After hearing so many of our politicians try to deftly finesse and coyly nuance themselves into so many murky, equivocal shades of grey, wasn’t it great to hear a man of principle and conviction speak last week with clarity on a moral issue of great importance to so many people?
While aboard the papal plane in route to Brazil, Benedict was asked about the Mexican bishops who were threatening to excommunicate the Catholic politicians who voted in favor of legalizing abortion in Mexico City.
Benedict said, "Yes, this excommunication was not an arbitrary one but is allowed by Canon law which says that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving communion, which is receiving the body of Christ…They (Mexican Church leaders) did nothing new, surprising or arbitrary. They simply announced publicly what is contained in the law of the Church...which expresses our appreciation for life and that human individuality, human personality is present from the first moment (of life).” He said those who vote in favor of abortion have “doubts about the value of life and the beauty of life and even a doubt about the future…Selfishness and fear are at the root of (pro-abortion) legislation…We in the Church have a great struggle to defend life...life is a gift not a threat.”
Pope Benedict, God bless him, drew a line in the sand on abortion. How refreshing to hear a Christian leader do so.
According to the Pope, Catholic politicians who vote in favor of abortion should not receive communion and they risk excommunication from the Church. According to Church law, anyone who knowingly commits or allows a grave sin, such as abortion, inflicts “automatic excommunication” upon themselves.
I’d love to hear some Protestant Benedicts speak with such clarity.
But, where are the pulpits of men with conviction and principle eager to take politically incorrect stands?
Where are those men with chests who fear God more than men?
Where are those pastors who care more about their faithfulness to the Biblical text than they do about filling their pews and the next building program?
Where are the Bible colleges and seminaries who teach such things?
What are the denominations that still care about such things?
Who are the radio and television ministries who regularly address such things?
They are so rare.
Which is why I am so proud of Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church, even though I’m not Catholic.
It is as though Benedict said – and I wish more churches spoke this way – “This is who we are and what we believe. We’ve been this way for centuries and we’re not about to bend to the latest cultural winds. If you don’t like it, go elsewhere. You must believe what we believe in order to join us. We will not adapt to you, you must adapt to us. The Bible is the Word of God. Salvation is only in Jesus Christ. Divorce is wrong. Homosexuality is sin. Abortion is murder. If you don’t believe these things, you can’t make the team.”
With the Protestant Reformation came many good things, but not among them was the loss of accountability. In the Catholic Church, you get out of line and refuse to get back in, you’re booted out. In Protestantism, you don’t like the way things are going, you just leave and start your own denomination or plant your own church down the street. Anyone with a 501c3 can hang out a shingle and call themselves a church these days. There’s no accountability at all.
There was a time in which vows, oaths, creeds, confessions, covenants, doctrinal statements, and statements of faith actually meant something. They were the core values of the church, denomination, college, or seminary. They were the sine qua non for membership or admission.
Not any more.
I doubt if most people who go to church even know what their statement of faith even says.
I doubt if most Catholics and Protestants even know what the original protest was all about.
Let alone, getting a handle on “Why all the denominations?”
Basic words just don’t mean anything anymore.
Consider “evangelical” and “Christian.” These two words have become so diluted, so misapplied, that they are almost no longer useful, even in combination. They communicate almost nothing. Which is why a whole host of qualifiers are necessary to distinguish proper usage from those who have hijacked the term.
For example, if I said “I’m Catholic,” you could legitimately assume I’m pro-life and against gay marriage.
But, if I just said, “I’m an evangelical Christian,” you don’t know. I could be both gay and pro-choice.
Which is why I would need to say, “I’m a born-again, Bible-believing, pro-life, pro-family, pro-American, pro-capitalism, pro-gun, politically-socially-and fiscally conservative, evangelical Christian.”
It’s sad that the word “Christian” carries far less punch than the word “Catholic.”
Maybe it’s because the standard for admission is so low, basically, “Jesus, help!”? Yes, that may explain why it is so easy for an individual to call themselves a Christian, but that doesn’t explain why pastors, denominational leaders, and college presidents are not held to far higher levels of accountability.
As far as some Protestant Benedicts?
I know a few, their last names are Dobson, Mohler, Swindoll, Stanley, and MacArthur.