Few events generate the coverage we’ve seen over the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Almost every media outlet has been talking about the retirement of the old Pope and the coming installation of a new. Even sports call in shows have featured the Roman drama. When Christians hear Catholics talking about the Pope how should we respond?
The Papacy is False
The official Catholic dictionary defines the pope this way:
“The title pope… is at present employed solely to denote the Bishop of Rome, who, in virtue of his position as successor of St. Peter, is the chief pastor of the whole Church, the Vicar of Christ upon earth.”
It’s beyond the scope of our article to go into detail but we would note that the office of the Pope is not found in Scripture in any form. No pastor/bishop/elder is ever said to be chief over the others and the idea that the Pope is a successor to the apostle Peter is unsustainable.
Indeed, any comparison between the present Roman Catholic Church and the original church is a study in sharp contrasts. We cannot support the idea of a common man has the head of the church. There is but one head of the church and that is Jesus (; ; ).
We Must Not “Bash” Catholics
Many, if not most, Catholics have been raised in their faith and have not been taught to study the Scriptures. The training of the church is the final answer for spiritual questions. Those who are so raised are excellent opportunities for teaching. The bulk of Catholics are outstanding people who love God and desire to live according to his direction.
One who uses the current newsworthy events as a pretext for insult ought to consider how Jesus and the apostles dealt with those who practiced false religion. Our Lord called them to the truth without insult. Paul taught idol worshippers with kindness ().
Instead of insulting, let us draw people to the truth of Scripture and the glorious direct relationship with have with Jesus.
For some, any questioning or disagreement with another’s faith is bashing. It is not. We can and must seek to always share the truth with people who have been deceived.
Be Thankful for Opportunities
In Jesus told the church of Philadelphia that he had set before them an “open door which no one is able to shut.” The events in Rome may provide just such an open door. The complexity and bureaucracy of the Roman Catholic Church and the exaltation of a mere mortal to a position of such extreme power and authority may cause some to wonder of this truly a work of God.
But being thankful for opportunities is not the same as acting upon them. When our friends begin to speak of the new leader let us listen kindly and gently lead toward truth. People who are truly seeking God will gladly welcome offers of study. Be the one who leads another to truth!
Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at bryantevans.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.
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22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, (ESV)
23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. (ESV)
18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. (ESV)
16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.
22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (ESV)
8 “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. (ESV)