Just in case you haven’t heard of it, in the early 1990s Richard John Neuhaus (editor of First Things) and Charles Colson (who needs no intro to most of you) began a fruitful dialogue that has led to four “Evangelical and Catholics Together” official dialogues. They addressed four topics: Christian mission, salvation, “your word is truth,” and the communion of the saints. Noll and Nystrom’s book Is the Reformation Over? surveys this development.
Do you think the areas of agreement are genuinely agreed-upons?
Each has been published. The first one produced a firestorm of evangelical protest, led by such notables as Michael Horton, John McArthur, and RC Sproul. The protest did not slow the folks down: they went to work on the next topic and so down to our day.
On justification: they agreed that it was “entirely God’s gift, conferred through the Father’s sheer graciousness, out of the love… declares us to be no longer his rebellious enemies…”.
On Scripture: Evangelicals admitted to creeds, confessions and corporate interpretation, while Catholics admitted to tradition being under Scripture.
On communion of saints: God’s holiness is the basis for communion, communion occurs between believers, sacraments foster communion, and then they dealt with communion with those who have died. [I have to admit that I’ve never in my life thought that we weren’t in communion with those who have already died, but not once in my life have I ever asked anyone already dead to pray for me.]
ECT stuff is not as forensic as Reformed folk on justification. There is a unity at deep level but not a the articulable level; not their words. There is agreement on cobelligerence but not on ecclesiology.