Pope Francis is here. By “here,” I mean, in the U.S.A. By “is,” I mean right now as I write on the first day of autumn 2015. I pray that his visit is a blessing.
What? You’re surprised that a Protestant pastor would pray for the Pope? Why wouldn’t I? His leadership and decisions affect over a billion people. Yes, I am a Protestant, meaning basically that I “protest,” as in, “am not comfortable with,” some beliefs and practices of Roman Catholicism; but, by the way, I also “protest” plenty in the religious tradition in which I was born, and some folks there would certainly “protest” me. Forgive me if I smile and see some balance here.
Okay, back to the Pope.
I don’t think Pope Francis is planning to visit our Grand Canyon, but he’ll certainly be visiting face to face a far bigger canyon, one he deals with every day.
You see, one of the largest and deepest “divides” in our world centers on authority and the nature of truth. People on each side of that canyon seem almost completely incapable of understanding folks on the other side.
Most people, at least in the western world, and virtually all of the mainstream media, cannot understand how anyone, from the most common worshiper to the Pope himself, can believe in a standard of truth and authority that comes from beyond themselves and is not open to change, no matter how they feel about it.
Our society looks at opinion polls and the latest trends for what it believes. Even a majority of the Supreme Court justices seem to like that approach these days with the Constitution. It’s very nice if you find yourself and your own opinions in line with the most recent and most popular polls and trends.
This Pope is well liked. Polls show that most Americans in general have a “generally favorable” opinion of him. Me, too. (I could wish he’d say less about climate change and more about the slaughter of the unborn.)
The fact is, he and I, and anyone who believes that truth is rooted in an unchangeable God and not in polls and trends, stand on the same side of the canyon. We may disagree on which truths are unchangeable, which the Bible attests to, and what place church tradition plays. But, strange companions though we may be, folks like the Pope as head of the Catholic Church, and Pastor Billy Bob down at First Protestant Megaplastic Megachurch, and anyone who believes in a divine standard of truth, are on the opposite side of the canyon from folks who seem to think that as soon as an opinion poll shows that most folks would like the sun to rise in the west, or would prefer fifteen wives, then, well, let’s just make it so.
So the Pope is always assailed by folks who don’t understand why he doesn’t just modernize and get up to date with the majority of popular opinion since the majority is always right, right?
But the Pope, and many Christians, many who differ with him hugely on some points, share this belief in common: What is true, what is right, is rooted in an unchanging God. That which is most genuinely and deeply true in the universe God created will never change because He will never change. No matter what I think about it.
You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!
Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.