Christianity Today: Not All Evangelicals and Catholics Together

Written by Joel on October 30th, 2009

Christianity Today published an article yesterday (Oct. 29) highlighting a church controversy which is getting special treatment in the modern day – the theology of justification. In simple terms, how do you answer to the question “how are sins forgiven, and how do you get into heaven?”

The article highlights the actions of an evangelical Christian group, InterVarsity, in their attempts to bar Roman Catholics from leadership positions.

My synopsis:

The article talks about how the statement of faith for InterVarsity simply stated in 1960 that “justification is by faith alone.” In 2000 the statement was revised to “justification is by God’s grace to all who repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.”

Catholics could not sign the first statement (it is condemned by Trent) but they could sign the second because the church has always taught that salvation is through Christ alone.

Now InterVarsity folks want to undo the 2000 statement and go back to “by faith alone” and not allow anyone on leadership who cannot affirm this.

….where have I heard this kind of anti-Catholicism before?

Chick Tract

Chick Tract

My comment:

It’s interesting to note the focus and source of justification for each of the two statements. “justification by faith alone” makes the one who believes their own redeemer whereas “…faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation” makes Christ unequivocally the author of salvation. I am lost in attempting to understand why one would want to remove Christ from a statement on justification! On top of that, the move is done explicitly for the purposes of excluding Roman Catholics. Doesn’t the second present a more full, accurate, biblical, and ecumenical approach to justification?

As a Protestant Christian (even evangelical!) I could not, in good conscience, sign that first statement. I think InterVarsity is excluding more than just our Catholic brethren here.

For further reading:

Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification – signed between the Vatican and the Lutheran Church in 1999. It lifts the anathemas of the council of Trent (see 41), and explains more fully what Protestants really mean when we say “salvation is by faith alone.”

Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision – Haven’t read this yet, but I love just about everything from N.T. Wright. This work is mentioned in the Christianity Today article.


3 Comments so far ↓

  1. Nick says:

    Where in the article does it say that IVCF wants to undo the 2000 statement?

    Read Alec Hill’s response:

    • Joel says:

      It is implied that certain leaders of IVCF what to go back to the “by faith alone” statement on page 4 of the Christianity Today article.

      “Hill also allowed that the GWU executive team could require leaders to affirm “justification by faith alone” in the student application process (ditor’s note: Efforts to contact InterVarsity staff at GWU were unsuccessful.).” This is expanded throughout the last page of the article.

      Thanks Nick for commenting here, I will certainly read the response link you posted.

  2. Joel says:


    It seems (after reading the Alec Hill’s response) that IVCF is NOT changing their statement on justification – a good thing.

    The original article is instead reporting on some former IVCF leaders who left in response to the new justification statement.

    My criticism is aimed at those who are leaving IVCF because of the 2000 statement, in favor of the more simple “by faith alone” response.

    Thank you very much for helping me find this clarification.

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