Protestants & Catholics: Do They Now Agree?
By John Ankerberg and John Weldon
Harvest House Publishers, 1995, 312 pages
When Chuck Colson’s ecumenical Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) project released its first declaration in 1994, it shook evangelicalism to its core. Some evangelicals greeted the document warmly while many others were appalled by its apparent compromise and betrayal of the Gospel.
Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium basically declared that Evangelicals and Catholics both believed in the core teachings of Christianity and needed to unite in an effort to confront the onslaught of secularism.
Several books followed in response to ECT including those written by James R. White, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Michael Horton, and this one by John Ankerberg and John Weldon. Remember John Ankerberg? His Christian apologetics show used to be very popular back in the 80s and 90s and it can still be found on cable and satellite TV (see website, far below).
This is a well-written response to ECT. The Catholic church has not officially changed any of its doctrines since Trent, including its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit, so how could the evangelical writers and signers of the ECT document see clear to suddenly embrace Catholics as brothers and sisters in Christ?
The authors compare many of the vague, conciliatory statements in ECT with Catholic and evangelical doctrine. Not only are there the contrary positions on justification, how a person is saved, but there are the many ancillary differences including the disagreements with Catholic teaching on authority, the papacy, transubstantiation, sacerdotalism, the mass, Mary, sacramental grace, confession, purgatory, indulgences, etc., etc.
The chasm between Catholic and evangelical belief is just too wide to bridge but the ECT writers and signers downplayed or completely dismissed doctrinal differences in their desire for ecumenical unity. But make no mistake, Rome’s understanding of unity has always meant acquiescence to the Vatican.
It’s been 23 years since the ECT controversy and ecumenism continues to make inroads into evangelicalism. At this point, many would wonder what all the fuss was about regarding ECT. A 2015 poll revealed 58% of evangelical pastors consider the pope their brother in Christ. Most Christians bloggers at WordPress probably consider a blog named “excatholic4christ” to be downright distasteful.
Steadfast evangelicals wonder where are the young pastors and para-church leaders who will take the baton from MacArthur, Sproul, D. James Kennedy (d. 2007), Ankerberg, and White in the battle to uphold the Gospel and withstand compromise with Rome? Or is the betrayal just a foregone conclusion at this point? Take heart Christian brothers and sisters who are faithful to the Gospel! The Lord is on His throne and He’s fully aware of the compromise and betrayal taking place.
“And from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” – Acts 20:30
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” – 1 Timothy 4:1-3
Below are the “evangelical” signatories and endorsers of Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium (1994):
- Charles Colson, Prison Fellowship and Southern Baptist Convention affiliated
- Dr. Kent Hill Eastern Nazarene College
- *Dr. Richard Land, Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
- *Dr. Larry Lewis, Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention
- Dr. Jesse Miranda, Assemblies of God
- Mr. Brian O’Connell, World Evangelical Fellowship
- Mr. Herbert Schlossberg, Director of the Fieldstead Foundation
- Dr. John White, Geneva College and the National Association of Evangelicals.
- J. I. Packer, British-born Canadian Christian theologian in the low church Anglican and Reformed traditions.
- Dr. William Abraham, Perkins School of Theology
- Dr. Elizabeth Achtemeier Union Theological Seminary (Virginia)
- Mr. William Bentley Ball, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
- Bill Bright, Campus Crusade for Christ
- Bishop William Frey, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry
- Os Guinness, Trinity Forum
- Richard Mouw, Fuller Theological Seminary
- Mark Noll, Wheaton College
- Dr. Thomas C. Oden, Drew University
- Pat Robertson, Regent University and the 700 Club
- Dr. John Rodgers, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry
*Both Land and Lewis eventually withdrew their endorsement of the document due to pressure from within the Southern Baptist Convention.
The John Ankerberg Show