Greetings, Everybody! I need some big time help over here! I am a convert to the Catholic faith (since 2000) and I would rate my apologetics as rather novice. And as luck would have it, right now I’m in a little bit of a debate with a Church of Christ pastor! (I’ll keep him nameless for the time being). His church is rather large (especially for a CoC church) in Oklahoma City with probably a few thousand members that attend weekly and probably hundreds more on his mailing list.
My father attends his church everynow and then and is on his mailing list. After the death of Pope John Paul the Great, this is what he sent out this bulletin to all of his members (Note how it starts off rather well, then quickly sours):
TOLERANCE AND TRUTH
In October of 1978, Ruth and I led a group of people on a tour of Bible lands. While in Jerusalem, we stayed in the Notre Dame Hotel. It was operated by the Catholic Church. We received excellent service and the food was very good. Most of the service personnel were nuns. We had a wonderful time.
While we were there, the pope died and a new pope was chosen. It was Pope John Paul II. When the announcement was made, the nuns were all atwitter. Their excitement excited many of our tour members. While we could not fully appreciate the significance of the event for them, it was obvious that it was very meaningful for them. They had no way of knowing this man from Poland would become one of the most popular popes of all time.
I find no inconsistency in considering the church of Rome to be an apostate church and to consider the papacy a great evil and yet recognize the man as a powerful force for good in many areas of life. To say that he was a world figure is to put it mildly.
Why would I consider the institution of the papacy to be evil? It presumes to regard a human being as the head of what they consider to be God’s church. He is regarded as the rightful ruler of the universe. For centuries, kings were crowned by popes. If they displeased him, he could dethrone them.
Would I deny anyone the right to practice without fear of reprisal? By no means. God made us creatures of choice. That does not mean we do not have to face the consequences of our choices.
We must recognize the difference in toleration and approval. If we change people, it must be by persuasion and not by force.
Needless to say, after reading this letter full of nonsense, I was rather upset. I tried to just forget about it, but it bothered me incredibly to think that people would read this letter and really think that Catholics thought the pope was “rightful ruler of the universe”, etc. I couldn’t sleep at night! So a few days later, I sent him this letter. Basically, I told him that his bulletin was full of errors and tried to point them out as best I could in a kind manner.
He then wrote me back and said that he had proof and documentation for all of his statements that he would be happy to send me. To which, I agreed and asked if I could see it, which I received in the mail yesterday. You can click here to view all of his documentation. That is where we are in the debate as of now.