Many years ago I was at a fund raiser in Madison Wisconsin for a single mom. Her previous husband was not providing financial support for her and her child and the people invited were those who have helped her in the past. There were about twelve Evangelical Christians there and myself. During the course of the evening one person mentioned a boo...k 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 a 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 Church teaching, but an abuse of Church 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. There were others who 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. At this point, once they realized I was Catholic, they began to question me in a very testy fashion. I responded to their questions answering 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 because we do not properly understand one another.”
The questions continued for the next two hours, only the questions now were put in a very nice way. The problems that they had with the Catholic Church did not have to do with actual Catholic teaching, but non-Catholic teaching that some, over the years, have tried to put upon the Church. 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 a wonderful evening; one that I will never forget as long as live. One young man said “I could talk to you all evening”. It was as though the room was thick with the Holy Spirit. And when I left that party, I was friends with ever person in that room. Do I think that Evangelicals are wonderful? Yes, I do think that Evangelicals are wonderful Christian People, even if they don’t always have the best of attitudes about my Church. Evangelicals have a real faith in Jesus and when confronted with truth can often times make a change that is necessary. This is why I admire Evangelicals. Although I have never been Evangelical I have always had friends who were Evangelicals.
I have a friend (Evangelical) and when I told her I was writing a book on Christianity, she asked me what the book was about and so I gave her name of it. She proceeded to ask 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 call themselves non-denominational. 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.
Although I debate Evangelicals frequently on the internet, the moment I say this is true about Evangelicals; I am telling the truth about some Evangelicals and it would not necessarily true of others. Although, this book is about my discussions with Evangelicals; it is also a discussion about the larger Protestant experiment in general.