Rick Shrader‘s Review:
This is a collection of articles written by Colson, Neuhaus, George Weigel, Mark A. Noll, Avery Dulles, and J.I. Packer defending their support of the ECT statement. Also, they attempt to answer the criticisms leveled by R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur and others who have declared that ECT invalidates the reformation theological position of sola fida (faith alone).
Colson begins the defense arguing for an ‘‘ecumenism of the trenches.’’ He argues that ‘‘Our culture’s sickness is far too deep for mere political remedies’’ and that the ‘‘task for all true Christians, whether Evangelicals, Catholics or members of other traditions’’ is to bring forth in ‘‘new form and forcefulness’’ a Christian worldview of contemporary life. Weigel describes the moral decline of the nation from a political perspective but very little from a theological perspective. Noll continues with a historical look at the Catholic-Protestant conflict and the mistrust it has created while seeking areas where the two groups can come together.
Dulles, from a Catholic perspective, sets forth six ‘‘Models of Union’’ Catholics and Evangelicals could use to resolve their primary differences and thus work together. He also proposes an ‘‘interim strategy’’ for use until the differences can be worked out. Neuhaus continues the Catholic position noting that while ‘‘there has been little theological criticism of ECT from (Catholics)’’, it is the Evangelicals who fear ‘‘sympathetically engaging Christians who are different.’’
The final contributor, J.I. Packer, provides a basic reprint of a paper he wrote for Christianity Today. To his credit, Packer is the only author who tackles the primary theological differences between Catholics and Evangelical Protestants. He notes that Evangelicals and Catholics can never agree on primary issues but one must accept that there are true Christians within the Catholic Church and that we can cooperate with them through parachurch associations.
ECT places its highest priority on ‘‘Christian unity.’’ As Neuhaus states, ‘‘Concern for Christian unity is not optional.’’ ECT itself confesses, ‘‘that we have sinned against one another and against God’’ for not accepting each other as true Christians. They anticipate further discussions in accomplishing their goals. We who disagree with their major premises will have to be aware of their inroads for a good while to come.
(reviewed by Don Shrader)