Eduardo Echeverria | Evangelicals and Catholics Together
11:16AM Apr 30, 2021
Today we're really, really extremely glad to have with us Dr. Eduardo Escher, Maria, who's going to be presenting on the history of the evangelicals and Catholics together movement, what he hopes can be accomplished in the coming year. From this movement, we're all yours, Dr. Aisha Okay.
All right. So let me begin with to a passage from First Corinthians one verse 10. And also another another passage from the, the Dutch theologian, Master of dogmatic and ecumenical theology, Burke power. So from the New Testament, I appeal to you brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment, less the cross of Christ, the emptied of its power. And then this quote from Burke Howard, which comes from his first Vatican two book, The Second Vatican Council, and the Novell teleology. He wrote, the very mystery of the church invites, rather compels us to ask about the perspective ahead. For the difficult way of estrangement and reproach amount of dialogue, contact controversy, and for the ecumenical striving to overcome the divisions of the church. Our thoughts about the future of the Church must come out of tensions in the present. tensions that most creatively produce watchfulness, prayer, faith and commitment, love for truth and unity, love for unity and truth. This was written by Bert cow, he was a in 1964. So I mean, I want to do three things. I want to say something about evangelicals and Catholics together. its inception and its its purpose. And the way it's produced over almost 25 years now. Those of you that are interested, some of you I know, well, because we're members of evangelicals and Catholics go to like, Dale Coulter. But the on the 20th anniversary of evangelicals and Catholics together, a volume a collection was published. It's called even jokes and Catholics together at 20 vital statements on contested topics. It was edited by Timothy George and who's a Baptist and father, Thomas Corina Catholic, Monsignor corino. Actually, I'll come back to that in a moment. But the the American ecumenical initiative, evangelicals and Catholics together began with Chuck Colson and Richard john Newhouse Father, Father Newhouse, who was initially a Lutheran and and then when he decided that the Lutheran tradition was becoming just another version of liberal Protestantism, he left and then came into full communion with the Catholic Church was eventually ordained to Catholic priests by the then Cardinals of New York, Cardinal O'Connor. And they were the aim the aim of evangelicals and Catholics together as they understood it as Tolson. And Newhouse understood it was to advance unity and fellowship among Christians by establishing a serious theological dialogue between these two communities, evangelicals and Catholics, the word evangelical is a very, very elastic word because it evangelicals and Catholics together as it presently exists, and let me let me correct you I've only been a member of you and jokes and Catholics together probably for the last five or six years. I mean, I'm old enough to be a member from the beginning, but I'm not I wasn't a member from the beginning. I came on board when we worked on the documents on marriage to enflame union, reclaiming marriage, but there were there were two two basic motives for that, that For starting evangelicals and Catholics go there. One was the increasing secularism of the culture. Even the the secularists interpretation of the First Amendment of the Constitution, which which was privatizing, privatizing religion and Christianity in particular, and and that privatization of course, often presupposes a certain
a certain view of religion a certain epistemology, you might say, where religion was a private matter had nothing to do with reason with truth. And so it was, it was not something that was was seen by the culture by secularists as something that could actually participate in understanding and addressing the great issues of the day. And new house and and Colson were persuaded that evangelicals and Catholics needed to be fully engaged in the complex social, cultural, and political questions that the nation face eliminating them with the gospel truth. But of course, they also were committed to, to the understanding that a theological Foundation was needed for this. And so they right from the beginning, you know, they anything, anything in this book as well, right from the beginning, the first statement, evangelicals and Catholics together the Christian mission in the third millennium, which was, which was published in 1994. The, the The other thing, the other thing that motivated them was, that in the founding of aect, had to do with the conflicts among evangelicals and Catholics in South America. And so they were, they wanted to create a committed and comprehensive collaboration between evangelicals and Catholics together so that that would get have an impact even even as far away with respect to the brethren in in, in South America. And as the theological introduction to this book that I mentioned, it was with these goals in mind to work together for Christian unity, and to live together with a deep sense of Christian fraternity that Colson and Newhouse founded evangelicals and Catholics together in 1994. I will come back to that in a moment because I also want to say something about the opposition to evangelicals and Catholics together and whether or not they were really together as as rc spro, once. Not too long ago, the late RCS pro wrote a little book, evangelicals and Catholics together, are they really together. So I'll come back to that. But as far as the what what has been accomplished in the last 25 years, as I said, the initial the initial document was to provide a theological justification for the unity. And then another in 97, there was a document on justification and then one on scripture and of course, the relationship between scripture and tradition, another one on the communion of saints, in 2003, and then another one on on sacred sanctification and the call to holiness. In 2005, every two years we meet and the document has always been published in first things, there was also that they may have life, so that was the document on, on a culture of life and so on. And then Mary's place in the plan of salvation in the communion of saints. Do whatever he tells you the Blessed Virgin Mary and Christian faith and life that was in 2009. And then in 2012, in defense of religious freedom. And then, in 2015, the two shall become one flesh, reclaiming marriage, each of these documents that are in this book, have introductions. For instance, the one on Mary has the introduction by Dale Coulter who is on who's here with us, and so on. And since then, there have been there have been a couple of other documents, one on on basically on Christianity as a way of life what is the Christian faith and then we're working on one now it's been slightly interrupted because of the Coronavirus so we normally meet twice a year we didn't meet this year. We're scheduled to meet in December and it's it's about the role of the state. So it always there's there's a kind of desert cultural topic that's addressed. And then a theological topic that's addressed. Now, I want to say something about in the second place, about my, my theological justification for being a member of evangelicals and Catholics together.
