Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Beth Newman on "Christian Unity and Baptist-Catholic Conversations"

Dr. Elizabeth Newman, Professor of Theology and Ethics at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond and a member of the Baptist delegation to the ongoing conversations between the Baptist World Alliance and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, has contributed to Associated Baptist Press a nice opinion column reflecting on the significance of our latest round of conversations held in Rome December 13-19, 2009--"Christian Unity and Baptist-Catholic Conversations" (click on hyperlinked title). Here's a snippet:

The 2009 meeting, held in Rome this past December 13-18, took up the question of “Oversight and Primacy in the Ministry of the Church.” Some may well wonder what Baptists and Catholics have to say to each other, especially about “primacy” (referring to the primacy of Peter or the pope). Adherents of both traditions have entertained stereotypes about the other. I recall thinking as a child that Catholics were not quite Christian because they worshiped Mary and believed in works-righteousness (both of which are not actually Catholic teaching). And I have been with Catholics who regarded Baptists as followers of a different faith.

Mindful as we are of the real division between Baptist and Catholic Christians, we must be more mindful still of the prayer of Jesus that all his disciples be one. And we must remember that such unity is essential to God’s salvific intentions for the world. “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21). It is the privilege of all Christians, as God’s adopted sons and daughters (Rom. 8:15-17), to share in the communion that the Son has with the Father, a gift given by the Spirit for the sake of the church and the world. Such triune communion is not uniformity but rather enhances the gifts that members give and receive from one another.

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