Evangelikale und Katholiken …

Schirmmacher_Papst.JPGThomas Schirrmacher und Thomas Johnson erklären als Mitglieder der „World Reformed Fellowship“ (WRF) in 3 Punkten ihre Haltung, die sie als Vertreter der Weltweiten Evangelischen Allianz (WEF) in den Kontakten zu hohen Vertretern der röm.-kath. Kirche (inkl. dem aktuellen Papst) einnnehmen.

Sie antworten auf die innerevangelikale Kritik, dass in der großen Nähe die sie zur kath. Kirche einnehmen, die theol. Überzeugungen der evangelikalen Community unter die Räder geraten könnten …

Ihr Antwort erhält drei Ansätze:

  1. Es ist möglich – und notwendig – dass respektvolle Interaktion und Zusammenarbeit mit katholischen Vertretern, als auch mit Menschen anderer Religionen angemessen geschehen kann, ohne unsere theol. Überzeugungen zu ändern oder abzuschwächen.
  2. Wir haben – bezogen auf die Ansätze mancher unserer Kririker – andere Wahrnehmungen sowohl von der röm.-kath. Kirche, als auch von den drängenden Bedürfnissen der evangelikalen Missionsbewegung.
  3. Viele in der oberen Leiterebene der röm.-kath. Kirche sind in vielen theol. Themenfelder (inkl. der „Rechtfertigung aus Glauben“) unsere Partner; dies gilt auch für die Bereiche sozialer und ethischer Problemfelder, auch dann, wenn gleichzeitig viele Katholiken in andren theol. Bereichen sich von unserem Verständnis bibl. Wahrheit wegbewegen.

Die wichtige Frage ist, ob dies für die „obere Leiterebene“ ggf. zutrifft, aber in den Orsgemeinden nicht wirklich ankommt: jedenfalls kennt man in der örtl. Situation nur ganz selten einen  kath. Priester der die „Rechtfertigung aus Glauben“ im Sinne der Reformation von ganzem Herzen bezeugt:

  • es wäre auch ein Widerspruch zu den anderen Heilslehren der RKK: manchmal mögen die Begriffe stimmen, oftmals sind sie aber anders gefüllt?!

Aber hier der Text der innerprotestantischen Apologie:



[Note: The item below expresses the views of the individuals to whom the material is ascribed and does not necessarily reflect the position of the WRF as a whole.]

Collaboration without Compromise:
The World Evangelical Alliance and Roman Catholic Leaders

by
WRF Members Thomas Schirrmacher and Thomas K. Johnson[1]
drthschirrmacher@me.com and johnson.thomas.k@gmail.com

We sometimes receive strong criticism from evangelical Christians over our friendly interaction, on behalf of the World Evangelical Alliance, with senior Roman Catholic leaders. We have been accused of entering into spiritual union with the Antichrist; some evangelicals have refused to participate in a meeting with us because we have shaken hands with Pope Francis. Interestingly, our friendly meetings with Orthodox Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Hindus, or Sikhs do not provoke similar criticisms.

We cannot answer all such critics individually, nor are we inclined to respond to personal attacks. However, the disagreements highlight three crucial issues about public Christian witness and collaboration in a pluralistic world that deserve, we believe, careful attention.

1.  It is possible—indeed necessary—to interact in respectful fashion and to collaborate where appropriate with Roman Catholics and people of other faiths without changing or softening our theological convictions.

Some of our critics wonder if we have given up our historic Reformation theological positions and have moved towards accepting Catholic teachings on some topics, or that we think there are no longer major issues separating evangelical and Catholic teaching. This is not true. On the contrary, we have repeatedly affirmed the authority of the Bible and salvation by faith and grace alone, and we have not wavered from our adherence to the Westminster Confession of Faith ever since our ordination vows.

Leonardo De Chirico and Greg Pritchard, in a recent 12,000-word essay, expressed concern that one of us (Schirrmacher), the WEA’s Associate Secretary General for Theological Concerns, could be permitting religious experience to take precedence over the Bible due to our friendship with Roman Catholics. Indeed, involvement in interfaith and intrafaith dialogue can create pressure to water down one’s distinctive convictions in the name of mutual acceptance. However, we think there is ample evidence that we have resisted this threat.

We know that basing theological convictions on experience rather than the Bible has been a central mistake of liberal European Protestant theology for more than two hundred years. Over the last twenty years, we have frequently talked about how this problem tends to recur almost every decade, leading to ever new varieties of liberal theology. For our entire careers we have worked exhaustively to renew Bible-based theology and ethics, with a view to biblical theology guiding spiritual experience and all of life.

With regard to Roman Catholic theology specifically, Schirrmacher teaches the same doctrine that he taught in his German translation of the Westminster Confession and his book Indulgences, one of the sharpest criticisms of the Catholic view of salvation on the market (available as a free download here). These views have not changed. He is still one of the strongest critics of Roman Catholic theology, but honest criticism of Catholic theology must be accompanied by acknowledging when Catholics agree with us.

Our theology has not changed as a result of talking with Catholic, Orthodox, or Coptic leaders; if anything has changed, it is that we have intensified our commitment to a principle that both of us learned from Francis Schaeffer, which Schaeffer learned from John 13:35. The unbelieving world may legitimately demand that we display visible love for other Christians as a proof of our discipleship. We believe that such a display of love among Christians includes interacting socially with leaders of other organizations that are called Christian and seeking to defend people who are persecuted because they are called Christians. We can become close friends with the top leaders of other streams of Christianity while still remaining critical of some themes in their theology; in fact, we believe that we are morally obligated to behave in such a way. Our ultimate intent in all such efforts is to convince our neighbors to believe the gospel through seeing the visible love of Christians for each other.

2. We have different perceptions of both the Roman Catholic Church and the needs of the global evangelical mission movement from those of some of our critics.


 [1] Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher serves the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) as Associate Secretary General for Theological Concerns. Prof. Dr. Thomas K. Johnson serves the WEA as Religious Freedom Ambassador to the Vatican. Both are members of the World Reformed Fellowship.

 

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