A reader writes…
I came to your website with no small amount of fear and trepidation, but I must admit, I enjoyed some of your articles. Very well written & thought provoking. (Ref., especially, to Apollos, Priscilla, Aquila and the Glory of Epocrisy)
We seemed to have a parallel but opposing path of faith: I am an Evangelical who was raised Roman Catholic, but left. No need to get into the reasons, as I am as unwilling to get into the “my religion’s better than yours” quagmire as I am the “come home” diatribe. Suffice it to say that I was a Catholic, and am now an Evangelical, longer than you were either, and if there is one thing that I have learned over the years is that the polemics on both sides of this debate are so well worn that anyone with an ounce of brain can soon master them well enough to argue either side convincingly. Bottom like is that I will never embrace Roman Catholicism, and I suspect you’ll never go back to being an Evangelical. ‘Nuff said.
I have to say that I take far less offense at sincere Roman Catholics, such as yourself, than I do with so-called Evangelical leaders like James Dobson or convicted felon Chuck Colson, who seem more than willing to grovel at the feet of a Pontiff for the sake of the furtherance of their own political agenda. That is a ‘dialogue’ born out of a lust for political power that I can neither respect nor agree with. No, I believe that there is indeed a fence between our camps, and I for one am glad there is. Good fences can make for good neighbors, if for no other reason than they clearly define undeniable boundaries. We are what we are, and to ignore our differences is to ignore reality.
Anyway, enough rambling here…just wanted to wish you a merry Christmas and best wishes.
Thanks for your kind words about the articles, but why did you feel fear and trepidation?
As to the rest, I don’t think debate will do much good since it’s apparent your mind is made up. But I would make a plea for some basic justice in your attitude toward your fellow Evangelicals. You might not realize it, but you just indulged in “my religion’s better than yours” polemics there. You did it, not with Catholics, but with Evangelicals “who should know better” rather than us poor papists who don’t have the benefit of enlightenment. FWIW, neither Dobson nor Colson (indeed, especially not Colson) have grovelled at any Pontiff’s feet. They have made intelligent alliances with people whom they disagree with on some points of theology in order to save the lives of innocent children. That is, they realize the 16th Century is over and the 21st century (featuring dead-baby-eating Chinese artists who claim to be Christian, cloning, abortion, and the overwhelming power of the culture of death) is the real battleground. You can insult them (“convicted felon” is a nice ad hominem that ignores the gospel of grace and redemption Evangelicals like you are supposed to uphold in contrast to the alleged “works based righteousness” of us papists. Remember?) Or you can drag yourself out of the 16th century and face the fact that there is a much bigger gulf between virtually any serious Judeo-Christian theist and the culture of death than there is between Catholics and Protestants.
Neither Colson nor Dobson ignore the differences between Catholics and Evangelicals. They just don’t let them paralyze them. At the last Judgment, we know for certain that Jesus will commend those who fought to protect “the least of these”. We don’t have any assurances that he will say, “Well done! You had nothing to do with those Catholics! So what if a few million babies were killed when it was in your power to help stop it. You remained theologically pure and did not form any political alliances with papists! Ritual impurity from contact with the unclean is what really matters to Me!”
At any rate, Merry Christmas. But do rethink your willingness to get your hands dirty by dealing with us papists. They were, after all, the ones who pretty much started the prolife movment in the US and they held it together until Evangelicals finally figured out, in the late 70s (years after Roe) that abortion was a grave sin. If you don’t believe it, check out Souls, Bodies, Spirits by Dr. Kerry Jacoby, an Evangelical who has chronicled the abortion struggle in the US. Evangelicals, burdened by anti-Catholic prejudice, were slow and late to discover what an evil abortion was, treating it as a “Catholic issue”. Thank God for Francis Schaeffer (another Evangelical who dirtied his hands by recognizing in the Catholic Church a powerful ally in the struggle to protect innocent human life).