Father Z picks up Sandro Magister’s story of Pope Francis’ various meetings with evangelicals with his usual comments and emphases. As usual, the comments section is most interesting. I liked this comment by Sid Cundiff:
I am unfamiliar with the people with whom Holy Father is visiting, and with their churches. Yet I have lived for 61 years in a region where most Christians are Evangelicals.
The churches with whom Catholics should be talking are, in order of importance, (1) The Eastern Orthodox Church, (2) the Oriental Churches, and (3) Evangelicals.
Far too little time has been devoted to working with Evangelicals; far too much time has been spent “dialoging” with the dying: the “mainline” Protestant Churches, among whom I include Latter-Day Anglicans. These churches are ultra-Liberal; indeed it was with them that Liberalism was born, first the Latitudinarians of the 18th C, then the Liberals of the 19th C – Thomas Arnold, Charles Kingsley, F. D. Maurice, Albert Ritschl, and the man who cost Nietzsche and Feuerbach their faith: David Strauß, and the Lutheran midwife to Modernism: Adolf von Harnack.
With the establishment of the Anglican Ordinariate, Holy Father Benedict stopped “dialoging” and sent out a lifeboat. Mother Church ought to consider if this can be done for Lutherans who have grown weary of Liberalism. Ditto to Low Church Anglicans of the N.T. Wright type. And we should be joining hands with Evangelicals, and for four reasons.
First, many of them have been told lies about us. 30 years ago in a barber’s chair, I was reading a tract on the Rosary. The barber, who attended a Fundamentalist Fortress of a Baptist church in my town, said to me “I’ve always wanted to ask a question of a Catholic.” I asked him what it was. “Can Catholics pray to God?” I strongly assured him that we can and do. He replied “Well, I always heard that Catholics had to go first to their priest, and the priest would pray to God for them.” Clearly someone had told him wrong. And this isn’t an isolated example. These people need to get to know us, and we them.
Second, no other Protestant group is so close to us in moral theology. They don’t think highly of the Sexual Revolution’s issues: Killing children, homosexual marriage (or homosexuality at all), and of the desert of Transgendered-stan.
Third they are with us with religious liberty issues. A former student of mine, now a Baptist minister, led a rally in front of the local Federal Building supporting Christian prayer at the local County Commissioners’ meetings (he invited a Catholic priest to participate in the rally). They oppose the restrictions on religious liberty in Obama Care. They want prayer in schools and have even set up their own parochial schools. (And, Priam1184, they not only have nothing in common with Moslims, but also they are Israel’s strongest supporters. )
Finally, we Catholics need to know Scripture just as well as the Evangelicals know it. Call them in this matter Role Models.
Folks, these are the people with whom we should be talking and with whom we should be marching. So I’m not upset at what Holy Father is doing. He knows we have much common ground with Evangelicals.
Fr. Z, be upset if Holy Father were to have tea with John Shelby Spong.
I think Mr. Cundiff raises a lot of good points here. As a former evangelical, I can say that many get the core of the Gospel right in ways the modernist and mainline denominations do not. I did, however, have to learn a great deal about mediation. And I have also learned that while we can talk about core issues or primary issues, where we can find agreement, in reality there are no secondary issues when it comes to the Catholic faith. Women’s ordination is a prime example of something cast off as a secondary or even tertiary issue, but unravel Holy Orders and a lot more starts coming undone. I am much more comfortable with evangelicals than I am with progressive Catholics. Also, evangelicals can vary a great deal in their beliefs and their level of holiness.
Faced with the danger of confusion, also the result of “Charismatic” currents in contemporary Catholicism, the most important and more numerous “Evangelical” and Pentecostal groups in Italy assembled days ago, in the same province of Caserta, miles from where the Pope will meet his friend. They published the following note, decidedly and rabidly anti-Catholic, filled with typical misinformation and distortion of Sacred Scripture, but with the merit of being brutally clear (unlike most Catholic leaders of this age)
Then the blog posts the statement, which, sigh, shows the work in apologetics that needs to be done. BTW, I have come to believe the Catholic faith is the most scriptural and I thank Scott Hahn for that.
Here’s the statement in full:
“Contemporary Catholicism: an evangelical perspective” the above cited organizations, following the evangelical opening on the part of evangelical circles and international and national Pentecostals, with regard to the Catholic Church and her present Pontiff, without expressing judgment on the faith of the individual faithful, retain incompatible with the teaching of Scripture a Church that proclaims herself to be the mediatrix of salvation and presents other figures as mediators of grace, given that the grace of God comes only through faith in Christ Jesus without works (Ephesians 2:8) and without the intervention of other mediators (1 Timothy 2:5).
Moreover, they retain incompatible with the teaching of Scripture a Church that assumes the responsibility of adding dogmas (like the Marian ones) to the faith once and forever transmitted to the saints (Jude 3; Apocalypse 22:18).
Finally they retain incompatible with the teaching of Scripture a Church that has its heart in a political state, a legacy of an “imperial” Church from which it assumed titles and prerogatives. Christian churches must be careful about imitating the “princes of nations” and follow the example of Jesus Who came to serve and not to be served (Mark 10:42 – 45).
Therefore, they retain that the apparent similarities with the evangelical faith and spirituality from sectors in Catholicism are not, in themselves, reasons to hope for a true change. Considering that irreconcilable and absolutely divergent theological and ethical differences still persist, they retain they are unable to start and follow-up any initiative or ecumenical opening with regard to the Roman Catholic Church, inviting all evangelicals at the national and international level to exercise sound biblical discernment (1 John 4:1) without giving way to unionist anxieties contrary to Scripture, but rather renewing the commitment to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world.