Local churches, ideally, are places of unity: striving to affirm their members’ shared identity and create a sense of belonging, whether through potlucks, small groups, or doctrinal statements. They also can be places of great diversity—points of intersection where distinctions in culture, history, and even belief can lead to friction or celebration (or, more often than not, both).

For some church members, that diversity can be a frightening obstacle, prompting them to wall themselves off and hunker down in cultural and theological foxholes. For leaders like Chris Castaldo, though, the church’s variety is an invitation to charitable dialogue—especially between Protestants and Catholics.

A Long Island native, Castaldo was born and raised a Catholic before converting to Protestantism. He now serves as lead pastor of Naperville, Illinois’s New Covenant Church; however, “equipping evangelicals for constructive interaction with Catholic friends and loved ones,” as his site states, has long been a centerpiece of his ministry.

We asked Castaldo to share what he’s learned about bridging the Protestant-Catholic divide. Here’s what he had to say:

We read in John 1:14 that Jesus came full of grace and truth. So often, when we sit down with Catholic family and friends to discuss faith, we fall off one side of the horse or the other: We’re either foaming-at-the-mouth pit bulls going for the jugular, or we’re so open-minded that our brains fall out. I think that our opportunity, our calling, is to be people of theological integrity who articulate clearly and cogently what the Bible teaches, and at the same time, just as we take the Bible seriously, to take people seriously—to ...
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