The Vatican and The Promises

In Uncategorized on December 14, 2007 at 1:25 pm

Reuters is reporting on comments made by the Vatican in response to a lot of criticism they are receiving for their perceived methods of evangelism. Some groups have gone so far as to call it:

proselytism, or seeking new members aggressively or through coercion

Rome defended its methods of evangelism and even called it:

an inalienable right and duty, an expression of religious liberty …

Is this true? Without getting into a discussion on Roman Catholic theology, can we correctly say this about evangelism, that it is a God-given right which cannot be taken away by man? Is there any such thing as a God-given right that cannot be taken away?

My thought would be no, evangelism is not something that cannot be taken away from us, because it was never promised to us. What has been promised to us?

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Matthew 10:16-23

For the true Christian, that is our promise. That when we go to these places where God’s established government will not allow us to preach the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) that we will be persecuted for His Name’s sake.

So, there are such things as inalienable rights. To the Christian, they are called the promises of God:

I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Hebrews 13:5

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
Romans 8:1

that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ
Philippians 1:6

The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
Revelation 3:5

These are just a few of God’s promises to us, thank God for His Word that we can rely on to be true. These promises are meant for us to rest upon, to give us hope during the difficult and the easy times in our lives. These are the only things we can rely on, those things promised by God. Anything else is fleeting and will not last.

Now it’s your turn, what other promises does the Christian have? What promises does the non-Christian have?

The article also says the Roman Catholic church is working on a missionary “code of conduct”. I think I would like to write more about this tomorrow (what the Scriptures say about a code of conduct for missionaries) unless someone cares to pick up on it on their own blog?

  1. I think I’m going to have to disagree with you on one point. Depending on your definition of ‘evangelism’, I would say that there’s no way man can take that away from us. Look at Paul and Silas in Acts 16, or the many other times that Christians in Scripture were “suppressed”. How about acts 4 when the persecution only spread the Gospel? Man may be able to make us silent, and even kill us, but they cannot take away our testimony. But that’s just my take on it.

  2. Yes, I agree with you and thanks for showing that I needed to further clarify my point. Let’s take the example of Jim going to a closed country and forming a relationship with Al, a citizen of that country. At some point Jim shares Christ with Al, tells Al the country’s religion is false, and gives Al a Bible. If Al chose to, he could report Jim to the authorities and have Jim arrested and thrown in jail and, in essence, Jim would no longer be able to “evangelize” Al since he would be physically unable to meet with Al and share with him the good news. So, technically, the government has taken away Al’s “right” to share the gospel and within that country’s set of laws, this is legal for them to do.

    For something to be an inalienable right, it would have to be something that is impossible for any man to take away from another man. So my point was that the only things that are truly inalienable are God’s promises.

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