Saturday, September 26, 2015

Dispatch from the Papal Outreach in Philadelphia, 6:00 am 9-26-2015

Geoff Robinson, who is coordinating a street-evangelism ministry to the Roman Catholics who will be thronging to see “Pope Francis” in Philadelphia, provides this update:

We have completed the first phase of our campaign.

The Lord blessed our outreach to the World Meeting of Families. Due to several factors under God's providence, it seemed we were everywhere. We had t-shirts designed and donated to us that, without our knowledge, matched the color scheme of the t-shirts given out at the conference. And the Convention Center had only so many access points so we were able to cover the area quite well with a minimal amount of people. Our bilingual tracts made it easy to give out the gospel message to people we couldn't communicate with.

We engaged in many conversations. Most of the people we talked to believe there is no difference between Rome and for lack of a better term the Reformation. Others would just shout out a quip about James 2 to us, but the vast majority of those folks didn't engage in a meaningful conversation.

If I can give one example, I was engaged in conversation with a priest. He was claiming that we believe the same thing regarding grace, etc. If surface-level language is to be believed, he even supported imputed righteousness. It took several minutes to get to the point of agreement that Rome believes in faith + works produces justification and how we disagree on that point.

At that point, the priest gave me a similar objection as the one Paul anticipated in Romans 6:1. At which point I tried to drive the point home: "You are this close! Don't you see!?! You gave me the same objection as Romans 6:1. That means I explained Romans 1-5 correctly!"

I relate this story for one purpose: It's easy to dialogue with someone who has everything clear in their head about where our differences lie. It's not so easy to communicate on the street or with friends, etc. We talked to Catholics who ranged everywhere from crass Pelagianists to people who were confused to people who understood the gospel of free grace and believed it but were still in Rome.

If you run into someone who believes that Reformation was a waste of time, be patient with them and take the time to talk with them. That's a good sign they are confused. And, frankly, that's people in our congregations as well.

Make sure you invest the time with your friends and neighbors to really make sure they understand the differences and understand that those who add works to be justified "are under a curse; for it is written 'cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them."

As of this morning, campaigners will be going to various SEPTA and PATCO stations. Please pray for the campaigners and that God will bless the gospel message.

In Him,

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