Why Attila the Hun Would Have Sacked a Protestant Rome
AN "INVISIBLE CHURCH" JUST DOESN'T HACK IT
Baltimore, 1981: The foremost Protestant evangelist of this century, Billy Graham, sponsors a crusade. Churches across Maryland co-operate to an unprecedented degree to host his visit. Newspaper and television ads summon the unchurched. I am one of thousands of evangelicals who volunteer gladly to help the crusade. (Years earlier I had prayed the Sinner’s Prayer from one of Dr. Graham’s books, and my life had truly been changed.) Crusade week sees Memorial Stadium well attended, but empty seats are not scarce. News outlets give polite overviews of what is happening down on 33rd Street. But the city seems to proceed with its commerce and its mayhem as usual, and the population at large pays mild attention at best to the critical truths about Jesus Christ, sin, and salvation proclaimed by Protestantism’s most famous voice.
Baltimore, 1995: This evangelical finds himself in a stadium again, amidst another crowd, awaiting another renowned Christian personality. But the scarcity of tickets for the event is so acute as to be front-page news. Local television stations cover the event live all day. Fifty thousand people fill the stadium and seven times that number line the streets to glimpse his motorcade, reportedly the largest crowd ever to assemble in Baltimore. The most proabortion federal administration in history has sent Vice President Gore to listen while this Christian condemns abortion. The thoroughly secular Washington Post is printing the complete text of his sermon, along with pages of articles covering every facet of his visit. The Baltimore Sun is publishing a special edition commemorating the day.
Why does a metropolis that mostly ignored Billy Graham’s week-long crusade come to a halt for a 12-hour visit by Pope John Paul II? How could a coalition of all the born-again churches in Maryland be so outdrawn by a bunch of Catholics (who constitute only about 17 percent of Marylanders, clearly below the average percentage of Catholics in the U.S.)? The answer: The Pope’s Church obeys the biblical command to oneness that Protestant churches inherently repudiate.
To evangelicals, it’s absurd to ask if Catholicism is more Bible-based than they. If it weren’t for my marriage, I never would have seen that the question is a good one; and the answer made me become a Catholic.
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