Tag Archives: Protestant

Pope Francis’ Visit Points to the “Great Divide”


Grand Canyon 01

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.

It’s Not Necessary To Be Catholic To Pray For . . .

Well, color me surprised!

I went home at noon to get a sandwich; what I got was a ringside seat at a historical moment.

I don’t need 24-hour news, and I think our world and our society in particular would be better off without the endless repetition. We talk too much anyway.

But I’d flipped on the TV for about 24 seconds worth of news, just to see what was being endlessly repeated at that particular time.

As it happened, I’d turned on the tube about five minutes before the exact moment when the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI officially went into effect. With millions of others, I watched as the Swiss Guards, for centuries the official guardians of the Pope, stood down and, for the first time in 598 years, a Pope actually resigned.

It’s not necessary to be Catholic to recognize such a moment as hugely significant and historic.

And it won’t be necessary to be Catholic to find what is now beginning, the process of choosing a new Pope, extremely interesting. Along with a good bit of the world, I’ll be watching for the right color of smoke!

It’s not necessary to be Catholic to consider Pope Benedict’s decision to lay down his position and his duties because of his belief that he could no longer perform them at the appropriate level, selfless and impressive.

It’s not necessary to be Catholic to pray that the cardinals now charged with the task of choosing a new Pope will do the job well. May they choose a humble man who will wisely lead the over a billion Catholics under his charge and, by so doing, bless lots of other folks, even Protestant pastors in little West Texas towns.

It’s not necessary to be Catholic—in fact, you can be Protestant like me, which simply means that you “protest” some of the teachings and practices of the Roman Church even though you love many friends who are Catholic—to pray that the sovereign and holy Father of us all will use what is happening in all the world, including the fascinating bit of history being played out right now in Rome, to bring about His glory and further His purposes for all who love Him.

I guess I’m “protest-ant” all the way through, because I see plenty to “protest” in my own tradition, along with a boatload of stuff in modern American mega-consumer religion. Perfect “church” is not a choice in this fallen world. Surprise.

It’s not necessary to be Catholic to pray that many learn from and be blessed by the selfless action of rare leaders, religious and secular, whoever and wherever they are, who choose to lay down power and authority for the good of those under their charge, rather than to hold onto it at all costs.

And if you think Protestant churches don’t desperately need an influx of just that kind of leader, and if you think churches of every brand under the sun haven’t seen more than their share of power plays and could benefit from a big dose of the kind of humility it seems former Pope Benedict has displayed, well, then the new pope won’t be Catholic and chickens have lips.

No, it’s not necessary to be Catholic to pray for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” I figure “earth” includes Rome.


 You’re invited to check out my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!


Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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