Doctrine and Catholic dogma aside, the reason Pope Francis is so popular is because he behaves in a way we want all Christians to behave. Even secular journalists would like Christians to behave like he does.
No one can deny that Pope Francis genuinely loves his people and lives out, to the extreme embarrassment of most evangelicals, the humble, compassionate life that Christ would have us all live.
But many of his adoring crowds go home and say, “How wonderful is our pope. He is a gift from God. We are so blessed,” instead of, “Woe is me. I must repent and turn to God and eternally serve him with all of my being.” This gentle leader of millions does not teach his followers that Christ requires all people to be born again. Until he does, he is merely a pied piper.
I appreciate the wisdom and historical helpfulness of the report titled “Sorry, Tertullian,” which reported that persecution does not necessarily create more conversions.
The one thing I wondered is whether Tertullian had in mind church growth as we know it. Persecution has a way of purifying the church, which does draw people in. I will never forget the wisdom of well-known Nigerian mission leader Panya Baba. After sharing with our staff about persecution, martyrdom, and churches being burned, he said, “Be careful how you pray. The persecution is purifying the church.”
Perhaps those are the kinds of churches—albeit small—we will find some day in the United States.
Greg H. Parsons
Global Director, US Center for World Mission
O Subtle Star of Bethlehem
While the report ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more