WASHINGTON (September 17, 2001) -- The understanding of salvation among Southern Baptists, and how the Southern Baptist interpretation differs from the Catholic perspective, was the theme of a recent Southern Baptist-Catholic Conversation.
Participants in this Conversation met at South Eastern Baptist Seminary, September 6-8. They discussed a paper by Dr. Rudolph Gonzalez of the Department of Interfaith Evangelism of the North American Mission Board, Southern Baptist Convention.
The paper took up themes originally outlined from a Catholic perspective by Father Stephen Duffy of Loyola University, New Orleans.
Among the themes discussed were what salvation is, how it comes about, salvation as a present reality, the means of salvation, whether salvation can be understood as assured, the salvation of those who do not know Christ, and the differences between Catholics and Southern Baptists in their social ministry as it relates to salvation.
For most people, differing views between Catholics and Baptists over the means of salvation may be the most well known contrast between them. For example, the Eucharist and Baptism are not sacraments for Baptists, as they are in Catholicism, and are seen as much less central to salvation.
Participants said the conversation was productive for both Catholics and Baptists as an occasion to clarify differences and to educate one another on what language, practice and faith really mean. There was no attempt at this Conversation to come to a common agreement, or even to present a formal report of the results to the sponsoring bodies. But the hope was expressed that the encounter will provide a service to Baptists and Catholics, who live and work together, marry one another, and provide common Christian witness in communities across the country. Catholics and Baptists are the two largest Christian communities in the United States.
Dr. Paige Patterson, former president of the convention and president of South Eastern Baptist Seminary together with his wife Dorothy, hosted members of the Conversation during the meeting. Dr. Alan Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, shared his experience of Catholic and Protestant conversations on the occasion of the Billy Graham Crusade in that city. Sister Joan Delaney of the Maryknoll Sisters discussed her research on Maryknoll and Southern Baptist collaboration in China during the difficult days of the Second World War.
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