Evangelical-Catholic dialogue has been a hot topic in the wake of the Pope’s recent affirmation of the Roman Catholic Church as the only true church. For example, Christianity Today‘s “Honest Ecumenism, Again” and “Virtue That Counts” as well as Al Mohler’s “No, I’m not offended” have been making the rounds in the blogosphere.
In this context, it is interesting to read some questions raised by my old mentor Daniel Wallace over at the “Parchment and Pen” blog. Although Wallace’s remarks are not a response to the Pope’s recent announcement, they are relevant to Evangelical-Catholic dialogue. Wallace says, “I’m still at least 51% Protestant.” You’ll want to go and read the whole thing, but here’s his conclusion:
“I’m questioning some of the tenets of Protestantism and evangelicalism. That doesn’t mean that I’m questioning the whole thing; I still believe that the evangelical faith is the best expression of genuine Christianity today. But I also believe that it is flawed and that we can learn from Catholics and Orthodox. And just as it is possible for someone to be saved and be an evangelical, I think it’s possible for someone to be saved and be a Catholic or eastern Orthodox. So, I’m still at least 51% Protestant (and Luther is still a hero of mine), but I have no qualms criticizing my own tradition and exploring what we can learn from others.
“This, of course, raises a significant issue: If the theological distinctions between Catholics, Orthodox, and evangelicals don’t define the boundaries of heaven and hell, then what do they do? What is the value of such distinctions? What purpose do they serve?”