THESE ARE JUST TWO OF DON SHOEMAKER'S UN-NUANCED HERETICAL ARTICLES:
One Evangelical's Gratitude for John Paul II
Dr. Donald Shoemaker is senior pastor of the Grace Brethren Church of Seal Beach, California, and is the chair of the FGBC's Social Concerns Committee. This guest editorial by him appeared this weekend in the Long Beach (CA) Press Telegram newspaper:
In the conservative Protestant environment of my upbringing just about anything that came from Rome was suspicious.
The Roman Catholic Church was, so we were taught, the "scarlet harlot" of the Book of Revelation, chapter 17 — clearly identified by her vestments of purple and scarlet, her gold, silver and jewels, and the golden chalice in her hand. She was destined to align herself with the Antichrist, the Devil's ruler of the End Times, until he tired of her domination and tossed her aside and ruled supreme until his defeat by the king of kings.
To us Catholicism was as Winston Churchill characterized the Kremlin, "A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." Church rituals with their beads and vestments and Latin were a world away from our simple message and revivalist enthusiasm.
A more historically informed approach to biblical interpretation has led to a better look at the Book of Revelation. But what really affected our thought was a courageous and humble man who came out of nowhere to become John Paul II.
John Paul was a human face with which we could easily connect, not a lofty anachronism from the Middle Ages. Coming through the crucible of suffering under two totalitarian systems and being willing to return to Poland to suffer with his people if events so summoned him, he personified the call of Jesus to take up the cross and follow Him.
We saw him as a powerful spiritual leader who in God's providence, though not single-handedly, brought on the collapse of the Communist evil in Eastern Europe. Though Josef Stalin mocked the pope in 1935 with "How many divisions has he?" we saw in John Paul the spiritual power of the cross and the GOSPEL at work emancipating human souls from misery.
We appreciated the unabashed orthodoxy that John Paul represented. His resolute support of pro-life issues resonated with us. Opposition to abortion on demand is the one moral position that unites Evangelical Protestants whether their politics are right, left or center.
Significant issues remain on both sides. Some conservative denominations still pronounce that the papacy is the Antichrist. Obsolete attitudes and teachings are readily found among Evangelicals, as if the Second Vatican Council never happened.
Pragmatists that we are, Evangelicals cannot see any compelling reason to withhold the option of marriage from priests and we can give many reasons for this option. We are solidly in the Reformation commitment to the authority of Scripture alone, not Scripture and tradition. We don't like to hear Cardinal Joseph Ratsinger say that our communities of the faithful are not truly "the church."
We see true "apostolic succession" as fidelity to apostolic doctrine more than as a continuity of bishops. We are not comfortable with the veneration rendered to the Virgin Mary, though we are chastened that we have not honored the spirit of her words in the Magnificat, "All generations shall call me blessed," for she should indeed be our model of devotion and discipleship.
What would many Evangelical Protestants hope to see emerge from the upcoming Conclave? I speak for myself, but I thinkI have the pulse of much of our movement.
We want to see a pope emerge who would forge a strong confessional relationship with theologically conservative Protestants. We are one in heart with Catholics who can confess the Ecumenical Creeds without crossing their fingers behind their backs.
We would delight in a pope who comes from the Southern Hemisphere, where Christianity is vibrant and growing and orthodox. We want this to be the wave of the future.
Finally, we want to see a pope who continues John Paul's ministries of being a shepherd to his people and a prophetic voice to the world. News analysis presently abounds with bobbing heads complaining that John Paul did not bring strong administrative skills to the Vatican and they hope the new pope will.
God forbid! In the earliest days of Christian history the infant church carefully and wisely separated the apostolic role of teaching and prayer from the administrative role that others should do (chapter six of the Book of Acts).
I dread to ponder the outcome had John Paul devoted himself to management instead of pastoral and prophetic ministry. We might have the Vatican well oiled and Eastern Europe still in chains.
FROM PASTOR DON…
Our Visit to St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church
When Mary and I were in Coldwater, Michigan, for her mother’s funeral, we needed some spiritual nourishment to help us through our days there. We looked through the hotel’s list of churches and the Yellow Pages. Where should we go? If we go to a church in a mainline Protestant denomination, we may get no Gospel at all. If we have no recommendations on an evangelical church, we risk attending some contemporary gathering that might provide the spiritual food equivalent of a dozen glazed donuts.
From experience, we know that if we visit a Catholic church we will hear the Scriptures read as the Word of the Lord more than we would hear it in most Protestant churches. The liturgy will include a Creed that goes to the heart of the Gospel and will include words spoken and sung that take us to the Cross. And if the homily is biblical and Christ-centered, all the better.
A summer ago we worshipped at the San Ynez Mission in Solvang and had a blessed experience. So this time we visited St. Charles Borromeo Church in Coldwater.
The pastor’s homily was on the kingship of Jesus and was quite good. In fact, that was the highlight of the service. The singing was quite tepid—hardly up to the magisterial quality of “All Creatures of Our God and King” and “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.” The fellowship was even more tepid—no interaction at all other than the formalized exchange of “peace.”
I think I have a demanding Sunday! The priest conducts Mass at St. Charles Borromeo at 8:00 a.m., then drives to a church in another community for a 9:30 Mass, then back for the 11:00 Mass at St. Charles. And that would also be in the dead of winter! To make matters worse, he mentioned that he would soon be the only priest at his parish—an example of a huge crisis of pastoral care in the Catholic Church.
One more thing—several small portions of the service were in Latin, to our surprise and disappointment. Maybe the “regulars” had been coached on the meaning of the Latin recitations, but that did no good for us “uninitiated ones.”
Two thousand years ago the same issue arose in the Church at Corinth. The apostle, with the Lord’s authority, directed that the words spoken in a worship service must be understood so that everyone, including the outsider who has come in, can benefit. No “speaking in tongues”—whether in Latin or through the gift of tongues. Paul ordered that and said it was not just his directive—it was God’s directive (1 Corinthians 14:6-18 and 36-37).
To put it another way, when Paul forbade language not understood by all, he could add, “This is the Word of the Lord.” And all the people would answer, “Thanks be to God!”
Does Shoemaker worship the eucharist as a god? That's catholic teaching. Does he worship Mary as co-savior with Christ? That's catholic teaching. Do the sacraments save you from hell and not faith in Christ as the Bible says? That's catholic teaching. I escaped catholicism 2 decades ago and am sickened that once great Bible fellowships are sliding into it. Mr. Shoemaker's favorite, St. Charles church, likely had a eucharist worship session just prior to his dropping in, where you kneel and stare at the wafer, displayed in a golden chalice, and you pray to it as a false christ. It's a complete rejection of our Lord Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God and His FINISHED work on the cross!! Mr. Shoemaker should be removed from the Bible fellowship or the fellowship should renounce Christ and embrace this catholic nonsense outright. Having it both ways will certainly spell judgment for Grace Brethren fellowship.