Thought for the Week
This is something I never expected to write. Not because I have anything to hide, but because I don’t. However, last week two men I respect questioned whether I really am the person I claim to be, or whether I have some secret agenda. Why?
Because I used a quote by Mother Teresa in a blog post that, ironically, has been my most read and Liked this month. The problem: because Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic, they argued, I should not have quoted her, or at the very least should have included a warning about her theological views. I replied that that was not what the post was about, and not what she’s known for.
Unsatisfied, the first fellow, whose blog site is dedicated to exposing the “false gospel” (his words) of Catholicism, wrote a post entitled “Evangelicals’ Undiscerning Infatuation with Mother Teresa,” using me as its prime example. The second, whose site is dedicated to defending evangelical orthodoxy, re-blogged it, and then in another post revealed what appeared to be my secret agenda: converting protestants to Roman Catholicism!
The proof? Along with quoting Mother Teresa (never mind that I also quote atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, Sufis, ancient pagan philosophers, the Bible, etc.), my feature film Healing River was financed by a Catholic production company! He asked me to either admit my secret agenda or explain this apparent smoking gun. Why had I been avoiding the issue? Because, I replied, literally no one but you has ever considered it an issue!
Honestly? His and the other fellow’s questions were less about who I am than about who they are and what they believe.
Nevertheless, I explained that the production company was indeed initially attracted to Healing River because of its two principal Catholic characters (their other movies are made for Catholics). But when I signed-on to write and direct I insisted that Healing River neither be about nor preach Catholicism (it’s about forgiveness), and that it be made for general audiences. Result? It has been seen by far more people than their other films (over 400,000) and has been praised by church leaders from all denominations.
So who am I – really? Well, I’m not a Catholic, nor do I agree with all of their teachings. But neither am I anti-Catholic. I’m simply a passionate Jesus-follower. And I don’t refer to myself as an “evangelical” either, by the way, because that once-honorable term has acquired ugly connotations: things people are against. My blog site, stories, and films are about things I’m for. I prefer to focus on what’s good (Mother Teresa’s ideas about charity and service), rather than what’s bad (her depression and ever-changing beliefs).
Am I theologically “undiscerning”? Well, I’ve studied and taught theology for over forty years, have served at three churches (one non-denominational, one Evangelical Free, and one Presbyterian), and spoken at conferences throughout North America, and my messages have always been well-received. I suspect it’s because they’re about…
Building bridges, not fences.