Friday, August 16, 2013

LETTERS TO POPE FRANCIS: A Book Review

MATTHEW FOX, AUTHOR OF, LETTERS TO POPE FRANCIS, HAS A BONE TO PICK WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. And he may be right, they did remove him from being a Dominican priest. Whether his removal was justified or not have not the expertise to say, but it is safe to say he doesn't see it as justified, especially considering the Catholic Church's reluctance to remove priests who have exhibited pedophiliac behaviors.

Now, I have liked what I have seen and heard this far regarding the new Pope, and was looking forward to reading this book of letters Rev. Fox, now an Episcopal priest, has written in book form. Whether or  not Pope Francis has ever read these letters, that is to be seen.

Rev. Fox has some very positive ideas, based in the earlier work of the Pope's namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi. He calls the Pope to clean up the church's hierarchy's abuse of power, to allow the church to regain its evangelistic fervor, to open the doors to the ministry to and of the youth.  He makes a strong call to Pope Francis to continue in the ministry to the "least of these," that he was known for in his parishes in Argentina.  All of his calls to action seem to bear the call of Jesus Christ to serve rather than to be served, and thus far, even I, a born and bread Protestant, can appreciate the attitude and posture this new Pope has displayed, and I can hope that he would actually be able to read these letters.

All that being said, I am disappointed with Rev. Fox's work (letters) in two key regards. First, his anger toward those that have wronged him is quite evident in his writings and he may have been wronged, I cannot judge that, but what I can judge is what is seemingly the inability for Rev. Fox to offer the forgiveness we are commanded to offer by the Lord Jesus Rev. Fox is supposed to serve. (Matthew 6:14-15; Luke 6:37, etc.) Rev. Fox puts more weight in the traditions and writings of the church than in the teachings of our Lord.

Second, I personally find Rev. Fox's theology a little too liberal for this evangelical Protestant. I believe we are called to love all, as I believe Rev. Fox would agree, but he also is not willing to call sin, what the Bible calls sin, especially in his acceptance of the lesbian and gay lifestyle. Yes, the good reverend is entitled to his hermeneutical opinion, but I will have to honestly stand opposed to what I believe a misinterpreting and misapplication of God's Holy Word, the Word that must always trump the teachings and traditions of the church, Catholic or Protestant when those teachings and traditions run contrary to the Scripture.

Rev. Fox has some good things to say, things that should play well to both Catholic and Protestant churches, and I applaud him for those calls to action. But sadly I cannot recommend this book whole-heartedly because of his breaks with what I believe are the clear commands of Scripture.

Brothers we shall be as we trust in the completed work of Jesus Christ upon the cross, but to work hand-in-hand in total fellowship, that waits to be seen. Though should Rev. Fox actually read this review that fellowship may be harder to come by.

Sola Gratia
Sola Fides
Sola Scriptura
Solo Christo
Soli Deo Gloria

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