Thursday, May 12, 2016

Jesus, Pope Francis, and a Protestant Walk into a Bar

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So Jesus, the pope, and a Protestant walk into a bar. The bartender asks, "What will it be today?" As the pope reaches for his wallet, Jesus winks at his companions and say to the bartender, "Just three glasses—and keep the pitchers of water coming."
Presbyterian Paul Rock is a Pope Francis fanboy and consistently uses examples of papal humility, poverty, and Christlike love as a springboard for promoting Christian dialogue and ecumenism. This author's heart is in the right place but that isn't enough to make this book appeal across denominational lines.

These chapters began life as a sermon series … and it shows both in good and bad ways. The author's enthusiasm and ability to promote religious harmony is evident. It can be very inspiring.

However, Rock's drive to make a point is so rapid that it often only skims the surface, occasionally in a way that may leave various Christians (and certainly this Catholic) confused or indignant. In some cases this is a good opportunity to strive to ignore what divides us, but surely a better way would have been to educate both sides about each other's reasons.

A better way would be the example set by How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice: Civil Responses to Catholic Hot-Button Issues. They are careful to examine what the thinking is on the "opponent's" side before laying out the explanations and reasoning that inform Catholic teachings. The result is that both sides may agree to disagree, but they understand why each thinks what they do and can respect those opinions.

Paul Rock's drive to unity feels forced precisely because he overlooks the many valid reasons people may have for not agreeing with another denomination's teachings. It is fine to promote ecumenism and, indeed, praiseworthy. This effort feels somewhat slapdash and is as likely to raise hackles as to smooth them.

This was a NetGalley review copy which obviously didn't influence my opinion.

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