A Witness to Unity

As anyone who has read my new book, The Faith, knows, I have a deep passion to help the Church know what it believes, why it believes it, and how to defend the basic truths all Christians have held since the Apostolic era.

In it, I have talked a lot about the early Church, when the apostles’ teaching was fresh in the minds of church leaders. Christians stood together in defense of what they believed, against the open hostility-and sometimes the lion’s den-of the Roman Empire.

The Church, I think, is in a similar situation today. We are not being fed to the lions in the Coliseum, but we do face very real threats-from militant atheism to the homicidal maniacs of Islamo-fascism. So we need unity if we are going to defend and advance the kingdom of God.

That is why I am so excited about a new book titled Between Two Worlds. It is the moving autobiography of one of my closest friends, Mike Timmis. I was honored to write the book’s foreword.

Growing up in a tough section of Detroit, Mike was raised a devout Catholic. But it was not until 1983, at a dinner party where some evangelicals gave their testimonies, that Mike became what he calls himself today: a Christ-follower. Since then, Mike, a successful businessman, has gone all over the world, sharing the Gospel and setting up projects to help the poor. He is one of the most enthusiastic soul-winners I know. He succeeded me some years ago as the Chairman of the Board of Prison Fellowship International, and during his tenure, the international ministry has doubled in size, with ministries in 113 nations.

But not only has Mike done a good job spreading the Gospel, he stands as a witness to the efforts to help bring the Church together. This year is the 15th anniversary of a group that Fr. Richard Neuhaus and I started called Evangelicals and Catholics Together. Our goal is not to deny our differences, but to understand what we both believe in common and to recognize one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. In the process, we have discovered areas of agreement we never knew we had.

As I recounted in my book The Faith, we produced a document titled “The Gift of Salvation,” in which we outline how we all agree on what the Protestant Reformers called sola fide-justification by faith alone. It is a remarkable document showing remarkable progress. But Mike Timmis and I stand together, living it. While each of us stands firm in our own faith tradition, we have learned much from each other, despite our different confessions.

As Mike puts it in Between Two Worlds, “We do not work for unity; we work to end and erase disunity. Unity is of God; disunity is of man. In matters of doctrine and practice of conscience, our guide should be this traditional saying: ‘In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. But in all things, love.'”

Many of you may have doubts and questions about what I am saying here. That is okay. I invite you to visit our website, BreakPoint.org, to read more about Evangelicals and Catholics Together, and I urge you to order a copy of Mike Timmis’s gripping book, Between Two Worlds.

To learn more about the traditions of our fellow believers is not to abandon our own view. I am a Baptist; I will die that way. Rather, it is the key to understanding how much we really have in common, and how much we need one another to defend against those who want to destroy all Christians, regardless of denomination.

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