant theological agreement between evangelicals and Roman Catholics, is drawing mixed reactions from leading evangelicals.
The document (CT, Dec. 8, 1997, p. 34) represents signers' ability "to express a common faith in Christ and so to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters in Christ." It has been signed by 16 Roman Catholic leaders and 19 leading evangelicals, including theologians Thomas Oden, J. I. Packer, and Timothy George; seminary presidents Richard Mouw (Fuller) and Kent Hill (Eastern Nazarene); scholars Mark Noll and Os Guinness; Bill Bright, Campus Crusade for Christ; author Max Lucado; and Robert Seiple, World Vision.
Signers of the document, released November 12, gave assurances that "for the first time in 450 years, evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics have publicly agreed to a common understanding of salvation."
Some scholars outside the drafting process have applauded the effort. Roger Nicole, of Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, told CT, "Although I might have used a slightly different expression in a few places, I am so pleased with the context and mood of this document."
However, several leading Southern Baptists disagree. "The document appears to be inherently inconsistent," says Phil Roberts, director of interfaith witness for the sbc North American Mission Board. "The basic agreements regarding salvation appear to be nullified by the questions which the document says require further exploration. How is it that sacramental grace is still an outstanding question [when] salvation by faith alone is affirmed by the document?"
Mark Coppenger, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Missouri, agrees. "I loved ...1