And this might differ, that there are 20 members of evangelicals and Catholics together and as I said, you know, 10 of them are divided between Baptists on the Protestant side Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, like Peter life hard, for instance, is a member of evangelicals and Catholics together, and even reformed, Laura Smith from Calvin now University is a member and Dale Coulter and, and others, that I myself, I'm a committed Catholic philosophical theologian with roots in the evangelical and reformed traditions, and a member, as I said, basically no more than six years. But my commitment to ecumenical dialogue with those traditions is evident from many of my writings. As a Catholic scholar, I do philosophical theology within the normative tradition of confessional Catholicism, and thirst in the light of Catholic teaching yet, all my works, all my writings manifests in ecumenical spirit. They're all works in what, what I call or what has been called receptive ecumenism. And hence, I'm listening attentively to the writings of fellow Christian theologians from other traditions of reflection and argument. Let me say something about receptive ecumenism because I think it's crucial to understanding the Catholic in my judgment, the Catholic participation in evangelicals, and Catholics together, the practice of receptive ecumenism means and here I quote john paul the second from his 1995 and cyclical boom since his encyclical on humanism. 30 years after the creative humanism of the Second Vatican Council, only Townsend's read integral to the restoration of, of unity. He says there, that dialogue is not simply an exchange of ideas. In some way, it is always an exchange of gifts. Dialogue does not extend exclusively to matters of doctrine, but engages the whole person it is also a dialogue of love. More exactly this practice of receptive ecumenism presupposes the distinction between propositional truths of faith and their formulations, in reflecting on the sense in which a doctrine already confirmed and defined is more fully known and deeply understood by another Christian tradition. So john 23rd, in his opening address at Vatican two, he distinguished he made that distinction between the propositional truths of faith and their formulations, he wrote, for the deposit of faith, the truth contained in our venerable doctrine or one thing, the fashion in which they are expressed. And here's the crucial parenthetical clause, but with the same meaning, and the same judgment is another thing, even senzu, even even Quezon tencha. The subordinate clause here has a history. I won't bore you with the history of the term but it just to say that, in its Latin original, it's part of a larger passage from the first Vatican Council's dogmatic constitution on faith and reason, de feelies. Remember that first had in Council 1869 70. And the formula with the same meaning according to same meaning and the same judgment is taken from the Camana torian of St. Vincent of lourens, who lived in the fifth century, he was a Gaelic monk, and the chief theologian of the abbey of llorens. And he wrote, so this is this is cited by Vatican one. Vatican one cites Vincent, Lorenz. And Vincent, he wrote, he's he's addressing the question whether there is a distinction to be is there is there no progress in religion says Vincent? And he says, Yes, there is he distinguishes progress from change, changes when one doctrine when one teaching becomes something else, whereas progress is something that is organic development. And so he says, Let there be growth and abundant progress in understanding knowledge and wisdom in each and all individuals and in the whole church, he wrote at all times and in the progress of ages. But only within this is again the crucial point only within the proper limits that is within the same dogma, the same meaning the same judgment. Now in this Vincente in light of Vatican two's decree on ecumenism, when he talks as read into grochow
in paragraph 17, a crucial paragraph into the chronic humanism provides a justification for legitimate differences in the elaboration of revealed truth, legitimate differences in the elaboration of revealed truth, and hence for receptive ecumenism. Paragraph seven seeing after having made that distinction between the propositional truths of faith and their elaboration, their formulation, their expression, It then goes on to say it is hardly surprising, then, if from time to time, one tradition, one Christian tradition has come nearer to a full appreciation of some aspects of revealed mystery, a mystery of revelation that the other than the other or has expressed it to better advantage. In other words, in my own in my own background, you know, I give us an example, you know, Abraham capers, three volume work on the Lordship of Christ. Now, it's not that the church doesn't affirm the Lordship of Christ, there's a solemnity of Christ's lordship, and so on and so on. But it seemed to me that Kiper had have had a more a fuller appreciation of the Lordship of Christ. So of that aspect of the revealed mystery, and he had expressed it to fuller advantage, and, and the decree and humanism says, then in such cases, these various theological expressions are to be considered often as mutually complimentary, rather than conflicting thirst, they promote the right ordering of Christian life, and indeed paved the way to a full vision of Christian truth. So my engagement, my ecumenical engagement is, it's not only that, so the decline of humanism says there, that you can have alternative formulations of the same truth have the same truth, alternative formulations within the boundaries of the same dogma, the same meaning according to the same meaning the same judgment, but those alternative formulation? Let us say from from, you know, my brethren, whether they're Methodists, Baptists, Lutheran, reformed, in my case, since I'm heavily rooted in the reformed tradition, that's where I studied at the Free University of Amsterdam and so on. I think that has contributed to a deeper understanding of those truths. And so when john paul says that a humanism is an exchange of gifts in the service of truth, to me, the that gift is at the level of formulation. So Kuyper, you can, you know, you can name others but Kuyper to make his theology of the Lordship of Christ, for instance, is a gift is a gift such that it's brought about a deeper understanding of the Christian faith of the Catholic faith, of that solemnity of that mystery of revelation that we share regarding the Lordship of Christ. So when I'm in evangelicals and Catholics together, I want to listen attentively to what my my Protestant Brethren, whether they're Baptist, Lutheran, reformed, whatever, are saying, because I think if it's, again, if it's it can deepen my understanding of that aspect of the reveal mystery. And also, we can find convergence at the level of formulation, at the level of the level of at the level of the truth, but then at the level of the formulation itself. The third thing I want to say, is, I want to say something about why was there so much opposition to evangelicals and Catholics together.
