In recent decades, evangelicals and Catholics have come together to face seemingly intractable social problems. Then, in 1994, 20 evangelical and Catholic leaders from North America, including public intellectuals Charles Colson and Richard John Neuhaus, organized an informal discussion group, Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT). The group issued a joint declaration, "The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium," which discussed issues such as abortion that evangelicals and Catholics could jointly address.
ECT's endorsers also affirmed certain common tenets of the Christian faith, including (without defining it) justification by faith. Prominent evangelical theologians such as R. C. Sproul complained that Colson had been duped. The Southern Baptist Convention pressured another signatory, Richard Land, to erase his signature. He did.
Theologian J. I. Packer's participation in ECT was most perplexing to some critics. Although a handful of Reformed leaders accused him of high treason, Packer did not back down. He reiterated his belief that "good evangelical Protestants and good Roman Catholics" are Christians. And he argued that the world needs an alliance of devoted believers.
Wheaton College historian Mark Noll and writer Carolyn Nystrom share Packer's spirit of ecumenical charity. The headline-grabbing title of Is the Reformation Over? boldly implies an answer. But the book's subtitle, An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism, suggests its true value. ECT's detractors get little space, but readers will learn much about modern efforts to improve evangelical-Catholic relations. However, they may benefit most from Noll and Nystrom's irenic (and reluctantly critical) exploration of what still divides ...1
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