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    Family and Friends Issue 8

    February 18, 2016

    Evangelicals and Catholics Together

    “Howls of negativity” is how J. I. Packer described the reaction of some evangelicals to the launch of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) in 1994: critics saw it as “a subversive Roman Catholic power play.” In fact, ECT was founded by Charles Colson and Richard John Neuhaus as a way for Christians from across the Reformation divide to proclaim the gospel together. Since the first ECT statement on Christian unity and mission, eight statements have followed. Some have addressed points of faith such as justification and scripture. Others have spoken to urgent matters of public concern, such as 2006’s pro-life declaration and 2012’s “In Defense of Religious Freedom.”

    Last year saw the publication of “The Two Shall Become One: Reclaiming Marriage,” ECT’s eloquent account of the biblical truth of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman (excerpted in Plough’s Spring 2015 issue). All nine statements, with introductions and notes, are now available in a valuable volume, Evangelicals and Catholics Together at Twenty: Vital Statements on Contested Topics (ed. Timothy George and Thomas G. Guarino, Brazos, 2015). Here is essential reading for anyone concerned about how a divided church can give witness to Jesus together.

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    Bearing Witness

    For centuries, Anabaptist communities around the world have been shaped by stories of the martyrs as portrayed in books such as Martyrs Mirror and the ­Hutterian Chronicle. These examples of steadfastness unto death still challenge us to faithfulness, repentance, and renewal.

    Today, Christian martyrdom is no longer just a distant historical phenomenon; thousands of Christians die for their faith each year, many of them members of Anabaptist congregations such as the Nigerian Christians persecuted by Boko Haram. In the tradition of Martyrs Mirror, the Bearing Witness Stories Project has been collecting their stories at and now in a new book, Bearing Witness: Stories of Martyr­dom and Costly Discipleship (Plough, 2016). In the words of J. Nelson Kraybill, president of the Mennonite World Conference: “Christian martyrdom and costly discipleship are not confined to some legendary past. This book teaches us about nonviolent love in the face of opposition and challenge us to take risks for the gospel today.”

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