Now, I think if you go back to, if I, if I mentioned, Burke, our one may say that Burke, ours, he accepted the ecumenical imperative. He was at Vatican two, not as a delegated observer because the the, the, the church that he belonged to, which was the church that kind of founded for me the character, which literally means the reform of the Reformed Church. no longer exists, but that church didn't have ecumenical relations with with the Catholic Church. So but Burke our was a respected field. loging Johann is Villa Brandt who was the secretary for what was then called the secretary for the promotion of Christian unity, which eventually became the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian unity. But it was established by john the 2013 was headed up by Cardinal B, who was a German Cardinal Old Testament scholar. And Johan is Villa bronze was the secretary. He knew Burke our because Burke our had continuous engagement at Catholics birkhauser, his inaugural address at the Free University in 1940. It was on Barton ism and Catholicism. So he was always engaged in conversation with the Barton tradition, Bard himself wrote, what I think is a fabulous book on the triumph of grace in the theology of Karl Barth, but was also engaged with Catholicism, yohannes miligrams, who eventually became Cardinal, the primate of the Netherlands, he, he, he thought birkhauser was a nice guy. So he was a friend instead of a friendly dude. He was also ecumenically minded. And he was a great theologian, you know, birkhauser produced 18, volume studies and dogmatics. And, and by the time he died, he was born in 1903. He died in 1996, he had produced five volumes discussing engaging Catholicism. So one may say that berkow his acceptance of the ecumenical imperatives, that they all may be one, so that the world may believe, in john 1721, express itself from 1957 onwards. And here I want to distinguish between, there's a study that was an article towards a common understanding of the church, and in deepening it was volume and titled deepening communion international ecumenical documents with Roman Catholic participation. And the one dark one, one article there describes three, three attitudes, three stances that the reformed tradition, and I would add, the evangelical tradition has had toward Catholicism, and one of them, two of them are negative, and two of them are negative. Some because they remain to be convinced that the modern developments of Roman consult Roman Catholic Church has really addressed the issues of the reformation, and others. Secondly, others because they have been largely untouched by the ecumenical exchanges of recent times and have different not been challenged, or encouraged to reconsider their traditional stance. The third one is the one that I think I think shapes the mentality of evangelicals and Catholics together, as well as the, you know, the the journal pro ecclesia, which is a journal of Catholic and evangelical theology published by the Center for Catholic and evangelical theology. And that third one said that the third attitude was of, of evangelicals, and reformed in particular, to engage it says in a fresh, constructive, and critical evaluation, both of the contemporary teaching and practice of the Roman Catholic Church, and of the classical controverted issues. Now, I don't think enough of that goes on evangelicals and Catholics together. But I think that's where that's where it at least you can locate, I would say evangelicals and Catholics together. Now, just briefly here, I think you can find an example. And this, I'm going to say, Michael Horton, and I'm going to be just briefly referring to a document that was written in 2000. In 2006, yes, no, sorry, in 1995. I'm sorry. I'm not sure if Michael Horton is there. Now, he may have moved on from that stance. But in 1995, again, in opposition to evangelicals and Catholics together, you know, many people lost their mind. Why did James Packard sign and, and so on and so on.
But a resolution for Roman Catholic evangelical dialogue, he wrote, I think it's important to talk briefly about this because this was at the inception of evangelicals and Catholics together and perhaps there are still people who think that even joke to the Catholics are not together. What we find represented with the latter is an exclusively antithetical attitude toward Roman Catholicism. Horton, not just Horton, but Albert Mohler and the late rc spro. And the late what's his name from Florida, the Presbyterian who died some years ago, I forget his name, he seems for either the second or the third reason above or both not to have passed from antagonism and calm like to quote, incentive john paul the second to a desire for reconciliation for unity in truth as ecumenical partners in the search for cook for communion. Why is this so? Briefly I suggested an answer can be found in the statement of resolutions just mentioned drawn up by Horton and revised by the late rc spro. In response to the 1994 ecumenical alliance of evangelicals and Catholics together. In resolution four of that document, we find the statement, quote, The creedal consensus that binds orthodox evangelicals and Roman Catholics together warrants the making of common cause on moral and cultural issues in society, but not not it says, cooperation among Christians, as common ecclesial action in fulfilling a common ecclesial mission. You know, spro says, you know, that, that there is no common ecclesial action between Catholics and evangelicals, Catholics and evangelicals may engage in cultural co belligerents. Allah says using that phrase from Francis Schaffer, but Horton denies as do others like Albert Mohler and RCS, bro, that any such Alliance any such alliances express an ecumenical partnerships, a common ecclesial action, fulfilling a common ecclesial ecclesial mission among brothers and sisters in Christ. In short, Horton's denial and that is the other signatories to the statement of resolutions can only mean that evangelicals and Roman Catholics are not in fellowship with each other, even in perfectly by the grace of Christ and through the power of the Spirit. This statement does not mean to deny that individual Catholics may be real Christians, but it does mean that they cannot be real Christians. If the theological explanation they give for their doctrinal assertions, regarding salvation, the atonement, sacramental theology, divine election and the light derive from the ecclesiastical madgetech magisterium of the Catholic Church. In other words, they cannot be real Christians, for Catholic reasons, because the Catholic Church is not they say an acceptable Christian communion. Here's what Horton says. And this is a proposition or resolution six, we affirm he says that individual Roman Catholics who for whatever reason, do not self consciously assent to the precise definitions of the Roman Catholic magisterium regarding justification, the divine monetarism of the new birth and similar matters of evangelical conviction, but who think and speak evangelical about these things are indeed our brothers and sisters in Christ. Despite Rome's official position, we perceived that the Roman Catholic Church contains many genuine believers are many believers, I put in brackets genuine. we deny, however, that in its present confession, it is an acceptable Christian communion, let alone being the mother of all the faithful to whom every believer needs to be related. Nope. This resolution rejects not merely the uniquely Catholic claim that the Catholic Church is the one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, the household of God. Rather, it also rejects the lesser claim that the Catholic Church is a true visible expression of Christ's body and hence an acceptable Christian communion. Furthermore, it rejects the claim that someone can be a genuine believer if he holds his Christian beliefs to be true in virtue of the official teaching of the Catholic Church. Of course, it follows from this resolution that Roman Catholics cannot be fellow believers by virtue of sharing the love of Jesus Christ of accepting Him as Lord and Savior of affirming nicea counseled on affirming the faith of the ecumenical creeds and a familiar bond in in baptism, and God's word.
I'm going to stop here, I could go on and discuss an important distinction here between essential Protestantism and an accident. So essential Protestantism, and accidental Protestantism. Just breathe the essential Protestant needs Catholicism as the other to define itself, whereas the accidental Protestant doesn't doesn't mean it's going to become a Catholic tomorrow. He may have some very fundamental objections to Catholicism, but I think someone like birkhauser and others I dare think I do say even you know, do Coulter and others, you know, they they they manifest that third attitude towards consumers. Tourism, to engage in a fresh, constructive and critical evaluation, both of the contemporary teaching and practice of the Roman Catholic Church and of the classical controvert issues. I think that's where Burke Hauer was. And in his writings, I think even jokes and Catholics together is there, as well as pro ecclesia, and the the Center for Catholic and evangelical theology. So I leave it there. Thank you.
very grateful for that opening statement. Let's open up the floor.
