Anchored in Christ: Beyond the scripture-tradition divide

With the increasingly warm relationship between Catholics and evangelicals, evangelicals in­evitably face this question: Can we consider Catholics—at least some Catholics—to be evangelicals? In other words, is there a species called "the Catholic evangelical"?

One of the main reasons many evangelicals are hesitant to acknowledge that one could legitimately speak of Catholic evangelicals is the belief that Catholics do not share with evangelicals their focus on scripture as the one ultimate source of authority for the church. Catholics hold to two sources of authority: scripture and tradition (Catholics tend to capitalize Tradition, while most evangelicals are reluctant to do so). And since tradition is strictly human interpretation and outworking of divinely given scripture, Catholics would not seem to share evangelicals' concern for the centrality of the Bible.

Yet I will argue that the notion of a "Catholic evangelical" is not a contradiction in terms. In fact, not only should we consider many Catholics to be evangelical, but we should urge many evangelicals to become catholic (lowercase c, to be sure) in order to be true to their claim of being evangelical. My point is that many Catholics hold to an evangelical understanding of the scripture-tradition relationship, while many evangelicals need to recover the role of tradition if they want to be really evangelical.