Many years ago I was at a fund raiser in Madison Wisconsin for a friend, a single mom whose previous husband was not providing financial support for her and her child. The people who were invited were those who have helped her financially in the past. There were about twelve of us Christians there. During the course of the evening one person mentioned a book on Martin Luther that she had been reading and mentioned the terrible things, such as the selling of indulgences at that time. And so I asked her this question; “was there someone in that book by the name of Tetzel?” And she said “yes, he was the one who was doing it [selling indulgences].” I told her she was correct, but what Tetzel was doing was not Catholic teaching, but an abuse of Catholic teaching. And the Catholic Church spoke against this type of abuse at the council of Trent (1545-1564).
I went on to say that the ongoing confrontation between the Catholic priest, Martin Luther and the Catholic Church was not faith verses works; it was faith and works verses faith alone. Others joined the conversation and then one of them finally came up with the obvious, “Well then you must be Catholic.” And I said, “Yes I am.” In fact, I was the only Catholic in the room. Once they realized I was Catholic, they began to question me in a rather testy fashion; however, I responded to their questions in a nice way. After about ten or fifteen minutes, the man who sponsored the party at his house apologized for the way they were coming across to me. I said, “That’s okay, the reason that Christians are not unified is that we do not properly understand one another.”
The questioning continued for the next two hours, only the questions now were put in a very nice vein. The problems that they had with the Catholic Church for the most part did not have to do with actual Catholic teaching, but non-Catholic misrepresentation of Catholic teaching. As Bishop Sheen once said, "There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church... As a matter of fact, if we Catholics believed all of the untruths and lies which were said against the Church, we probably would hate the Church a thousand times more than they do."
In the end it was an evening that I will never forget. One young man involved in the conversation said “I could talk to you all evening.” I mention this not to blow my horn, but to show how the conversation that was initially antagonistic, changed for the better. It seemed as though the room was filled with the Holy Spirit and love. What started out as a somewhat antagonistic confrontation, turned out to be a wonderful conversation and I felt as though I was friends with every person in that room. Evangelicals have a real faith in Jesus and when confronted with truth, that may be somewhat different from what they are used to, they can often times make an adjustment. This is one of the reasons why I admire Evangelicals.
When I told an Evangelical friend I was writing a book on Christianity, she asked me what the book was about and so I gave her name of it. She then proceeded to ask me what an Evangelical was. Although, I was woefully inadequate to answer that question this is what I told her. Evangelical is a name taken on by a broad range of theological persuasions. Usually they are newer churches, who call themselves nondenominational. They all believe in Jesus, but don’t necessarily believe all the same things about Jesus. For example some reject infant Baptism others accept it. Some believe in “once saved always saved” others are vehemently opposed to this and consider it a false doctrine. Some believe in the gift of tongues while others consider tongues to be of the devil. Some believe in miracles; others believe the time of miracles has passed. There are those who believe that Martin Luther and the other Protestant Reformers were great Holy men of God and other Evangelials who see them as heretics Evangelicals bad as the Catholic Church.
Although I debate Evangelicals frequently on the internet and Facebook, the moment I say this is true about Evangelicals; it could be true about some, but not all. Although, this book is about my experience with Evangelicals; it is also a discussion about the larger Protestant experiment in general.