Every once in a while we have the great privilege of having a mirror held up to us that reflects truthfully who we are. Such mirrors enable us to see ourselves from the vantage point of those holding the mirror – a gift when we’re trying to figure out where God has placed us and how God is leading us.
A resource prepared by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) called Our Evangelical Neighbours: A Catholic Reflection on Evangelical Christianity offers this kind of gift. It’s an examination of evangelicalism that was shaped in part by the Roman Catholic-Evangelical Dialogue, a group of six Roman Catholics and six Evangelicals brought together twice a year by the CCCB and the EFC.
This dialogue was formed in 2010 by the CCCB and the EFC to
- Pray together, seeking to gather together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit;
- Seek mutual understanding, learning from one another and dispelling harmful stereotypes; and
- Witness to our common faith in Jesus Christ and shared Christian worldview.
The dynamic at play here is that of a two-way mirror. Just as our Roman Catholic friends hold the mirror for us, we do the same for them. We reflect back to them who they are, just as we gain better understanding for ourselves of who they are.
This kind of dynamic can only work well when we who hold the mirrors do so respectfully, out of a commitment to listen deeply to what the others are saying. It also requires we speak truthfully, so those who are listening can reflect back an accurate image of what’s being said. If we were to speak distorted truths, distorted images would come back to us – a real waste of time and opportunity!
Our commitment to respectful listening is deepened as we’ve come to trust that the Holy Spirit is truly guiding those from the “other side” of this dialogue. We have recognized that not only do we have common ground with Roman Catholics in terms of the societal challenges that face us both, but we also share “holy ground” whenever we pray together, reflect on God’s words in Scripture and connect what we’re hearing from God to the conversation subjects at hand.
As Archbishop Daniel Bohan, an early co-chair of this dialogue, put it, we trust each other because we recognize in one another a deep love of Jesus. This is our shared starting point; it means that we can follow Jesus together into many areas of life and service.
Our Evangelical Neighbours: A Catholic Reflection on Evangelical Christianity is an early fruit of the Roman Catholic-Evangelical Dialogue, and we look forward to much more to come.
Aileen Van Ginkel is the EFC’s Vice-President, Ministry Services, and co-facilitator of the Roman Catholic-Evangelical Dialogue. The co-chair of the Dialogue, Rev. David Freeman of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, joined Aileen Van Ginkel in a recent interview by Father Tom Rosica about this new resource. Watch it online at Salt + Light TV.