By Robeck, Cecil M., Jr.
International Bulletin of Missionary Research , Vol. 31, No. 1
Evangelical Theological Perspectives on Post-Vatican II Roman Catholicism. By Leonardo De Chirico. Bern, Switz.: Peter Lang, 2003. Pp. 337. SFr 87 / euro55.70 / £39 / $66.95.
The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) brought hope that a review and updating of Catholic thinking on a variety of important issues might bring about a new rapprochement between the Vatican and other Christians. Since 1965 that rapprochement has become evident in many ways, but nowhere more so than in the many bilateral dialogues that have emerged between the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and other Christian families. In addition to many dialogues with historic churches, the pontifical council has also undertaken dialogues with Pentecostals (since 1972), a dialogue on mission with evangelicals (1977-84), and, more recently, periodic consultations with the World Alliance of Evangelicals (intermittent since 1993). Significant strides such as the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, signed by representatives of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation on Reformation Sunday in 1999, and the July 2006 signing of an agreement on justification by Catholics, Lutherans, and the Methodist World Council offer further hope to those with evangelical interests.
Leonardo De Chirico's volume is the reworking of a Ph.D. dissertation he completed at Kings College, London, in 2003. He is a native Italian and an evangelical who stands squarely within the Reformed tradition. As director of the Institute of Evangelical Formation and Documentation in Padua, Italy, he identifies with the institute's commitment that rejects "the form of unity promoted both by the Roman Catholic church and by the Ecumenical Movement" (www. ifeditalia.org). This position probably represents the thinking of most Protestants in Italy, many of whom have experienced or heard compelling testimonies of religious persecution and marginalisation that they attribute to Rome. It thus is not surprising that De Chirico provides a stinging critique of much of the work that has been undertaken by evangelicals in dialogue with the Catholic Church. …