Dr. Ed, talking about your third attitude of evangelicals towards Catholic with the emphasis on constructive and critical engagement. You made an interesting comment? Why don't you think that there's enough of this constructive and critical engagement currently happening with aect, together with evangelicals and Catholics together?
I mean, I think, you know, as I say, I think we do that, but I think there should be more of that. So that we can indeed, you know, engage, as I said, in a critical evaluation, both of the contemporary teaching practices Roman Catholic Church, and of the classical conversion issue, some of those issues, some of those things were done, I think, at the beginning, you know, when we were discussing justification, Mary's place in the plan of salvation, even the Unity discussions that I wasn't a part of, we did that. I think we did a, you know, we, even the, you know, the matter of sanctification, the call to holiness. I mean, I think those things did involve, did involve us in in that critical, constructive reevaluation even even in the document on marriage. That was also, I think, an important document. But my point is, I think my point is that, that it's that third attitude that that that article describes, is some it seems to me as a prerequisite for actually considering yourself able to engage in ecumenical conversation, I don't think or not you, but if one doesn't think that modern developments, Roman Catholic Church, whatever they may be, has really addressed the issues of the Reformation. And others because they have been largely untouched by the ecumenical exchange of reason times and have definitely not been challenged or encouraged to reconsider their traditional stance. Well, then, it seems to me that if you reflect if one reflects either of those positions, you know, it's going to be harder for you to get involved in evangelicals and Catholics together. But But again, going back to the resolutions that Michael Horton, you know, I doubt whether Michael Horton, is there any longer in those with that he wrote, you know, some, some 20 years ago. But if you if you if you still think that you know, I mean, if I accepted, which I don't, but if you're if one accepts resolution six, well, then john paul, the second benefit to 16, they can't really be Christians. They can't really be Christians. No one can be read, you can't really be in fellowship in union with other Christians with other Protestant Christians. If in fact, the justification for your theological commitments, is grounded in the teachings of the Catholic Church. So So this, this is where the distinction there receptive humanists that distinguishes between the propositional truths of faith and their formulations is important. berkhout understood that, that that that distinction had ecumenical significance, because you were able to engage. You were able to engage each other in conversation, and not only be open to the fact that someone could say the same thing in a different way. But also that saying it differently could actually deepen your understanding of the faith. As I said, My I, you know, my example of Skype, it's three volume, you know, the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Now, because we don't share the Lordship of Jesus Christ, I said, we have a solemnity there's an encyclical when the celebrity was established and so on. But I think a caper gave us gives us a fuller appreciation, a more systematic elaboration of that of that teaching of that mystery of divine revelation that is compatible and doesn't it doesn't conflict with Catholic teaching. So I say, I'm right on, you know, I just I think I sent it to you. I wrote an article recently on Richard Mao's book on common grace, where he raises the question whether you have to be a Calvinist in order to be okay period. And now I argue No, you can be okay period and be a Catholic. You know, I'm a Hyperion Catholic. So,
So yeah, thank you for your presentation. I was remiss in saying your presentation was very fine.
Thank you very clear. Welcome. You're welcome.
It just intrigued me that you said, so if you had your druthers, what could you give us two or three topics that you would like to see next on the agenda for aect?
Well, as I said, I think, you know, even Dale could speak to this more, cuz I think he's been longer in evangelicals and Catholics together than me. But we always we do a theological topic and then a cultural topic. Let me let me just say in general, and not limit myself to even dragooned Catholic so that when I go to speak, I went to speak a couple of years ago at covenant Theological Seminary. And I started off the conversation my lecture by saying, I am not when I'm not, this is not cool. belligerency. I said, I'm here to speak to you as a brother in Christ. The other thing it seems to me is that I often say I've said this a lot of times different places, I feel like I'm doing all the heavy lifting. In other words, I feel like I'm reading there isn't reciprocity, often, you know, I feel like I'm doing. I'm reading Protestants, whether reformed or mainly within the reformed tradition. But I don't sense that reciprocity. So I can be, you know, you can be sitting next to someone and you and they ask you a question and you and you wonder whether they've ever read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, just at a kind of like a basic level. So I think the conversation can only be genuinely an example of receptive ecumenism. If we're in fact, learning in that sense from each other, in the in the way that I've described it in the way that the the receptive acuity test understands it.
Thank you very much, Dr. Chavarria. I think we were in touch. Some years ago, when I was teaching at Leeds Trinity University, which is a University of Catholic foundation in the UK. I'm now back at my alma mater at fuller Theological Seminary. And I'm trying to put together a lot of experiences over the last few years. And just to see the relationship between Catholics and evangelicals in the US context, which is fascinating to me. So I really appreciated your, your presentation, I wanted to ask you a little bit more. Towards the end, you mentioned that what john Baker has described as the sibling rivalry between Protestants and Catholics and how we need the other two are evangelicals and Catholics how we need the other to define ourselves. You mentioned that in the context of Latin America, where I come from, of course, Northern Ireland, is another case. And recently writing a history of Korean Christianity, it was fascinating to see how Catholics and Protestants had entered as as really very different entities, not even recognizing each other as Christians. So since I'm a professor of world Christianity, I would be interested from for your perspective, from a more global point of view as to how we can overcome. It seems to me that in Europe and North America, many of the debates have been overcome, or at least addressed in some ways, but in many, we've foisted them upon many parts of the world. And they're they're still problematic.
