• John G. Stackhouse, Jr.

Evangelicals and Catholics (Mostly) Together

Here, in a recent number of First Things, itself a place of conversation between evangelicals and Catholics, is a special recent initiative of evangelical-Catholic dialogue, namely, a response to the pope’s important recent writing, Caritas in Veritate.

The response is offered on behalf of “evangelicals,” but it has arisen largely on the initiative  of some Christian Reformed individuals and groups (a tradition which, let’s gratefully acknowledge, has done a lot of the serious thinking on behalf of evangelicals at large). Your servant is one of the signatories, as are a number of friends and my Regent colleague Prof. Paul Williams.

The response will appear also in the September edition of Books and Culture (one of the few magazines published by and for smart evangelicals, and interested others).

As I reflect briefly to this exchange, I look forward to an evangelical writing a piece on the relationship of truth and love so good and so important that it prompts high-level Catholic response. But who among evangelicals would write that quality of piece and get that sort of attention? N. T. Wright? Nicholas Wolterstorff? Miroslav Volf? Richard Mouw?

I don’t mean that I hanker for an evangelical pope. I really don’t. I long instead for evangelical theology that can speak with the several qualities of the best encyclicals of the current and previous popes: grounded in scholarship and piety, accessible to a wide range of readers, in dialogue with both theory and praxis, and both weighty and incisive enough to warrant and attract significant attention.

Who is writing such work? What is it? Is there something about evangelicalism or particularly the social location of evangelical theologians and theologically-minded leaders that militates against such writing?