When Richard John Neuhaus died January 8, Prison Fellowship's Charles Colson didn't just lose a friend of 25 years. He also lost his partner in convening Evangelicals and Catholics Together. Since its first publication in 1994, "The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium," the group has issued other consensus statements on salvation, the relationship between Scripture and tradition, the communion of saints, and other issues. It is next set to issue a document on Mary, the Mother of Jesus. But can the movement continue without its chief Roman Catholic architect? Christianity Today international editor Susan Wunderink asked Colson, a Christianity Today columnist, what lies ahead.
How will Neuhaus' death affect Evangelicals and Catholics together?
It's a terrible setback because Cardinal Avery Dulles died a month before Neuhaus died. It was like a double-barreled blow. They were the principal leaders on the Catholic side of the dialogue. In some respects, those are two giants of the faith that you can't replace. But God in his sovereignty, his providence, knows exactly what he's doing.
The timing of Neuhaus's and Dulles's deaths is really significant when you realize that Pope Benedict on November 19 in what was otherwise a routine audience in St. Peter's square, gave a homily on justification and fully embraced the position that Evangelicals and Catholics Together had taken [in the 1997 document, "Gift of Salvation"]. He didn't identify it as such, but that's what he did.
Eleven years after that document was written, the Pope, the head of the church, concluded his homily by saying Luther was right, so long as you don't exclude charity, that is love, and the works that flow from love. Which of course none of us does.
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