yeah, thanks for your question. I mean, I don't know I mean, I would say if we're going to have conversations with among, you know, Orthodox Christians, we need to go back to you know, the the normative foundations of the Christian faith. The Scriptures, of course, as a witch, have primary authority and creeds and confessions. If you're talking to let's say, if you're in Korea, You're talking to reformed Christians. I mean, the Koreans have translated bow, translated caper and, and so on and so on. It just seems to me then you have to be confirmed conversant with the three forms of unity the belgic confession of faith, the canons of dort, the Heidelberg catechism, if you're talking to Lutherans, you have to be familiar with, you know, the Augsburg confession luthers shorter, longer Catechism of the book of Concord yet, it seems to me work as Christians. I think we're creedal. You know, our faith is is rooted in in the Creed's. And so obviously, the Creed's derived their justification from the from the authority of the Bible. So but we have to find, depending on who you're talking to, you have to find a starting point, it seems to me in the you know, the Kriegel the confessions of those traditions, to begin to begin a conversation and then to show in fact, of course, that, that that's what the whole point of that first document of evangelicals and Catholics together was about, you know, the, basically the statement of unity, evangelicals and Catholics together the Christian mission in the third millennium. So that's, you know, that's what I would say, if you're gonna have you have to begin. Yeah, it seems to me, you have to begin with the normative. The normative expressions of the Christian faith to, to find a point of contact, conscious begin with experience or experience, it seems to me is not a source of faith. It's, it's, it should be subject to the authority of the Bible and the authority of tradition, by which I mean, you know, creeds, confessions, the liturgy, all of those things.
And you mentioned that the original aect was based on a theological foundation for the unity of mission. So looking at Horton's point for where he talks about, he talks about ecclesial action versus ecclesial mission. Do you mean the same thing there that he does? Are we talking about the three or four pages of social action that eect mentions? Or are we talking about the great commission that the aect also mentions? He the basis for unity on that? What What is that mission? Oh,
they're the basis for unity. Let me just say that, that statement by Horton and mood and all that, it's, it's, it's, it's relegated to purely cultural unity, you know, so we can be united on pro life matters. You know, you know, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith came out a couple of days ago, on what I think is a is a brilliant statement on euthanasia, and physician assisted suicide and, and laid out the theological and moral foundations of why those practices should be rejected. So you know, I mean, and culturally, I think they would have said, and some would say, we can we culturally co belligerents on that. But, but, but that's not that doesn't reflect an ecumenical partnership, a common ecclesial action, fulfilling a common ecclesial mission, to proclaim the gospel, because, as, as Paul says, in that, that last book of his is, there is no, let me He says, I'm happy, I quote him, I'm happy to make a common cause with Roman Catholicism on social issues. But we have no common cause in the Gospel. He said, When our involvement in social issues brings us into contact and camaraderie with Roman Catholics, we need not grow back. But we must not assume that we are brothers and sisters with the gospel. So you can understand why he and others would be against ECD. But I think so the unity, of course, is found at the level of if you're talking in terms of doctrinal unity, at the level of Nicea, the Nicene Creed, counseled on and so on. And enhance at the level of sharing in and sharing in the life of Christ being, you know, being justified by God's grace and sharing in the benefits of his saving, working, etc, etc. All of those things I think they argued for that's why the next topic that was addressed by eect was the question of justification because they knew that that was that was that was a crucial topic that prevented people like didn't prevent it didn't prevent j i Packer didn't prevent j i Packer, not because he ever. I remember many times. It's not because I'm becoming a Catholic, he said But because I think that we are real, we are really together, really together. And so the the issue of justification, that was the second, the second document, and then the other the Scripture and tradition, and all that.
Thanks. I was really honored to be invited today to join the group. And I suspect part of the reason that I was invited was because I spent a number of years serving as the research assistant both to Avery Cardinal Dulles at Fordham and then to Paul Maria Durham. And so where they're coming from sort of different ends of the ecumenical spectrum in many ways, but I think their views of humanism, whether explicitly receptive or not, I think both of them see the movement and building on what you just said, See the movement as more than simply co belligerents towards,
Oh, of course. Absolutely.
And so like I especially for Paul Murray, he uses this image of showing one another, our wounded hands, which I think is particularly powerful. So I wonder if you could see it say a bit as someone that's new relate to the organization, I've read about it, but never participated in their conversations, something we're about this sort of spiritual or mystical core that lies at the heart of humanism. beyond simply this, this shared co belligerents like to use your phrase. Thanks.
Right. So of course, receptive ecumenism is it goes beyond co belligerency. co belligerency. Doesn't assume that we as I just said from that we're brothers and sisters in Christ, okay. So the decree and humanism jumped over seconds to Lucent assumes that the I tell my students when I even when I teach Catholic apologetics I say to them, Look, our primary stance towards non Catholics is not a confrontational one. It's not a it's it's we're brothers and sisters in Christ, you see. So our primary stance is one of recognizing each other as brethren. That doesn't mean that there that there there isn't that there aren't significant differences and and that we can even engage in ecumenical apologetics you know, Matthew levering Rhoda, what I thought was a very fine book on and it engaged in receptive ecumenism, but at a certain level is also engaged in ecumenical apologetics because he was defending Mary's assumption, ecumenical exchange begins. In the Catholic tradition with a spiritual ecumenism, even an examination of conscience, it says, because the, the, the, you know, the divisions in the church, not immediately identical with, you know, theological diversity divisions in the church are under the judgment of Christ. birkhauser says that the decree the Korean acumen and wisdom says that, you know, I say to my students, you know, it's not just those damn Protestants, it's also those damn Catholics, you know, that contributed to the breakdown, not listening to each other. And so a humanism involves spiritual humanism, involves not just, you know, an exchange of ideas, it doesn't even involve an exchange of, you know, of gifts at the level of formulation, and, you know, theology and all that it also involves, that the person that you're having a conversation with, has is a person has a certain background, flesh and blood, you know, so you can move on from an, you know, an ecumenical encounter to ecumenical friendship, that shouldn't that doesn't breed a kind of indifferent ism to your respective, you know, cause not just differences. I mean, they're incompatible claims receptive ecumenism presupposes that you can