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John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. 40 For he who is not against us is for us.
Mark 9:38-40, NASB
I was thinking of this quote as I read over the latest scandal in the Catholic Church, with what looks like a pagan idol being trotted around the Vatican, and the Amazon Synod turning into a clown show. It’s embarrassing to watch a place of such serious devotion plastered with propaganda worthy of a college campus, while the various bishops sounded like they were auditioning for a Jack Chick tract. Ricochet’s Catholics debated over the culpability of the Pope in this, invoked the Saints to pray for them, and cheered on as the faithful tossed the idols into the Tiber.
Then, like many of these discussions, it shifted to yet another iteration of the Catholic-Protestant debate. I understand – I am Protestant, and I actually carefully considered Catholicism before rejecting it. I did not reject it out of ignorance, and I am not shy about explaining it. However, my encounter with a devout Newman Center at my alma mater gave me a deep appreciation of just how much we have in common. Jesus Christ is the center of the Mass, as it is center in a Lutheran service or a Foursquare service, and He is acknowledged as Lord and Savior. More to the point, we all still desire to bring souls to salvation – that was what led me to the Newman Center, since I thought they had signed a document renouncing evangelism – it was not the case. When we read this verse, we can sense the understanding from both the Catholic (unity) and Protestant (toleration of variation) viewpoints.
However, there is a deeper layer that dawned on me as I was writing this. What were these maverick disciples doing? They were casting out demons. Catholics and Protestants share not only a common Lord, but a common enemy. The Devil, and his various minions, are active and threatening to all of us, and the diabolical ideology that says we need to kneel before a pagan deity is a plague on us both. Pachamama is bad, but how is this different from the Re-imagining debacle? The Lord is warning us not to spurn allies in our spiritual warfare.
So, I suggest next time the question “Is the Pope Catholic?” seems less rhetorical, hold off on pounding another 99 theses into your brothers and sisters in Christ. There will be other times for that discussion. Pray and encourage them, so that our allies can resume laying siege to the gates of Hell. He who is not against us is for us.