Large numbers of evangelicals including Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition and president of the Christian Broadcasting Network; Charles Colson, head of the International Prison Fellowship Ministry; Steve Sheldon, director of the Traditional Values Coalition; Dr. Richard Land and Dr. Larry Lewis, officers of the Southern Baptist Convention; and a great deal of other prominent evangelicals joined with Roman Catholic leaders to endorse a declaration put together by the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, a Catholic theologian who heads the Institute on Religion and Public Life in Manhattan.
The document is entitled "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium;" the declaration's aim is to promote the growing ties among the nation's largest and most politically active religious groups; its purpose is to encourage continued Christian political activism aimed at "taking the country back for Christ and the church."
Pat Robertson, in approving the document, believes that the moral crisis facing the nation today mandates this kind of closer cooperation. The document reads in part, "As evangelicals and Catholics, we dare not, by needless and loveless conflict between ourselves, give aid and comfort to the enemies (read, the secular-humanists, the ACLU, B'nai Brith, etc. - editor) of the cause of Christ."
The Rev. David Scoates, a Methodist, concurs; he said, "I think it is about time we (all begin to) work together, particularly against evil influences in our society." Steve Sheldon, the political director for the Traditional Values Coalition, added, "We are very excited about the programs that we can accomplish together;" he continued, "We hope to work together (with Catholics) to further our common goals."
Mark Noll, a historian at Wheaton College, agrees; he further notes the implications of all this: that as evangelicals begin to work more closely with Catholics to effect political change in the country, they must stop proselytizing Catholics and thinking of them as "unsaved;" that evangelicals must no longer "... consider Catholics as ogres or anti-Christs." He continues, "In the best American fashion, activism has led to reflection ..." [Maybe, the better word is "compromise" - editor]
Neuhaus, however, exalts in this kind of thinking; he believes that the Catholic Church must now "seize the moment" and take advantage of evangelicalism's new attitude towards cooperation; he writes, "This is the moment in which the Roman Catholic Church can and should be the lead church ... This can and should also be the moment in which the Roman Catholic Church in the United States assumes its rightful role in the culture-forming task of constructing a religiously informed public philosophy for the American experiment in ordered liberty."[4 ]Ordered liberty? - maybe someone should ask Neuhaus what he means by that.
The Rev. Gregory Coiro of the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles said that the statement is the "fruit of the time in which we live." Yes, indeed, it is the fruit of the time in which we live! Political activism has evidently become more important to evangelicals than the Gospel. "The times, they are 'a changing'!" - and along with it, countless numbers of evangelicals too.Written By S. R. Shearer