Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Jesus, Pope Francis, and a Protestant Walk into a Bar, by Paul Rock and Bill Tammeus

``Pope Francis has broken new ground, as the first pope from the Southern Hemisphere, but has also brought a new feeling of openness, inclusiveness, and relatebility to the papacy.  He has found admirers and popularity within the Roman Catholic Church as well as among secular and Protestant groups.  Count Paul Rock, pastor of Kansas City, Missouri's Second Presbyterian Church, among Pope Francis's fans.

In his new book Jesus, Pope Francis, and a Protestant Walk into a Bar: Lessons for the Christian Church, which springs from a sermon series Rock and two of his fellow pastors preached at Second Presbyterian, Rock sings the praises of Francis.  I'm not sure Rock has a negative word for the new pope. . . .  The heart of Rock's message is Christian unity, and Francis has certainly reached out to many groups as well.  However, Francis gives no indication that he is ready to acknowledge that Protestant churches are part of the The Church.

I find it interesting that so many Protestants and unbelievers have embraced Pope Francis.  I also find it interesting that Rock and other mainline Christians sound so much more willing to reach out in fellowship to Pope Francis than they are to reach out to their "dumbed down" or "shallow" brethren in more conservative, less stately congregations.

The real subject here is Francis and the Catholics.  I don't disagree that Francis seems like a great guy.  But I don't see that he's bringing Catholics and Protestants together any more than his two most recent predecessors.  Time will tell on that count.  In the meantime, we can learn from Francis as he models the character of Christ and the love of God for all of us.  I love this assessment: "The beauty of what Francis reminds me is that not only does God die for me but God delights in me."  Amen to that.  That is good news for all of us.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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