Joe Carter, First Things
As a child I had almost no direct contact with Catholicism. My family attended a small backwoods fundamentalist congregation—The First Church of Hellfire and Damnation, or something similarly named—and the preacher would often mention the Pope and Catholicism in one of his "Identifying the Antichrist" sermons. The Antichrist was a slippery chameleon, his identity rotating between "usual suspects" among a handful of heathen groups: Chinese communists, the Russians, secular humanists, New England Senators, Episcopalians.
The Pope, though, was our preacher’s favored candidate for ushering in the End of Days. And the Whore of Babylon was indisputably the Catholic Church.
I was nine years old when I first saw the new Pope—John Paul II—on television. Since this was the man who would be ushering in Armageddon, I figured I'd better get to know the enemy. I watched as he stood in front of thousands of Catholics, waving and smiling, and noticed that something wasn't quite right. His wasn't the charming smile of "The Beast" that Brother Bob had warned his flock against. It was more of a sly grin. In fact, this new John Paul seemed like a nice guy; he might even pass for a Christian. Surely, I thought, he couldn't be the Antichrist. After all, he was Polish. The Beast could be Russian or German, but not Polish. Even as a nine-year-old I knew that Poles couldn't be scary.
This was the beginning of the end for my Jack Chick-style anti-Catholic bias, an inclination that was regrettably prevalent in many parts of rural Texas during my childhood. I became more intrigued by John Paul II, the Catholic Church, and the Catholic girls at my school. Over the years, I've engaged more directly with Catholics and the teachings of the Catholic Church, and my admiration and appreciation continues to grow.
Read the article and most of the comments following. When "We are the one and only Church" Catholics and RCSproul/John Piper fans represent the extreme ends of the spectrum it doesn't give much hope for 'unity' no matter how you define it.
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