After having an unexpected 12 min "urgent" video message from our GC Religious Liberty director, I felt the need to give a balanced response. I agreed with a lot of what he said, though not in how he said it. And I've a continued negative reaction to the word "urgent" on this topic.
So I just got done sharing an article for our church newsletter. This is mainly for those not on the internet as much, and often with a more traditional Adventist view. But I've decided to share it here. It is far from exhaustive on this topic, and yes, I am walking a very fine line that often ends up with me having a foot in different camps. But here it is.
As I write this, the Pope is landing in the US. Many of us have views on this, but let’s not forget that he is the spiritual leader to nearly 70 million people here in the USA. And we have scripture telling us to be careful how we treat people’s spiritual leaders - even if we disagree with what they are saying.
Let me share some scriptures:
But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. I Corinthians 8.9 (you’ll have to decide if the context fits) - -plus I Corinthians 1.23 is important in this topic too…
John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us. But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me - Mark 9.38 & 39
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. John 10.16
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Matthew 23.23 ~ And by the way, at the moment, the Pope is becoming a popular Pope by speaking out more and more on this topic.
And remember, if we believe and follow Biblical prophecy, we should not be surprised or alarmed. Read these words from Jesus in this context: "And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ Luke 8.9 & 10.
Of course there are other scriptures that we look to that warn us about people who claim to speak for Christ, but don’t. False prophets, the beast, and false Christ’s. But even here, I urge you to move beyond the temptation to look for specifics, rather, studying the scriptures, seeing what God is warning us of. Any organized religion can go beyond ministry to protect itself. Even our own.
And as I mentioned this last Sabbath, I will continue to try and protect this congregation from Advertising and Politics (country and religious). Believing (as our denomination supports) in the separation of church and state. So some of us will get queazy at the sight of the leader of 70 million Catholics sitting with the President, addressing Congress and the United Nations.
But, to my flock here in Merced I say - “fear not” for God is with us, and in control.