As dean of the Christianity Today Institute, I am often reminded of the ancient joke about deans: A dean is a person who is too bright to be president, but not bright enough to be a faculty member. I have a better definition, however: A dean is a person who does all the school’s dirty work so the faculty can have fun teaching.

However, if you have to be dean of anything, being dean of the CT Institute is the best of all possible deanships. The CT staff does the lion’s share of the work—and I’m the one who gets to interact with sharp minds on topics of personal interest to me and critical importance to the church.

But then, I also get to write editorials for the institute (and periodically for this magazine) that draw both the ire and enthusiasm of you, the reader. That’s not dirty work, to be sure—but effort more often than not guaranteed to turn up the heat.

It is amazing how sharply CT readers respond to those editorials. And among the most severe and caustic letters I have received are those that came in response to my recent pieces on Roman Catholicism, the pope, and the Virgin Mary (CT, NOV. 7 and Dec. 12, 1986).

In a way, this didn’t surprise me, and I certainly didn’t resent it. CT has many loyal Roman Catholic readers.

My article and the editorial were appraisals of the significant differences between Roman Catholics and Protestants. They were not at all typical of the kind of statement you ordinarily see in this ecumenical age.

Too often contemporary ecumenists try desperately to find common words on which all can agree, and that each interprets as he pleases. But this does not help anyone understand what others believe. Even less does it demonstrate a true unity of faith.

Naturally, many traditional Roman Catholics were ...

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