Yesterday, I was perusing through news on the internet and came across a report of a two-hour “Conversation with Two Leading Evangelists,” featuring evangelical philosopher and apologist, William Lane Craig, and Catholic bishop, Robert Barron. The event was open to the public and was held at Roberts Pavilion Arena at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California on January 13th. I’ve included the You Tube video of the entire proceedings far below if you’re interested.
The advertised purpose of the get together was certainly NOT to debate the differences between evangelical and Catholic theology, but to discuss “How can Christians best share their faith?,” and “What should we (Christians) know about faith and science issues?,” and “How can Catholics, Protestants, and all Christians join together against the rise of secularism?”
This morning, I listened to (and watched some portions of) the entire deliberations. The viewpoint shared by both men at the very start of the conversation was that, while there are still “substantive differences” between evangelicals and Catholics, the greater priority was to unite in order to focus on the common enemy, aggressive secularism, and to “reclaim our culture.”
So the presupposition that Craig brought to the discussion was that the Roman Catholic church is a Christian entity and that practicing Catholics who adhere to their church’s standard theology are Christians. He emphatically stated, “I don’t have any interest in internecine battles between Christians.” That is not at all surprising coming from Craig because he is a disciple of ecumenical theologian, Norman Geisler. When asked to name some other leading evangelical apologists, he mentioned Lee Strobel and Ravi Zacharias, also disciples of Geisler and unapologetic supporters of ecumenism with Rome.
Toward the end of the discussion (at the 1:41:22 mark of the video below), Barron asked Craig why he hadn’t converted to Catholicism. Craig answered that while he admired some aspects of Catholicism (e.g., its ancient history and traditions*), he could not personally adhere to many Catholic beliefs, specifying Marian veneration/worship and the Catholic view on justification.
Rewind Craig’s last statement.
It’s at this point that I want to take a moment to comment on these regrettable proceedings.
Media savvy bishop Robert Barron is one of the most popular Catholic personalities in America. Some even call him the “new Fulton Sheen.” Barron has written fourteen books in which he unabashedly propagates the Catholic system of salvation. In order to attain Heaven, Barron, like all Catholic prelates and clerics, teaches that a person must be baptized and receive the Catholic church’s sacraments, in order to receive sanctifying graces to be able to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!), in order to remain in a “state of grace” so as to “hopefully” merit Heaven at the moment of death. In shorthand, the Catholic system requires faith in its sacramental system and qualifying good works in order to merit Heaven.
But that is definitely NOT the same Gospel that Craig professes. Craig says that he believes that salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The two gospels are contrary. They are not the same. They are actually incompatible.
So how does Craig reconcile in his head and in his soul sitting down with a Catholic bishop and discussing their alleged common enemy, aggressive secularism, when he does not personally believe the Catholic church has the correct, Biblical teaching on justification and salvation???????
I do not understand.
Does not compute.
Can someone please help me understand how an evangelical can rationalize sidestepping this unbridgeable, irreconcilable difference on justification and salvation that has eternal consequences for every individual?
While Barron commented on the great blessings of worshiping the consecrated Jesus bread wafer, Craig sat silently in his chair. After all, we can’t rock the boat over “different perspectives,” right? Let’s just concentrate on C.S. Lewis’s wide-is-the-way “Mere Christianity” (referenced several times in this discussion) and we’ll all get along just fine in the sandbox, right?
Meanwhile, Roman Catholics are dying and going to a Christ-less eternity because compromisers like Craig are betraying the Gospel.
“If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.” – Ezekiel 3:17-18
*When pressed to name some things he admired about Catholicism, Craig mentioned its ancient history and traditions, but even a casual student of Roman Catholicism knows that much of the church’s authoritarian history is unflattering and most of its traditions are un-Biblical or even anti-Biblical.
For my previous post on Catholicism’s polezni durak or “useful fools,” see here.”