AND CONSERVATIVE PROTESTANTS
Differences and Agreements between Roman Catholics and conservative Protestants:
At any time over the past five centuries, many "hot" religious topics have been
debated. Often, Christians have attempted to preserve the status quo, while secular,
medical, political and special interest groups have sought change. Some of these battles have been long settled; others are still in
progress. In recent years, we have seen many debates where conservative Christians
have attempted to preserve certain traditions, while liberal religious groups, feminists,
gays, lesbians, and some scientists, therapists, medical personnel etc have tried to bring
Often, the Roman Catholic church and conservative Protestants (Fundamentalists and
other Evangelicals) find themselves on the same side of major "hot"
The Roman Catholic church restricts access of women to most positions
of authority and power in the church; Evangelicals hold diverse beliefs in this area.
The Southern Baptists recently decided that women are not eligible for
ordination. But some other conservative Protestant denominations ordain
women and accept them in leadership positions.
They disagree in two topics: use of birth control by
married couples, and capital punishment. The Roman Catholic
church is opposed to both. Most Evangelicals believe that birth control
usage is a personal matter for each couple to decide, and that the death
penalty is the preferred way of dealing with some murderers.
Although they share many beliefs and social policies, their theological differences and
bitter history of division have made it difficult for Roman Catholics and conservative
Protestants to mount joint programs and cooperate on important causes.
Chuck Colson was an aide to Richard Nixon's presidency during the times of the
Watergate scandal. After being released from prison, Colson formed Prison Fellowship,
an Evangelical Christian outreach to convicts. He has been perhaps the most active
Evangelical Christian in the promotion of Roman Catholic-Evangelical cooperation. He wrote
the foreword to Kieth Fournier's book: "Evangelical Catholics," in
which he stated:
"...those who are called of God, whether Catholic or Protestant, are part of
the same Body. What they share is a belief in the basics: the virgin birth, the deity of
Christ, His bodily resurrection, His imminent return, and the authority of His infallible
Word. They also share the same mission: presenting Christ as Savior and Lord to a needy
world. Those who hold to these truths and act on this commission are evangelical
Christians. … It's high time that all of us who are Christians come together
regardless of the difference of our confessions and our traditions and make common cause
to bring Christian values to bear in our society. When the barbarians are scaling the
walls, there is no time for petty quarreling in the camp.... We have much to forgive, much
to relearn. But Evangelical Catholics can help us do both so we can band together against
the rising tides of secularism which threaten to engulf us." 1
Billy Graham is perhaps the best known and loved conservative Christian evangelist in
North America. He has long been involved in a close working relationship with the Roman
Catholic church. He is perhaps the most influential Protestant involved in the
Catholic-Evangelical ecumenical movement: 2
In 1964, after a meeting with Richard Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, Mr. Graham
said: "I feel much closer to Roman Catholic tradition than
to some of the more liberal Protestants."
in 1967, he received an honorary degree from a Roman Catholic institution: Belmont
In 1979, he recognized Pope John Paul II as "the moral
leader of the world."
In 1981, during an interview in Christianity Today, he
said that one of the most significant changes in Christendom over the previous 25 years
was "...the new understanding between Roman Catholics and Protestants. Twenty-five
years ago we could hardly speak with each other openly. In our Crusades today, thousands
of Catholics feel free to attend. I have preached in Roman Catholic schools, and have even
received honorary doctorates from them. this could not have happened 25 years ago."
In 1981, he met the pope for the first time, and was the first Protestant to
ever speak at
the North American College, a seminary for students from North America at the
In 1983, he advised President Reagan in the decision to establish formal diplomatic
relations with the Vatican.
In 1990, Dr Graham met with the pope, to discuss Eastern Europe and relations between
Evangelicals and Roman Catholics worldwide.
Billy Graham's team generally seeks the cooperation of both Protestant and Roman
Catholic churches in those urban areas where they have conducted recent campaigns.
Roman Catholics who make a decision for Christ at his meetings are referred back to
counselors at their diocese.
Activities by other Evangelical Leaders:
Promise Keepers, the leading
Evangelical Christian men's organization in the United States calls on individuals in all
Christian groups to "tear down all denominational barriers" and join
together in committing their lives to Jesus.
Jack van Impe is arguably the leading Evangelical
teleministry devoted to end-times prophecy. He frequently refers to the Roman Catholic
church in a positive context on his weekly program.
Robert Schuller, promoter of "Possibility Thinking"
also refers to Catholicism positively in his TV program.
The Charismatic movement straddles both Protestantism and
Catholicism. At "The North American Congress on the Holy Spirit and World
Evangelization" in 1987, 40,000 Charismatic Christians met. Present were Roman
Catholics, Evangelicals, and Mainline Christians. The Catholic contingent was the largest
of any denomination.