say the same thing differently. But at some point, it's not just that we're saying the same thing differently. It's that we're saying different things, you see. And so there are mutually incompatible claims. There's no you know, regarding, you know, the petrine ministry or even other matters, you know, the, the even even you know, in sacrament ology, although in my view, I argue that, you know, Kuyper says at one point, you know, that reformed Lutherans and Anglicans stand with Catholics over against doing these zwingli ends, because they all think that the sacraments are means of grace and even efficacious, efficacious means of grace. And so you can find you can find all kinds of coins convergence beneath the formulations so that we might, we might, in that sense, practice receptive ecumenism. You know, I have my students when I teach theological method and we're writing essays and ecumenical theology, and they're writing on, on the Eucharist or the Lord's Supper, you know, I have them read Calvin's Institute's book for where he discusses, you know, he lays out his sacrament, ology, especially with respect to the Eucharist. They read also, you know, birkhauser, his volume on the sacraments in chapters 10 and 11, a version of sacramental realism. He rejects the opposition between,
you know, between the idea that some other sacraments don't signify that they're just empty and outward signs, and he's trying to defend Real Presence. He makes clear, he rejects substantial presence. But there's a whole beginning a conversation there, it seems to me. Because there there there there are genuine, there are genuinely genuine theological differences that are so there's an incompatibility but the incompatibilities doesn't go all the way down. Because we stand in, we stand in the cradle tradition of we all affirm nicea. If you're an Orthodox Christian, you affirm nicea, the witness he asserts, kalsa, Don, what counsels on asserts about the natures in persons of Christ and, and so on, and so on. You know, Luther says in his shorter catechism, who should be saved, all those who wish to be saved, he says, Those Catholic impulses, I think, are probably no longer present in contemporary Lutheranism. But and even in the Presbyterian tradition, I've had conversations with people about, you know what baptism is how Baptist is described in the Westminster confession of faith. So, but I think there has to be this kind of interaction where we're, where there's reciprocity, because we understand each other's tradition of the formulations and we can accept those formulations as gifts, so long as they're complimentary.
Thank you, Dr. veterinaria. First, I want to express my appreciation for the motives and founding aect of the secularization problems in South America, and also my strong affirmation for your appreciation for receptive ecumenism, and as a reformed Christian. Your appreciation for Kuyper and Baroque color also warms my heart that question has to do with the relationship between ECG and the broader Ecumenical Movement. And let me illustrate this. The problem we face is that the formal historic Ecumenical Movement is largely comprised of historic Protestant and Orthodox churches. And with that, in us, the the historic black churches, the Catholic community, the evangelical and Pentecostal community has largely been outside of that. Now, we formed Christian churches together in the US, for the first time bringing together the US Catholic Conference with a mainline Protestant and evangelical and Orthodox and that yielded in reformed Catholic dialogue. We had we had seven years in which we came to a common recognition of baptism. We're actually one of the few places in the world where that exists. And that's real ecclesial progress. at the global level, where you had the world console, largely with orthodox and historic Protestant on the one hand, and then evangelical, Pentecostal and Catholic sitting apart when you bring Catholic and evangelical together, the problem is that you're doing a wonderful thing. But this comes sort of in opposition to the broader Ecumenical Movement. So we formed the global Christian forum, with the full participation of the U of the Pontifical Council, the world of geological fellowship, the Pentecostal world fellowship and the World Council of Churches in order to try to bring that fullness of ecumenical life together. So, since I knew both Chuck Colson and Richard Newhouse at the beginning of my concern has always been how this initiative, while really important, is one that is often seen as as over against broader ecumenical initiatives. And so you even mentioned justification. We had 25 years of dialogue between Lutheran and Catholic, resulting in a real breakthrough around the declaration of the doctrine of justification and So it's it mean that that's my first question. And the second one briefly follows what Kirsten Kim asked. You prep, you placed emphasis on doctrine. But what about practices? What about spiritual formation? pilgrimage areas where we come together at a different level? What about cooperation around something like law, Dante see around major Catholic initiatives to which others can participate? Do you restrict your work just to doctrine? So that's my two questions to the broader movement, and then restriction to doctrine.
Let me say something about the second question. I don't think I don't think it's it's restricted to doctrine insofar as we discuss. I mean, all of these things have practical implications in particularly in in an American context, that the question of religious liberty, you know, pro life matters, whether at the beginning or the end of life, all of those things have have practical implications, you know, discussions about marriage? I mean, yes, there's a theological foundation to that, but it's also has a broader cultural impact, what do you think marriages are, and so on. So I think all of these matters, sometimes are explicitly cultural. But many times they're theological. And they and they have definitely a broader cultural impact how we engage the culture, even, even with respect to the question of holiness, the call to holiness, sanctification. You know, that's a, that's, again, that has, of course, doctrinal foundations, but it's, but it has everything to do with, you know, making choices in your life that are worthy of the calling that you've received in Christ. And, and all of that. So the other thing, and as I said, I mean, Dale Coulter has been involved with EGT longer than I have. But but there's we're not. We're not. We're not formally, we don't formally represent either the catholic church or any other any other, you know, Christian church. I don't know do we do what do you think about that?
Well, my take, since I've been a member, somewhere around 2007. eect, has never seen itself connected the formal Ecumenical Movement, and I have heard plenty of people through the years that have come and gone and expressed sentiments to the effect of that movement by largest dead, that it's not going anywhere. So I don't think it sees itself. It thinks, I think, from what I understand, based on my private conversations, is that ectc sees itself as just sort of stepping in and moving forward outside of formal humanism, and doesn't really think formula of humanism is going to is going to do anything at the end of the day. Part of that is the reception of the joint declaration is not been universal. Conservative Catholics have certainly not, not embraced it, at least in the private area. I remember Peter casserole is now at Duke, who was a member when I first joined, didn't think that it that it went far enough. And we've never talked about the differentiated consensus method that was implied by the Joint Declaration. So I just don't think we we see ourselves connected to it, even though many Cheryl I have several of us have been involved in those formal dialogues on some level but but not aect.
