How to Find a “Total Bible Church”
HELPFUL HINTS FROM A SUCCESSFUL SHOPPER
Over 450 years ago, Martin Luther told this story as true: A Catholic bishop in Germany was found by one of his priests looking through the Bible with a horrified expression on his face. “Your Reverence,” the priest asked, “what is the matter?” The bishop exclaimed, “What kind of book is this? Everything in it is against us!”
In our age of ecumenism and tolerance, we sometimes forget that what fueled the Reformation was the conviction that the Bible condemned Catholicism. The Reformers saw themselves as re-establishing a lost, Bible-based Christianity. The reason it had been lost was Catholicism, which had so badly perverted the Bible as to become a false religion. When Luther had his German translation of the Bible published, the Book of Revelation included woodcut illustrations of the “Whore of Babylon” wearing the papal tiara. And the frogs shown spewing from the mouth of the dragon represented (so said a footnote) Luther’s most prominent Catholic opponents. John Calvin, for his part, reportedly identified Pope Boniface III as the Anti-Christ.
Today, Protestants faithful to their founders’ intentions still see Catholicism and Christianity as mutually exclusive. Take the 1994 book Far From Rome, Near to God: The Testimonies of 50 Converted Catholic Priests. Its introduction proclaims its thesis: “Old Catholic teaching is the truth, or the Bible is the truth. Both cannot stand.” A Protestant ministry founded in 1999 is called “Ex-Catholics for Christ.” Even among many milder and more fair-minded Protestants there lingers the sense that the Catholic Church opposes — and is opposed by — the Bible. I once invited my sister to attend Mass, but she politely declined: “I only want to go where the Bible is preached.” Evangelical churches overflow with Christians like her — vaguely wary that Rome is unbiblical, and skeptical that much can be found in the Bible to support Catholicism.
This article highlights some of the many biblical verses that strike me as being uniquely fulfilled by Catholicism. Some may seem minor, obscure, or easily overlooked, but perhaps that makes them all the more significant: “Whoever can be trusted in very little can also be trusted in much” (Lk. 16:10). If the Catholic Church proves credible with many less prominent verses, might she not also be worth heeding on bigger issues such as salvation, the papacy, or the Eucharist? I address these hints to all those who may be searching for a fully Bible-based church. (All scriptural quotations are from the New International Version Bible, the leading translation used in evangelical Protestant churches.)
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