I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been asked that question. Of course, I have to be careful in giving an answer, insofar as I can’t peer into the hearts and thought processes of another human. Only they know the true answer to that question. But let me venture a few thoughts.
Notwithstanding the efforts of ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together), the divisions between Catholicism and Protestantism are long-standing and the reasons multi-faceted. Whereas the vast majority of Protestants remain suspicious of Roman Catholicism, a few, often well-known figures (e.g., the late Richard John Neuhaus, Thomas Howard, Scott Hahn, Francis Beckwith), find a home in Rome. Before I address why we see such “conversions,” let me say a few words about why most evangelical Protestants are still suspicious of Rome.
The following are merely observations. I make no attempt to determine whether or not these evangelical fears are justified or misguided.
(1) Many Protestant evangelicals are energized by the Protestant martyrs of the reformation and post-reformation period: Hus, Cranmer, Tyndale, Hugh Latimer, Ridley, etc. They fear that dialogue with the RCC is a disservice and dishonor to those who gave their lives for their convictions. They were tortured and died for their refusal to embrace the Roman Catholic Mass or bow to papal authority. ECT represents for many evangelicals a tacit dismissal of such heroes of the faith: “Are we selling out those who sacrificed so much? Why are we willing to compromise so easily on matters that were to them a question of life and death?”
(2) Evangelicals fear the loss of theological integrity. They believe that the only way to enter a dialogue with Rome is by compromising on several key theological issues. Most evangelicals believe that unity is theologically based. Cooperative efforts must be grounded in theological consensus. Is this biblical? Is it