The 1990s saw emphasis on ecumenism and two documents were produced, hoping for greater unity between Roman Catholics and evangelicals. Evangelicals and Catholics Together came out in 1994 and The Gift of Salvation in 1997. The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals expressed their distress over the latter document in 1998, considering it seriously flawed. Sproul gives careful scrutiny to The Gift of Salvation paragraph by paragraph in the second part of the book.
Sproul points out the differences in belief between Roman Catholics and evangelicals. For example, Roman Catholics and evangelicals agree that justification is based on the righteousness of Christ. Roman Catholics say the righteousness is infused sacramentally while evangelicals say it is imputed to us but is not inherently ours. The Gift of Salvation is vague on the issue, not affirming or denying the imputation. (67-68) He identifies other places where the document is ambiguous and points out “how deeply divided the historical Roman Catholic and evangelical views of salvation really are.” (91)
After the publication of those documents, there rose the issue of unity among evangelicals – those signing the documents and those in opposition to them. Evangelicals on both sides came together and created a document about the gospel to restore and strengthen evangelical unity. It is called The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration. Sproul provides the text of the document in the third part of the book and follows with comment.
This book is a repackaged edition of Sproul's book that originally came out in 1999. I am not sure of the relevance of the book today, some twenty years after the document in question was issued. Sproul does comment on ecumenism in general and the documents that are produced. He notes that they must be ambiguous and use evasive language, minimizing differences.
Sproul is a scholar of Reformed theology and writes like one. He has included much historical background and theological information in this book. Much of the book may be beyond the interest and comprehension of of most lay people. I recommend it to those interested in recent ecumenical documents and a critique from a Reformed theologian.
My rating: 4/5.
R. C. Sproul has been a seminary professor, pastor, and is the author of more than one hundred books. He is the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries and the chancellor of Reformed Bible College. His teaching can be heard daily on the program Renewing Your Mind. He is also the executive editor of Tabletalk magazine and general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.
Baker Books, 240 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.