This is interesting, to say the least …
In January 2014, Bishop Palmer gained notoriety after Pope Francis sent him as a special envoy to a Charismatic Evangelical Leadership Conference hosted by Kenneth Copeland. During the conference, Bishop Palmer presented a short video message from the Pope. Bishop Tony and Pope Francis were personal friends. The message was recorded when the two met a week prior to the Kenneth Copeland Ministries leaders conference. Pope Francis suggested the recording and it was recorded on Tony Palmer’s iPhone. The message is one of brotherhood, unity and love. A declaration that the Reformation protest has ended. At the end of the presentation and video message, Copeland prayed for the Pope and recorded his own message back to the Pope. Bishop Tony Palmer died on Sunday 20th July, 2014, after injuries sustained in a motorbike accident.
I do not believe that I am related to Kenneth Copeland unless it is through some common ancestor in Scotland in the 1200’s or 1300’s. I also do not identify with his ministries which have been tainted with questions of possible financial improprieties. Neither do I presume to judge him or his ministries although I do find his style of preaching not to be my prefered style.
All that aside, Tony Palmer fascinates me. He had a Catholic wife and their children were raised Catholic. Yet, he was a charismatic Episcopal Bishop who has worked in Roman Catholic circles. I like his statement … “Diversity is Divine. Division is diabolical.” I “preach” that a lot as I firmly believe that we should celebrate our diversity and learn from it while freely sharing God’s gifts and His love. As stated in the video, for all practical proposes in 1999 the Catholic and Lutheran churches agreed on the doctrine of Justification of faith which was the prime reason for Martin Luther’s split and this essentially resolves the conflict over the nature of justification which was at the root of the Protestant Reformation. The document was later ratified by the Methodists.
I don’t understand why this agreement has not been more generally promulgated and why it hasn’t been the seed of general unity. I don’t envision a return to one united Christian Church under a single leadership. I doubt that will ever happen. But we should be able to respect each other as working toward the same goal as United Christians. We should be able to unite around our common beliefs and it could be done if not for the diabolical divisions which are the result of misunderstandings and misinformation or just, if you will, unimportant window dressing. It is not important how you worship as long as you do.
Of the misunderstandings, Confession to a Priest was mentioned in the interview as a “problem” with the Roman Church. Why? Confession can be therapeutic and is a way of humbling ourselves. However, it is not mandatory and never has been. We, as Catholics are not too receive Communion while in the state of serious sin and so we should reconcile with God through confession in order to receive. But it is also a matter of conscience that determines our state of sin and I personally don’t know anyone who is in that kind of trouble.
Some say that we idolize the saints. But, we idolize them no more than the average sports fan idolizes a star quarterback or exceptional basketball player or swimmer or anyone who has won an Olympic medal. We look to them in awe of their accomplishments and for inspiration. We hope to emulate them and since they apparently have a connection to God, we ask them to intercede for us.
Probably the most misunderstood is the Catholic devotion to Mary … The Mother of God. That just sends some people off on a tangent to places unknown. But why do we give her that title? We’ll start with Jesus. If we are Christians we do accept Jesus as both human and divine and the two are an inseparable One. As a human, Jesus’ mother was Mary. But, if Mary is the mother of Jesus, she must be the mother of God because Jesus is both human and divine. It is that simple. No, she is not a God, nor did she exist before god. (Mary Ball was the mother of the first president of the United states, George Washington. She was not a president. She was the mother of a president.) But why is she so revered? Well, she is the rock star of all saints. As a young, unmarried girl she was told that, if she accepted, she would become the virgin mother of a Savior of the world and she trusted God and accepted the assignment. She was the first follower of Christ and his biggest fan. That took a lot of trust in God and a lot of bravery. It is that simple. She, of all people knew she was not God nor any where equal to Him. We admirer her for her faith and devotion.
And then there is the subject of belief based in both the Bible and Tradition. There were Christians before there was a bible and the Bible rose from their traditions so how can you throw away tradition? Yes, the bible was inspired by God but not dictated word for word by God. If it was, how would there be four different gospels describing the life of Christ with so many differing details. The Truth of the Bible lies in its message and it is that message which was inspired. But, of course that is an argument that can go on until we are able to ask God Himself for the answer. My theory is that early protestants were so anti-pope that they grasped at the idea of a perfect Bible to prove that they didn’t need a pope or anyone else. But that is only my theory.
Getting down to basics, lets talk about “The Message”. That is the only thing that is important. Do we abide by Jesus’ message of love of God and each other? If we do, then we are Christians. Everything else is just window dressing or even distraction. Religious organizations are human devices intended to aid us in our need to find God and His ways. As such, all are imperfect, as are we. I invite you to read ” How Could I Go Back” which tells why I am a Catholic in relationship to the faults in my church.
I also invite you to “Hearts Open To the Spirit“.