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Ronald A. Wells

Irish Catholics and Protestants Together?

This is a book of brief, personal testimonies from Irish Roman Catholics who are involved with a movement called Evangelical Catholic Initiative (ECI). They have remained faithful members of the Catholic church while identifying themselves as "Evangelicals." In the face of the ongoing efforts to wreck the peace and thwart reconciliation in Northern Ireland, the testimonies gathered here—and endorsed by leading Irish Protestants—compel notice.

The underlying question this book addresses has troubled Protestants since the Reformation: Can Catholics be considered "Christians"? After all, if their church is "the Whore of Babylon" and the focal point of their corporate worship life is "idolatry," there can't be much hope for folk who stay within so significantly flawed a church. This was, and is, an important question because a vital aspect of Protestant self-understanding and public presentation has been, and is, anti-Catholicism.

Adventures in Reconciliation is particularly important for the light it sheds on the "state of play" regarding this underlying question. There are prefatory commendations by leading Irish Evangelicals: Trevor Morrow, Presbyterian; Ken Wilson, Methodist; Paul Reid, Independent Evangelical; Harold Miller, Anglican Church of Ireland. Then, there is an effusive foreword from Ken Newell, Presbyterian pastor from Belfast, whose towering integrity in the Evangelical movement lends instant credibility to the book.

Trevor Morrow writes, "I, as a Presbyterian, unequivocally accept and affirm with joy and enthusiasm these Roman Catholic believers as my brothers and sisters in Christ." But these Catholics are self-proclaimed Evangelicals, (i.e., they have come to "know the Lord as personal Savior"); would "regular" Catholics in good standing also be welcomed as fellow Christians?

The preface by Cardinal Cahal Daly focuses on that very question. I understand that Cardinal Daly was not initially enthusiastic about the book, and his preface shows that ...

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