For the few of you who haven't heard yet, Francis Beckwith, philosopher, writer, and (now former) president of the Evangelical Theological Society, has converted to Catholicism (or, as one dear Catholic friend gleefully told me, "returned to the true Church" *grin*). Dr. Beckwith holds a great deal of influence and respect and the move has left a lot of evangelicals a bit shell-shocked.
I can understand that. My first thought when I came to Notre Dame and started learning more about Catholicism was "Hey--these guys aren't the crazy cult I've been told they are! We actually have a lot in common and are probably brothers and sisters in Christ!" But there is a lot of bad history, bad historical theology, misunderstanding, and distrust on both sides of the fence. Vatican II has done a lot to reconcile the two sides, but language still confuses the issue. Sometimes I will hear a Catholic definition of grace or forgiveness and the heresy alarms start going off in my head, but when I ask someone to describe what they mean, often they are just using different words to mean something very similar or identical to what I believe. A lot of Protestants will dismiss Dr. Beckwith as having "gone off the tracks." He already has received snarky comments from people urging him to read the Bible or think through this (What, you think he hasn't already!?), but I wonder if some other, more thoughtful Protestants will take a closer look at Catholicism and see if there's more (or less) to it than they thought. I'm not saying I hope there's wholesale conversion to Catholicism (to all you hopeful Catholics out there, no, I'm NOT converting *grin*), but I do think there is a lot both persuasions could gain from friendly dialog with fellow members of the (little c) catholic Church.
HT: Derek, inter alia