An InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter can look very different in the fall than it did the previous spring. But the chapter at George Washington University (GWU) in the nation’s capital is dealing with change of a more uncomfortable kind than absent graduates and incoming freshmen.
Shortly before students left for summer vacation, the D.C. chapter split when all ten student leaders resigned to form a new campus ministry called University Christian Fellowship. More than half of the chapter’s roughly 100 students joined them. At issue was student leaders’ worry that the national ministry confuses the gospel by cooperating with Roman Catholics, and has a mission statement that Catholics could sign without violating church teaching on the doctrine of justification—how sinners are declared righteous before God.
As an “un-anathematized” Protestant (at least provisionally; I agree with the Catholic-Lutheran Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in principle, but haven’t really dug into the details), it saddens me to see fellow believers so eager not to find points of commonality with their brothers and sisters in Christ. For example, consider the following consecutive paragraphs in the article:
“If you buy into [N. T.] Wright’s approach to covenantal theology, then you’ve already taken three steps toward the Catholic Church. Keep following the trail and you’ll be Catholic,” said [Taylor] Marshall, who blogs at PaulIsCatholic.com. “Salvation is sacramental, transformational, communal, and eschatological. Sound good? You’ve just assented to the Catholic Council of Trent.”
Wright himself finds strange the notion that he’s leading people to Rome. “I am sorry to think that there are people out there whose Protestantism has been so barren that they never found out about sacraments, transformation, community, or eschatology. Clearly this person needed a change. But to jump to Rome for that reason is very odd,” he said. The best Reformed, charismatic, Anglican, and even some emerging churches have these emphases, he said.
How do Protestants not know that their historic theology goes far deeper and wider than the immediate concerns of the Reformation of the sixteenth century? Never mind; stupid question.