Evangelism: Groups Battle over Catholic Outreach
March 2, 1998
Despite an expanding dialogue between Roman Catholics and evangelicals on theological issues, conservative activists on both sides are not about to wave a white flag.
At a recent Ex-Catholics for Christ (ECFC) conference at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, about three dozen demonstrators outside waved "Catholics for Christ" signs and distributed "Catholic Answers" tracts, which proclaim Roman Catholicism as Christ's one true church.
Meanwhile inside Grace Community Church, more than 500 former Catholics listened to leaders of ministries that evangelize Catholics. Condemnation of ecumenism between evangelicals and Catholics was a common theme. Speakers included Grace's pastor, John MacArthur; Word of Life's director, Joe Jordan; the Berean Call's Dave Hunt; and Good News for Catholics' Jim McCarthy.
The recent signing of "The Gift of Salvation" (CT, Dec. 8, 1997, p. 34) by Evangelicals and Catholics Together proponents holds little promise for opponents of the original ECT document. That controversial 1994 declaration, conceived by Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson and Catholic priest Richard John Neuhaus of the New York-based Religion and Public Life, laid the groundwork for Catholics and evangelicals mutually recognizing each other as "brothers and sisters in Christ." Its purpose was to provide a framework for both sides to work more cooperatively within the pro-family movement.
Neuhaus told CT that Catholics and evangelicals "can agree on the meaning of salvation," and those who target Catholics for evangelism see the ECT project as "a serious threat to their niche market."
Nevertheless, inactive or nominal Catholics should be evangelized, Kent Hill, an ECT signatory and president of Eastern Nazarene ...