My warm greetings and love from beautiful Orlando!
Please allow me to update you on a most wonderful breakthrough and act of healing and understanding in the Body of Christ. Key Christian leaders who had been in disagreement over the 1994 statement with certain Roman Catholic believers have been reconciled by our most gracious Lord.
According to our records, several communicated to me or my office regarding my signing, with other evangelical leaders, along with certain Roman Catholic believers, the statement called Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium, referred to as ECT.
In some detail, I shared with many as to why I felt the Lord lead me to sign the document. Among other things, I pointed out there was absolutely no compromise on biblical truths, and that it would in no way prevent us from sharing the gospel with Catholics any more than with Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, or Baptists. There are nonbelievers in all denominations. It has, in fact, already helped us reach Catholics with the gospel in predominantly Catholic countries where we have staff. Now in 161 countries, Campus Crusade has a world perspective not shared by many U.S. Christian leaders, and our international leadership has affirmed how this agreement has already helped open doors and facilitated our evangelism in Catholic countries.
However, not all evangelical leaders were in favor of the agreement. A few Christian leaders whom I greatly respect told me they thought my signing it was a mistake. After some initial dialogue did not resolve the disagreement, several of those who opposed the statement and some who signed it were jointly concerned that such conflict might cause discord in the Body and do damage to the cause of Christ. To avoid this, we agreed to meet together in one place, to pray and share and to seek God's mind and will.
We met in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the home of Dr. D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries, on January 19, 1995. The meeting included three signers of the ECT document: Chuck Colson, J. I. Packer, and myself. Leaders present who had not signed the statement were John Ankerberg, John MacArthur, R. C. Sproul, Joe Stowell, John Woodbridge and D. James Kennedy.
There is no doubt that the presence of the Lord was there. He guided our dialogue by His grace. I was so deeply impressed by the loving spirit within these leaders and their desire to truly hear from God and do what was right in His sight.
Since the ECT statement had already helped us reach more Catholics in other countries, the Holy Spirit brought tears to my eyes before these men as I explained that repudiating the agreement would probably cause tens of millions of Catholics to not hear the gospel and to be eternally lost. I pleaded that our meeting not be the cause of such an eternal loss.
We prayed for God's wisdom, and His marvelous grace provided it in a final, unanimous accord that would not have the signers repudiate the ECT but would allow us to issue a clarifying statement, which I provide for you as attached. This clarifying statement should remove any doubt of the evangelical signers' purposes and unquestioned devotion to biblical Christianity.
As I believe was the case for all who were in attendance, I left the meeting with great joy, sensing that we had truly been in the presence of our wonderful Lord and Savior, whose Spirit had spoken to our hearts. The decision should enhance evangelism and unity among true believers while at the same time removing any doubt about where we stand on biblical truth as represented by historic Protestantism. We praise His mighty Name and thank Him for this historic accord among the brethren.
One of the leaders later wrote, "I will never forget Bill Bright saying that we don't want to be responsible for keeping millions out of the kingdom and being sentenced to hell." No doubt, the decision of the leaders in attendance will, indeed, help reach millions more Protestants and Catholics with the gospel, who are Christians in name only.
I invite you to rejoice with me over the way our the Lord worked all this out and the clarification that has been issued! I regret that the original statement was not more clear from the standpoint of the evangelical signers, but I am happy that the matter was resolved by men of good will, motivated by love, a pure heart and a desire for unity of the Spirit.
God bless you.
Warm affection in Christ.
Yours for fulfilling the Great
Commission in this generation,