Recently the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, was asked in an interview a number of “hot button” questions, especially in regards to homosexuality and the episcopacy. For those blissfully unaware, the Anglicans are currently debating whether practicing homosexuals can be admitted to the priesthood and episcopacy. Most of his answers were confusing and unclear, but one in particular stood out:
He was asked, does the Archbishop hope that one day gay bishops can have partners?
And what was the answer given by Archbishop Williams? “Pass”. That’s right, he gave an answer most likely to be heard by a timid poker player with a bad hand. Can anyone imagine such an answer being given by Pope Benedict, or any pope for that matter?
But there is a certain refreshing honesty in his answer, even if it is terribly weak and scandalous. The fact is that there is no way to know what the future holds for Protestantism (and the Anglicans, if they are anything, are Protestant) in regards to faith and morals. So it is always an open question as to what the Anglican church will one day allow, including opening practicing homosexuals as bishops.
This was the crisis that led to my own conversion to Catholicism. As a young Evangelical Christian, I was fervently pro-life. I recognized the intrinsic dignity of the unborn and I knew that no church that claimed Jesus as Lord could support the legalized killing of these precious children. Yet the denomination in which I had been raised – United Methodism – had in fact begun to support legalized abortion. This was a primary reason I decided to search for a new church family. I found a number of Protestant denominations that were strongly pro-life, but I was unable to commit to them because of this lingering question: how could I be sure that these denominations would not one day change their teaching regarding abortion? After all, one hundred years ago the Methodist church was strongly pro-life and had eventually changed its position, so who is to say that the Southern Baptists could not eventually do the same? And if a denomination can change its position on the fifth commandment, everything and anything is up for grabs.
This left me with quite a dilemma. During this time I went to one of my Catholic friends and I asked him, “How can you be sure that the Catholic Church will not change its teaching on abortion (or anything related to faith and morals) one day?”
He simply replied: “It won’t. I just know.”
This answer rocked my world – not because of the words, but because of the way he said them. He knew. The look on his face was one of utter confidence and peace. It was as sure to him that the Catholic Church would not change their teachings in faith and morals than it was that the sun would rise tomorrow. I was a bag of insecurities and confusion regarding my own churches, but here was this person who would never have to worry about where to find the Truth. What a refreshing way to live!
So I exchanged my “bad hand” of insecurity about the future to the Royal Flush of the Catholic Church and her consistent teachings. I put my faith in the rock which Jesus established and on which a Church would be built that the gates of hell would never overcome. A rock that will never “pass” when asked a question about faith and morals.