The closer ties between evangelicals and Catholics in the U.S. and Canada on theological and social issues is also taking root in Britain, according to the Catholic magazine The Tablet (Jan. 29).
Elaine Storkey writes that the old posture of separatism between Catholics and evangelicals in Britain of 20 years ago has given way to a new mood of cooperation between these believers. The recent Joint Declaration on the doctrine of justification by faith between the Vatican and the Lutherans has served to convince evangelicals that Rome is changing, as well as to assure Catholics that evangelical beliefs are not in basic conflict with their church. This is especially true for the movement of “evangelical Catholics” in Ireland who have stayed in the RC church to work for unity even as they have embraced many evangelical teachings.
Storkey adds that joint Catholic-evangelical involvement in the charismatic movement and the Alpha programs (a course on Christian basics held in many churches) has also helped create this new unity. The evangelicals desire for greater engagement in social issues, particularly those coming from the house church movement started in the 1960s, has steered them in the direction of Catholic social teachings and activism.
Interestingly, Storkey does not see abortion and what may be seen as the “conservative” social issues uniting British evangelicals and Catholics as they have in the U.S. “Evangelical-Catholic alliances are no longer confined to the old moral or sexual issues; they are interested in the attempt to bring about a more just, human and socially concerned world,” as reflected in their work with the British Movement for Christian Democracy. Storkey concludes that there is a limit to the new alliance.
The attempt by Anglo-Catholics to consider a role for papal authority in church unity, as seen in the recent Anglican-Catholic document “The Gift of Authority,” has been unwelcome among British evangelicals.
(The Tablet, 1 King St., Cloisters, Clifton Walk, London W6 0Q2 England)