On December 5th, The Diversity Chronicle posted a blog with the clever title ‘Pope Francis Condemns Racism and declares that “All Religions Are True” At Historic Third Vatican Council’ . People quickly spread the piece via social media, and many—especially Evangelical Christians—attacked the Pope.
The fact that the article was a spoof and not true should serve as a reminder to always research and verify sources, but even more alarming was that so many Christians were seemingly waiting for a reason to blast Pope Francis.
It was as if people wanted an opportunity to turn on the Pope, and this article was the perfect fodder for their distrust. Thus, the story spread and became a viral message of how the Catholic Church was once again spreading a “false Gospel” and that the Pope was probably working in collusion with the AntiChrist.
I must admit that Stephen Mattson is becoming one of my favorite bloggers over at Red Letter Christians. He has an innate ability to stand back and report on things without the usual assumptions and prejudgements. Thinking for yourself in the religious sphere is a task that comes with a lot of criticism. Stephen Mattson certainly does not shy away from saying what he believes and that I very much admire in him.
The quote above struck right at home with me. To understand where I am coming from you should know that I spent the early third of my life as a Catholic. I was an altar boy and went the first seven years of school in a Catholic institution. Like many I dropped away during college and then left entirely after that. I won’t go into the reason for leaving the Catholic church here but looking back it probably had more to do with pitiful management of the local church I was attending than anything else.
After my first and only marriage at the age of forty I joined a Lutheran church and stayed there until I was stripped of membership because of theological differences. I would not refute my belief that he earth is greater than 5,000 year old or believe that the Bible is 100% literal and true.
Having spent a good deal of time in both Catholic and Evangelical churches I can say without a doubt that the antipathy between the two organization runs predominately on the Evangelical side. Yes, I heard growing up as a Catholic that it was the only true religion but that dwarfed when compared what I heard on the Evangelical side. I found that there are indeed many who thoroughly despise the Pope and believe him to be the antiChrist.
I think part of this antipathy comes from the Reformation but I think the bigger part due to a basic theological difference between the two. The Catholic church has always put an emphasis on “works” where as most Evangelical shy very much away from that very concept. Evangelicals for the most part have put being a Christian as “fire insurance”. Say the right words and then go on living your life as you please. Many of my Protestant friends seem too fearful of putting “works”/action at any level into their religious ideology.