Well, in the church, of course, is involved in in informal, bilateral ecumenical conversations with Methodists with Lutherans with reformed Anglicans. There's a very good book, just if some of you may know that, but Cardinal Kasper wrote a book probably around 10 years ago. It do, it's called the fruits of the faith. And and so it gives you an account of what was discussed all the many documents over the years between Catholics and and these different these other Christian traditions and the conclusion they came to, and what were still outstanding questions. The, you know, the reformed tradition and the Catholic tradition. Some years ago, not too long ago, they came to the conclusion after much discussion that the Heidelberg catechism and Lord's Day, Lord state adean 81, was actually mistaken about his judgment that that regarding you know, the mass The and and and the Eucharist that the mass was somehow undermining the sufficiency of Christ's atoning work and that the reason why there was a mass was to somehow repeat or do again or, you know, so you there there, there are all kinds of conversations that had been had that and and the Eucharist that the mass was somehow undermining the sufficiency of Christ's atoning work and that the reason why there was a mass was to somehow repeat or do again or there all kinds of conversations that had been had. And you can bring that to bear in in conversations, local conversations. But at the end of the day, I remember the Christian foreign senate decided, because the recommendation was to actually remove that from the Heidelberg catechism. And they decided, no, we can't rewrite this historical document, but we're going to put it in note. Of course, there were people that rejected the conclusion that, that, you know, the Catechism was mistaken about its understanding of the mass and the, the Eucharist and all of that, but some discussion came out of that some good discussion came up,
I find it hard to understand how an initiative as as generous and good as aect, in its ecumenical commitment, can find itself as Dale has said, sitting outside of those arenas of real ecumenical engagement, and not just the NCC or the WCC, but those that are more inclusive, and where some real fruit has been accomplished, like common recognition of baptism, like, like common work around mission and around advances, so that that would be my only response. I would I'd really ask that question. And I'd hope that those in the city would reflect on it, especially as the Ecumenical Movement largely is undergoing, I think, some dramatic changes.
Yeah. Eduardo, thank you for your your wonderful presentation. It's good to see you. I I'd like to switch gears a little bit. And, and and raise, maybe ask you to speculate or maybe do more than speculate, you actually, may may may be able to give us a subsidy of content. But in terms of the question I'm going to raise, I think back to the, to the early 90s, when aect first began and the coalition that arose as a consequence of sort of deeper cultural questions, right, so you had Colson and new house and you had other figures like Michael Novak involved, who kind of embraced a type of liberalism concerning the role of the state. And in some ways they were looking at the influence, I guess, the practical influence of figures like john Rawls and Ronald Dworkin, and the way in which those figures kind of pushing out of the public square Christian voices. And there was also a kind of assumption about the the goodness of free markets and sort of traditional views of religious liberty. So he had figures like like Novak, he wrote that book on two wings, where he, where he brought together quotes from the American founders and some of the the things said and dignitatis Humanae about religious liberty showing that there was a sort of this consistency between sort of the traditional view views held by American statesman and the Catholic Church. But as we know, things have changed. We've seen skepticism about free markets, especially as we've seen the rise of social media and woke capitalism. We've also seen the rise of integral ism in Christian circles, even within the purview of first things. Yeah, Eduardo, thank you for your your wonderful presentation. It's good to see you. So I'm wondering what is the future of EC T. And its prospective? prospect of I know that you mentioned there's going to be something on the state.
Next, Next, yeah. Discussing.
So I'm curious as to as given how it began and and the way in the issues that sort of animated its founders, how it How are things going to change in terms of the questions of church and state and these sort of deeper philosophical questions about, about the role of religious people, especially Christians in the public square, there was a time where you could use a kind of kind of liberal argument for it right? You could say look, you know, we were coming to the public square with our views and that is a Kind of, of sort of discrimination. Right. But then the responses will will that liberalism has failed. And so you know, too bad. So I think that they're just one. So I think that they're just wondering what where you think this is going to go, given the changing dynamics of American political culture?
Well, you know, that Novak and new house were influenced by john Murray for the Murray's book, We hold these truths and reflections on the American proposition. Murray was, was a pivotal figure at Vatican two dealing with, you know, the Declaration on religious liberty. I mean, I think that document is still, it's, it's certainly still normative in the church. And I don't see, I think its arguments for religious liberty and for engaging in conversation. And so Newhouse's book, also famous book, you know, naked public square, religion and democracy in America. I think those arguments still make sense. But we have to rehabilitate reason, and the legitimacy of arguments, and not just merely, I remember, in your book, the one that you wrote, that won many awards, you know, even the AAR gave you an award for your book, I'm sure you were surprised that the A,
I was I actually thought that was evidence of a miracle. I was shocked.
But you see, you have to get in there and not just defend the idea that you, you have to carve out a space for, you know, public policy that's grounded in religious and moral commitments, but also to defend the rationality of those public policies that are grounded, not just merely saying that it's just, you know, viewpoint discrimination, and all that. So I think in a way, that's not actually been tried out, it seems to me. Now, of course, on the other side, of course, we now live in a culture where it's all named calling ad hominem there's no, I mean, I use that to escape from reason we, the culture has escaped from reason. And so there's no public. No, there's no sense of public reason and laying out arguments, which is what you're trying to do, which is what you've done when you're discussing abortion, of so called abortion rights, and so on. So there has to be there has to be a place where we're able to say that this is what rational argument in the public square is like. And of course, it presupposes an understanding of religious liberty, where throated understanding of religious liberty where you have the freedom to lay out your views, and there's going to be there's a forum there, so that there can be the possibility of conversation and discussion. But I think we live in a culture that's against reason, against arguments, all those things are just instruments of power. And people have just swallowed kind of Foucault kins. Foucault t anism. Whole, and so everything is just at the service of power. You know, you know, you're not making truth claims, or, you know, there's this deep anti realism and, but just an anti an attitude against reason. I mean, and a restriction of privatization of freedom. Seems to me that that's precisely what Novak can, in the new house. Naked public square religion and democracy in America was about trying to argue that there's a place for having a forum for having arguments, discussions and so on, we can't The only power that many politicians think they have is to impeach let's let's just impeach the president, as opposed to having a conversation. So that's just a general kind of thoughts that come to me that I think we're all committed and aect to having those conversations because we, we haven't escaped from reason or from the, you know, the truth attaining capacities of the human mind and, and so on.
