Editor Thomas Rausch is a Jesuit who is professor of Catholic Theology and department chair at Loyola Marymount University. HE wrote in the Foreword to this 2000 book, "The Evangelicals and Catholics Together documents... received the endorsement of no ecclesial bodies. The new patterns of cooperation between Catholics and evangelicals have been largely local and ad hoc... It would be irresponsible ... simply to ignore the theological discussion in all this. Doctrinal concerns are too important to both of our communities. This is why this book of essays is an important gift to both Catholics and evangelical Protestants. The authors have been intensely involved in Catholic-evangelical dialogue, and they take on the 'big' topics on which the two communities have significant disagreements: salvation, ecclesiology, authority, the sacraments, evangelism. There are no attempts here at an easy consensus. But there are serious... efforts to get past the long-standing pattern of talking past each other." (Pg. 2-3)
One essayist notes, "The Second Vatican Council brought with it a new way of doing business... And Evangelicals were watching. When the bishops wrote in the 'Dogmatic Constitution on the Church' that as they looked beyond the confines of the Roman Catholic Church they had identified in other places 'many elements of sanctification and of truth,' Evangelicals were pleased. When the bishops penned the 'Decree on Ecumenism' and admitted, perhaps for the first time, that 'men on both sides were to blame' for the separation which had occurred at the time of the Reformation, and that it was inappropriate to view those persons who were outside the Roman Catholic Church as in some way necessarily guilty of the sins of their forebears, Evangelicals were surprised. When... the bishops suggested that the appropriate title for believers who were not Roman Catholic was 'brothers'... Evangelicals decided that they needed to look more carefully at what was going on." (Pg. 23)
Rausch admits in an essay, "Catholics have often tended to stereotype Evangelicals and Pentecostals... they have tended to dismiss all Evangelicals as fundamentalists... Many ... were deeply offended when John Paul II in his remarks at the Fourth General Conference of Latin American Bishops... held at Santo Domingo in 1992, implicitly included them among the 'sects' which he characterized as acting like 'rapacious wolves,' devouring Latin American Catholics and 'causing division and discord' in Catholic communities." (Pg. 39) He also notes that "College campus ministers have objected that groups like Inter-Varsity Fellowship and Campus Crusade for Christ have often tended to work in competition with the historic churches and in fact are often anti-ecclesial, setting up independent fellowships, sometimes with non-denomination sacramental rituals." (Pg. 41)
Rausch observes about the ECT document, "Though theologically quite sophisticated, it tends to focus on those moral and social concerns shared by Catholic neo-conservatives and the religious right, among them opposition to abortion, euthanasia, pornography, and the idea that in areas of marriage, parenthood, and family, tolerance 'requires the promotion of moral equivalance between the normative and the deviant.'" (Pg. 47-48)
Another essayist points out, "Most Evangelicals... would not hesitate to claim Martin Luther (1483-1546) as their spiritual ancestor, and even as their spiritual prototype, although Luther himself would not have recognized their theology and would probably have rejected large parts of it. But Evangelicals are one with Luther on the question of justification by faith, and for them that is all that really matters. His sacramental theology... is simply overlooked or dismissed as a secondary matter." (Pg. 80)
This book will be of great interest to anyone studying Catholic/Protestant issues and dialogue.