Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove
—1 Corinthians 4:2
movement exists in America today hoping that Roman Catholics and
Evangelical Christians will join forces and recognize that the things
that unite them outweigh the things that divide them. But having
examined some of the biblical doctrines that have divided Protestants
and Catholics for 450 years, those who claim to really have reached
agreement on these matters must explain:
Precisely what they agreed to.
Historically who was right and who was wrong so that agreement could
now be reached (or did both sides come to a new
3. How the
affirmations agreed to were supported, not
opposed by God’s Word (documenting that, in fact, the
affirmations did not deny scriptural teaching).
4. How the
doctrine of justification, which has been the main point of
contention, was finally resolved.
In our world
today, it must be kept in mind that an agreement could possibly
be forged by fringe leaders from both sides who totally ignore
Scripture. But such an agreement would not be biblically based and would
be rejected by both Protestants and Catholics who love Christ and hold
to the authority of Scripture.
But the reason
that the 1994 "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" statement caused a
lot of interest was because 40 respected Evangelical and Catholic
leaders who hold to the authority of the Bible said they had come to an
Now it is easy
to understand how some Evangelicals and Catholics would wish to put
aside as many differences as possible in order to help address the moral
crises destroying so many lives everywhere.
agreement goes beyond mere concern with social issues as the old Moral
Majority did. In other words, this agreement is more than different
groups working for social causes. It is based upon different groups
uniting together as one spiritual family under the banner of
While we can
clearly sympathize with the motives of these tenderhearted people,
united social action must not be at the expense of truth, and unity
should never be allowed to eclipse the most important spiritual truth of
all: the gospel.
is this: In spite of the announced unity, is it a true unity? Is there a
true biblical basis for Catholics and Evangelicals to unite spiritually?
And can those who announced this unity demonstrate the basis on which
this unity was arrived at?
already shown why the doctrine of justification by faith alone and the
true nature of the gospel are watershed issues that can be of no less
importance today than the same issues debated during the Reformation
days. We have previously documented biblically why salvation is by grace
through faith alone. Works (even those cooperating with faith and done
in the power of Christ) are not in any way contributing factors to
obtaining salvation. Having realized this, we are now prepared to
examine the "Catholics and Evangelicals Together" statement.
It should be
noted that the thrust of this document is cultural cooperation in the
face of a culture rapidly disintegrating morally. We do not deny that
Catholics and Evangelicals can work together for the betterment of
society, or as the report itself correctly points out, to counter the
secularism and threats of Islam against the Christian Church. We agree
with this. But the task of moral and cultural revitalization is not the
key issue here where the gospel is at stake.
on both sides have hailed this important document as a historic
event—even as the most historic event since the Reformation. What was
agreed to by both sides?
this document a major new assumption was made concerning the
relationship between Evangelicals and Catholics. The Evangelicals agreed
that all Roman Catholics are genuine Christians, and the Roman Catholics
agreed that all Evangelicals are genuine Christians.
relationship can be seen in the following statements:
and Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ.2
called [together] and we are therefore resolved to explore patterns of
working and witnessing together in order to advance the one mission of
that there is one church of Christ.4
confidently acknowledge the guidance of the Holy Spirit.5
We are bound
together by Christ and his cause.6
We thank God
for the discovery of one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.7
search for a fuller and clearer understanding of God’s revelation.8
statements there is no doubt whatever that the signers of this document
are declaring that Evangelicals and Catholics are Christians together.
Confidently, the Evangelical and Catholic leaders affirmed in many
As Christ is
one, so the Christian mission is one.... The mission that we embrace
together is the necessary consequence of the faith that we affirm
This is a
time of opportunity—and... responsibility—for Evangelicals and
Catholics to be Christians together.10