Pope Benedict XVI Comes to America
© 04.22.08 By D. Eric Williams

This article appeared in the April 24 edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle

Pope Benedict XVI recently completed his first visit to the United States and there is every indication his stay was a "triumph." Well received by Roman Catholics and non-Catholics alike, Pope Benedict has been called the "first American Pope" by some in light of his encouraging words and evident love for this nation. Yet the Holy Father did not mince words when forceful language was needed. For instance, at an April 18th ecumenical service Pope Benedict said "there are signs that some Christians are taking the same ‘relativistic approach' to doctrine that many modern people take to moral and ethical values in general. Christians cannot pretend that there is no such a thing as Christian truth. The Christian faith is not a matter of picking and choosing what to believe and what to discard from the Scriptures and Christian tradition."

In other words, the Christian Faith is not a feel good philosophy; it is founded on unchanging truth and demands our undivided allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not free to shape Christianity according to our "felt needs" or personal preferences but are enjoined to be transformed by the Gospel. Unfortunately when individual Christians conclude they are the final arbiter of truth they become unwilling to submit to the Word of God and end up seeking "communities which often eschew institutional structures and minimize the importance of doctrinal content for Christian living," said the Pope.

The reason many Christians follow the path of feel good religion is because they are unwilling to deal with their inborn self centeredness. They look for a religion which is easily compartmentalized so their selfish needs are met while they side-step the biblical requirement of a whole life transformation. However, these views are not compatible with Christ's command to daily take up our cross and follow Him. Rather than seek to conveniently fill a void in our life with a "little bit of religion" we are called to surmount "every separation between faith and life and (counter) the false gospels of freedom and happiness," said Benedict. "It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political life and ... working to enrich American society and culture" as well as "never losing sight of that great hope (of life in Jesus Christ) which gives meaning and value to all other hopes which inspire our lives."

Unless we are willing to bring our life and sphere of influence under the authority of Jesus Christ we will find it impossible to get our own act together, let alone "enrich American society and culture." One of the things Pope Benedict made clear – and something I agree with – is that Christianity is a practical religion. It is not about pie in the sky dreaming or self centered naval gazing. Instead, Christianity is about "whole life" submission to the One who saved us from our sins by His perfect sacrifice. It is about the joy that comes from orderly and stable homes where the objective standard of God's word is taken seriously. Indeed, our Faith is about towns and cities, counties, states and even nations transformed by the Gospel of Christ – one household at a time.

There are plenty of folks who have nothing good to say about the Pope's visit to this country, but I'm glad that Benedict came to the U.S.A. His forthright stand for the Christian Faith is a refreshing change from the wishy-washy, politically correct "belief" promoted by many religious leaders in America. Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants alike are well served to consider his example.

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