by Terry M. Smith
Based on his study of church trends here, Dr. Reg Bibby suggests that Evangelicals and Roman Catholics should work together more in Canada (A New Day, 2012, free download).
Bibby, a professor of sociology at the University of Lethbridge (and a graduate from a Baptist seminary), says, to his surprise, that Evangelicals and Roman Catholics have healthy patterns of church attendance in Canada.
Catholic attendance is strong outside of Quebec, and Evangelical churches have grown overall, he says. In contrast, the United, Anglican, Lutheran, and Presbyterian churches are in serious decline.
Bibby says that Catholics and Evangelicals are now the major players among churches in Canada.
Do issues remain between Catholics and Evangelicals (including Anabaptists)? Of course. Despite the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church signing a document saying that they agree on the doctrine of justification (1999), I suspect Martin Luther would not have signed it. If asked, I could not sign it now.
Further, workers in other countries describe many nominal Catholics, Catholicism’s being mixed with folk religions, and an unclear message of grace in Catholic circles. These stories must be listened to carefully with discernment.
In Canada, need we Evangelicals take an antagonistic stance toward Roman Catholicism and Catholics? I will not do so. We can seek common ground where it exists; and as long as the Apostles’ Creed is held and said in genuine belief, it does exist.
Blind cooperation isn’t warranted, but who says we need to be blind to cooperate?