Do you also believe that that a lot of things can happen from local grassroots through practice that really creates a lot of unity and might even shape thinking all over the place?
You know, for the new house, one spoke of ecumenism in the trenches, which had to do with pro life Christians, Protestants and Catholics, Protestants of various stripes and Catholics, finding themselves on the question of, of abortion and the dignity of unborn human life and, and all of that. So there Yeah, there's no question there can be an acumen ism in the trenches. And that's, as I said, in the United States that's happened with respect to pro life matters.
It's gonna mention William Russia's book, ecumenical reception, he devoted a chapter to kind of historical ecclesial reception and a chapter to contemporary. I was wondering if you would just give your opinion on American the reception of ecclesial documents by American denomination in this tradition, it's kind of compare and contrast. For which dominations is the reception of one of these documents more difficult? And for which does it seem to be less of a challenge?
Let me tell you, just a brief some years ago, at the Center for Catholic and evangelical theology, they used to publish these books on different issues in the church, and they had one on the papacy. This was right after, in right after john paul, the second had published autonom since and he has a chapter devoted to the papacy. And so they had different speakers talking about, you know, the role of the papacy in their respective tradition, you see, so there was an Anglican and Methodist and so on. And I remember Richard now, who's reformed, getting up and saying, I don't know where to start this conversation, since we don't even have an Episcopal see in our church. You know, so, obviously, churches that don't have Episcopal, that, you know, they don't have an Episcopal see are going to are going to the ecclesiology and Catholicism. This is why, you know, the Joint Commission, Anglican, Rome, Anglican, and Roman Catholic dialogue, their their discussions have been, in the last, probably a dozen years focused on ecclesiology, on the authority of the church and all of that. So, you there's a more there's a more basic beginning there, if you don't, to discuss what's the nature of the church? And where is that church most fully manifested before you even get into questions about, you know, the structure of the church? physical structure. I mean, it's easy, in a sense, it's easier if you have true, you know, if you have congregationalist ecclesiology, that's going to be even more difficult. But most Christians are not congregationalists in their ecclesiology. They have either Presbyterians or they have sin. It's the Christian form church is a synoptical church, you know, it's not local church autonomy that doesn't, you know, the it's, it's, it's grounded more broadly. And even in terms of authority. I remember a few years that Calvin College fired, they said he retired but they fired some theologian who denied you know, the historical Adam, all that and the end and the the Synod of the reformed the Christian Reformed Church said that the individual theologians does not have the right to decide what is taught in, you know, the Creed's like the Heidelberg catechism, the gouger confession of faith that that authority is entrusted to, to the Senate of the Christian from church. So if you start there, you can have more, you can be more receptive, I would say to ecclesial documents from, you know, from the Catholic Church, but I would recommend reading, you know, Cardinal caspers, where he discusses that, that aspect ecclesiology sacrament, ology you know, justification and all of that, in his, in those discussions of bilateral discussions between Methodists and Catholics and reformed Catholics and Lutherans and so on.
I think this is not an assumption of, of the scholars here. But I think, perhaps the way in which aect was negatively received, maybe it comes from an assumption that the 16th century said everything it had to say, you have the Council of Trent, the Protestant confessions kind of late lay things down. And then something happens in the 20th century, that opens up this new horizon of dialogue and perhaps more conservative, conservative voices in different professions are skeptical of something that emerges out of nowhere in the 20th century, and I'm just wondering if it would be really fruitful. There were some really important dialogues before the Council of Trent, but also, you know, Catholic, ironic thinking in the 18th century discussed by old Rick laner. Even kind of really pretty dogmatic Thomas, who received the Synod of dort parts of it very positively, but these are the kinds kinds of things that at least I wasn't aware of. And I think when we see the long story of of dialogue and reading Catholics and Protestants reading each other, if even if disagreeing very severely, I think that that might just put some of these 20th century developments to a much richer context.
I couldn't agree with you more. That's That, to me is fundamental I, you know, I have an article coming out in that same volume that you have, that you've contributed to on the canons of dort. And what is it that how do we understand the canons of dort? How do they how does it differ in what it asserts about divine election and so on salvation, with respect to trends and acquaintances? And also, I couldn't agree with you more than you. If you think that the Reformation said it all, well, intact, the Reformation spawned, you know, the fracture of Protestantism, because they were trying to that's why you have variety of confessions, you know, you have the three forms of unity, you have the Lutherans, you have, you know, Westminster Confession and so on, trying to provide ident what makes me What makes you distinctively Presbyterian, what makes you distinctively Lutheran, what makes you distinctively reformed. Because that, that kind of that kind of pluralism as it were that sort of interpretive pluralism was, you know, fracturing the church again, as it were, and so, I agree 100% with you, we need to really as you you do a very good job of reading those documents in their context. And, and so on. Renick tone is to, because I think that the Thomas there there are points of agreement in between the canons of dort and, and Aquinas. But yeah, so that's a I think that's an important, an important thing to understand the whole historical context and what went after the Greek reformation and, and so on.
We're all very grateful to Dr. Eduardo shibori, for joining us and for sharing and engaging giving your your energy and perspectives. I've asked Dale Coulter, if he would comment, and then close us in prayer, please.
I concur that this has been a very good conversation. And I appreciate all the questions from everyone. And I do you wonder if PCT will ever return to a doctrinal issue. We're going in a cultural direction more and more. And we'll just see how that goes with Bruce and, and those of us here who are members of it. In any case, that's my final comment. Let's pray. Over thank you for this opportunity to get together as brothers and sisters in Christ to discuss matters of importance for your church. And in all of its expressions. I pray particularly for all of us present, that you would anoint our writing our speaking, that we would somehow connect with you and your words would be our words as we seek to be faithful in our witness. And as we seek to help those communions to which we belong, be faithful in their witness, and pray these things in the name of Christ our Savior, amen.