Friday, May 16, 2008

Crosswalking Catholicism

You all may be familiar with a Protestant website called Crosswalk. Many people, including myself, use their "Bible Study Tools" for Scripture study because they include various translations of Scripture, along with a wide variety of commentaries, concordances, dictionaries, encyclopedias, lexicons, and other reference works. It really is an amazingly helpful website.

At any rate, I noticed today an article on their homepage entitled, "Why Do Catholics Have a Pope?", by Sarah Jennings ( Family Editor). Of course, that sparked my interest, so I gave it a read. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it was THE most accurate explanation of the papacy by a Protestant that I had ever read! What a relief!!

Honestly, I expected the usual misunderstandings: Catholics worship the pope, the pope thinks he is Jesus on earth, the pope replaces Jesus as head of the Church, everything the pope says is inspired by the Holy Spirit, the pope can do no wrong, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah. Thankfully, Jennings didn't use Jack Chick or James White as her sources. Instead, she consulted the Church's own Catechism and Her own apologists. Check out her bibliography:
  1. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Edition. 1997. Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
  2. Ray, Stephen. 1999. Footnotes in Upon This Rock, 32-40. San Fransisc Ignatius Press.
  3. Joyce, G.H. 1910. “Pope,” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  4. Toner, P.J. 1910. “Infallibility” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  5., 2008.
  6. Archdiocese of Lincoln’s wesbite, 2008. “Ask the Register,”
  7. St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church website, Picayune, Mississippi, 2008. “I’m Glad You Asked!”
  8. Rodriquez, Pedro, “The Papacy and Primacy of Peter,” reprinted on from “The Primacy of the Pope in the Church,” from Catholic Position Papers, September, 1981 -- Japan Edition (
  9. Mirus, Jeffrey, Ph.D. “Papal Infallibility” posted on, (
  10. Kellmeyer, Steve. 2000. Bible Basics, 107-111. Steubenville, OH: Basilica Press.
Pretty impressive list. With these resources, Jennings is able to effectively present:
  • the basic role of the pope,
  • the Catholic interpretation of Mt 16:13-19,
  • the primacy of Peter,
  • the significance Peter's inspired response to Jesus,
  • the significance of the name change,
  • the proper understanding of Peter as "Rock" in relation to Christ,
  • the meaning of the keys in light of Isa 22 (as well as the binding and loosing that comes with them),
  • the nature of papal infallibility, and
  • the pope as "The Servant of the Servants of God."
It's amazing what one can write with just a little intellectual honesty. I am very greatful to Sarah Jennings for her honest presentation of Catholic doctrine.

Unfortunately, the comments left by readers of the article are a return to business as usual:
  • "the Pope does think that he represents Christ on the earth and that he takes the place of the Holy Spirit in the Spiritual life of every Catholic."
  • "The Pope as taught in Catholic schools is the actual representation of Christ here on earth...the actual visible head of the Church because Jesus is in heaven...making him-the Pope equal with Jesus."
  • "do they truly believe in Him-having that personal relationship...I say no...they have more mention of Mother Mary rather than about Jesus [...] Are you not then saying that Christ and Peter are of the same level? well in fact a stone will never become a Rock..."
  • "The whole theology of the Catholic Church and the Apostolic sucession of the Popes of Rome is a lie. It has no Biblical foundation as the Catholics would have us believe. The Bible does not reveal that Peter ever went to Rome."
  • "Believe what you will. It is true the Pope is not God - he only thinks he is. Sacramentalism and the Eucharist will not get you to heaven. Belief and trust in Jesus Christ, the Son of God will."
There also seems to be an amazing inability on behalf of our wise commenters to understand why the article was even written. It's as if has compromised Protestant principles or is somehow in bed w/ the pope. All Sarah set out to do was present the Catholic teaching on the papacy as Catholics understand it. It was an attempt to help Protestants learn more about what Catholics believe about the pope. Yet, somehow her article is "biased," as one commenter put it. That's just absurd, and it shows how many Protestants check their brain at the door as soon as you even mention the papacy.

Despite the glowing example of Jennings, we still have a lot of work to do.

Pax Christi,

[UPDATE: Come to find out, Sarah Jennings is a Catholic! This I think makes the article even more amazing b/c it shows the courage of the Crosswalk editors (all Protestant) who decided to publish it]


  1. As a devout Catholic in the Bible-belt South, this blog has a lot to do with what myself and other Catholics hear on a daily basis. (Refering to the comments posted)

    All we can do is pray. Even when the truth is presented, they think it is a lie. Dialogue is difficult at best.

    It is ignorrance and arrogance, which sadly, from which we all suffer from time to time.

    I pray that Catholics may be an example of the radical love that Jesus calls us to in the Gospels. Through that love for truth and neighbor, and the cooperation with grace to do the Lord's work with the Lord in charge of our lives (never ourselves; yet never forced on us), may our brothers and sisters be set free from the lies they hear by the Truth, in all His glory, in the Church He started on His Rock.

  2. Thanks for your words of encouragement on the piece I wrote for I just wanted to write in to let you know that I am, in fact, a practicing Catholic (a convert from evangelical Protestantism). Like you, I've come across a lot of misunderstandings in regards to the Catholic faith, so I was hoping this piece would help clear some of those up.

    It's worth nothing that I am the only Catholic on the editorial staff here, and ultimately the decision to post this was made by our Protestant executive editor and Faith editor. So, although we did receive some angry comments, I hope you are encouraged to see that other Christians are willing to honestly approach issues like this.

    Thanks again, and God bless!

    Sarah Jennings
    Family Editor,

  3. Today is but another day in the book of days where I'm proud to call Sarah one of my closest friends...

  4. Oh sorry - I meant to say "it's worth noting" instead of "It's worth nothing" - checked my editor skills at the door there. :) Thanks - and you have a great blog!

    God bless,


  5. Thanks Sarah! You're like a celebrity to me now, so I'm honored that you left a comment here. Keep up the good work!


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