The Pope, Brazil, and...Dar al Islam?

The Bishop of Rome (AKA, the Pope) is visiting Brazil right now. In a nutshell the situation there is that the Catholic church is losing folks every day to the various evangelical and charismatic churches through the region.

Here is the article to read for more info.

But why is this important? How is it related to Islamdom (the name of the blog, after all)? Just wait and see...

Worse case scenario: Benedict XVI is a man I regard very highly, as he is one of the few European leaders who has both the knowledge and courage to address Islamdom in Europe. If he retreats into a protective cocoon and declares that odd and semi-heretical teachings and practices abound (which is somewhat true) among these non-Catholic churches, and says they are not true Christians at all, then you can expect a very negative reaction. The traditional charges of worshipping Mary (which Catholics are forbidden from doing) and sacrificing Christ again and again on the altar (not Catholic doctrine) will surface. Both sides will harden their harden their hearts against eachother.

Best case: The Bishop of Rome and the Brazilian bishops will acknowledge that they have much to learn from the other churches. Things like the power of the Holy Spirit today to change lives and liberate people from vice, the goodness of personal and communal Bible study, the importance of every Christian being an evangelist. And on the part of the evangelical/charismatics: a willingness to draw on the great historical depths of Catholic thought and theology, an accceptancce of the challenge to consider that the Holy Spirit can use the Eucharist (Holy Communion) and other traditional rituals to transform and heal and liberate.

My Hope: (And here is where you see why this is important.) It looks like this: The bishop of Sao Paulo will say, we will raise up twenty priests and/or lay families to witness to the Muslims. And the evangelical/charismatic community will say, "Yes, we accept the challenge, we will raise up twenty pastors and/or families to witness to the Muslims." And then the the evangelical pastors in Brazilia say...

You see? Brazil can be a great power for transformation in the Middle East. The first fruits of the Brazilian church are already showing here, believe me. I know these young men and women personally. I had an extended conversation with one recently in fact--me in Spanish and her in Portuguese.

It is our choice. Pray for wisdom for the bishop of Rome and his fellow Brazilian bishops. Pray for wisdom from the pastors and leaders of the charismatic/evangelical community.

It is our choice:

Either, "a house divided against itself will fall." Or, "Iron sharpens iron."

By His grace, let it be the latter.

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