What We Share
Protestants and Catholics have some irreconcilable disagreements, and we don’t want to downplay those disagreements on matters of soteriology, on matters of ecclesiology. We need to really be clear on what those differences are.
At the same time, when we go and look at the Reformation, it was not really fought—or the lines really weren’t drawn—around matters of ethics. They were drawn around matters of soteriology and ecclesiology, meaning that five hundred years later there is a lot of overlap in the convictions that Protestants and Catholics have on a lot of deeply controversial moral and ethical issues in our society.
So I think a lot of individuals have come up with this term called co-belligerency, meaning that we don’t see ourselves necessarily in communion with each other as far as our churches are concerned, but that we have shared concerns about what the common good is—about what society ought to look like.
We do have minimal agreements on perhaps the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed, and so we’re willing to work together on those kind of grounds, but we’re not willing to consider ourselves going to church with each other because we do have those pronounced disagreements. But pronounced disagreements aside on those issues that are absolutely necessary for humanity to thrive—life, liberty, the protection of marriage, religious liberty—we can link arms because we’re ultimately all striving after the same end, which is the just society, which is the common good, which is a society where every single human being and every single institution of society is able to thrive as we believe God has called them to thrive.
Andrew T. Walker is the author of Social Conservatism for the Common Good: A Protestant Engagement with Robert P. George.
How should Christians think about political disagreements within the church and how much should politics be shared from the pulpit?
I am a political conservative myself and I’ll fully admit that there are aspects of political conservatism today that gain acceptance under the umbrella of political conservatism that I am wary to adopt.
The common good is such an important concept because it helps us understand that when we are pursuing the welfare of the city, we're not looking out for our self-interest alone.
Dr. Robert P. George and Dr. Andrew Walker talk together about religious liberty, the common good, and the true heart of conservatism.