More in common?

An article by David Howard in the Wall Street Journal on the conversion of Francis Beckwith, former president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), makes what has become a common claim: that Christians who are theologically conservative, whether Catholic or evangelical, have more in common than that which divides them.

At least that is the implied claim in this paragraph from “Rome-ward Bound”:

A common element among these converts is a strong commitment to the Catechism and papal encyclicals. These Catholics are not generally in sympathy with the theologically liberal wing of the American Catholic Church but are enthusiastic supporters of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI’s emphasis on orthodox teaching and practice. In short, they have more in common theologically with evangelicals than with liberal Catholics, and evangelicals themselves, in many respects, have more in common with traditional Catholics than with mainline Protestants. Especially on social and political issues, there is much room for common cause.

This may be overstated. While it is true that we share generally conservative social values with orthodox Catholics (and orthodox Orthodox, for that matter), there remains a huge stumbling block: Sola scriptura.

This can’t be negotiable, and the Roman Church’s history is proof of the errors that can be made when the wisdom of a hierarchy is substituted for the Word. Catholics are right about many things, and it is still true (at least to me) that what we have in common is far more important than that which divides us.

But that which divides us should be insurmountable to a Bible-believing Christian. In Mr. Beckwith’s case, he chose to put aside sola scriptura. And, contrary to the essay, it isn’t about the Apocrypha. It’s the rock-ribbed truth of the Reformation, as expressed by ETS, that “the Bible alone . . . is the Word of God written.”

The Bible is sufficient for me.

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