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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Debt I Owe


In May of this year, Pope Francis once again appealed to the Church for Christian unity. Like Saint (Pope) John Paul II, or Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI before him, Pope Francis recognizes the Satanic root of our division.  Here is part of what Pope Francis said:*

The devil “knows that Christians are disciples of Christ, that they are one, that they are brothers! He doesn’t care if they are Evangelicals or Orthodox, Lutherans, Catholics or Apostolic … he doesn’t care! They are Christians.”
He added, “I feel like saying something that may sound controversial, or even heretical, perhaps, but there is someone who ‘knows’ that, despite our differences, we are one. It is [Satan] who is persecuting us. It is he who is persecuting Christians today, he who is anointing us with (the blood of) martyrdom.”
Pope Francis continued, “Division is the work of the ‘Father of Lies,’ ‘the Father of Discord,’ who does everything possible to keep us divided.” “Division is a wound in the body of the church of Christ. And we do not want this wound to remain open.” 
And so, in the spirit of Pope Francis’ plea for unity among all Christians I write about my debt to evangelical Protestants for my Catholic faith. It is my hope that my brothers and sisters in Christ on both sides of the theological aisle will soon realize the immeasurable gifts each group brings to the entire Body of Christ. 

The Debt I Owe
By Richard Maffeo


As I do every morning, I closed my bible and began talking with the Lord. But a few days ago, before I settled into our discussion, my mind took me on an excursion over the more than 40 years of my walk with Christ. I’ve learned a lot in those decades, and the Holy Spirit reminded me my life today in Christ was not formed in a vacuum. 

I am today an evangelical Catholic Christian only because of the godly Protestant men and women I met along my faith journey. Much of what I know today about God I learned first at their feet.

From them I learned of the life-changing value and ineffable worth of consistent reading and meditating on God’s word. I learned the critical importance of researching through the Scriptures to verify if the things I was learning were true. I learned to practice a consistent prayer-life, to quickly confess and turn from my sin, and to seek daily to please my Lord Jesus.

I learned all those things from Protestant servants of God such as US Navy chaplains Curt Brannan, Billy Dodson, and Henry Shimozono; From missionaries Erv and Elsie Meyer, and Mom and Pop Sturgeon; From radio preachers and teachers such as J. Vernon McGee, Billy Graham, and Brother Lester Roloff; From Christ-centered pastors such as Phil Wannenmacher, Bill Kolb, Mark Slompka, Bruce Kuhlman, and Ron Gauss; From Bible college and seminary teachers like Stan Horton, Charles Harris, Opal Reddin, and Tom Harrison.

The names and faces of dozens more men and women drift into the fuzzy areas of my memory, but their words and lives remain razor-sharp and have molded me into the Christian I am today – a Catholic who loves the Church, who loves prayer, and the Scriptures, and who has determined to obey God and follow Him wherever He leads.

Oh, Holy Spirit of God! Melt the hearts of your children throughout the Body of Christ with the fire of Your love. Destroy the divisions we have cultivated, and rebuild Christ-centered unity among us, unity we destroyed through pride, and ignorance, and self-righteousness arrogance. Oh, Lord, forgive us. Oh, Lord, heal us. For Christ’s blessed sake, Please.

Amen.

*You can find the article reporting on Pope Francis’ remarks here: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2015/05/25/the-devil-knows-christians-are-one-says-pope-francis/

4 comments:

Shira garnett said...

Thanks so much for this share. I grow up methodist. When I was grown I choose the ecclesiastical non denominational church. As my walk with God has increased in wisdom and knowledge, I can honesty say, I feel quite at home with the Lutheran church. I'm a christian. Blessings to you always.

Rich Maffeo said...

And to you, Shira. Thanks for telling us of your own walk with Christ.

Barb Schoeneberger said...

I know many devout evangelical Christians and find them always an inspiration. What we have in common is a love of God and a desire to do His will. For all of us, the three Persons of the Holy Trinity are real and we seek a deeper relationship with all of them. As a devout Catholic, my prayer is to have all my Christian brethren some day be able to partake of the boundless graces of the sacraments Jesus instituted. "That all may be one as Thou, Father, in Me and I in Thee; that they all may be one in Us...". This beautiful prayer of Jesus is one we should pray whenever we think of it.

Rich Maffeo said...

Barb, I am convince the first step toward unity is being willing to listen with an open mind and heart to each other, instead of entering the conversation with an agenda of converting the other to 'our way of thinking.' I think that is what stands out for me the most about Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Francis. They each knew their positions, but were willing to extend an open hand of fellowship to those who also had the right to be called Christians. As we find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1271 Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among all Christians, including those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church: "For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. Justified by faith in Baptism, [they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church." "Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn."

rich