Evangelical and Catholic?: The ‘Conservative' Reformation's Scriptural Principle and the Catholicity of the Gospel

Jack Kilcrease is an instructor in theology at Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI. He recently successfully defended his doctoral dissertation at Marquette entitled "The Self-Donation of God: Gerhard Forde and the Question of Atonement in the Lutheran Tradition."

 As a Lutheran Christian one is bound to find popular Christianity in the United States to be a grave disappointment. The theological shallowness of the televangelists and prosperity mongers is unbearable. One is equally horrified by the mainline Protestant churches with their massive bureaucracies devoted to promoting whatever has become the new secular, political soupe du jour. In both cases, one finds a mixture of works righteousness, synergism, and enthusiasm.

 In reaction to this situation, a group of theologians associated with the journal Pro Ecclesia and the Center for Evangelical and Catholic Theology have attempted to develop an alternative to and a synthesis of both the classical Reformation and Roman Catholic models of authority. For this reason they have in accordance with the name of their research center termed their theology "Evangelical Catholicism." Those connected with this journal and research center, both founded by Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson, generally come from mainline Protestant denominations caught up in moral and doctrinal anarchy. For this reason they see a strong need for there to be a reassertion of authority within the visible church. Though they range in their opinions about ecclesial authority, the belief of most persons within this group is that the current situation in American and European Christianity stems for the most part from the Reformation's scriptural principle. Sola scriptura, in their view, has proven itself to be deficient. Though theology should center on, and promote the gospel, it is necessary to have a visibly unified church with the magisterial authority that is able to "e