I walked out of the train station and heard the familiar strains of French and English being spoken, sometimes both languages used interchangeably. Montreal has a large population of Muslims and our denomination is committed to reaching out to Muslims.

November 7, 2013 0 1 comments

Last weekend I had the privilege of meeting with representatives from five churches currently involved in global partnerships through World Renew, five churches that are thinking about getting involved, and seven international staff. It was amazing to hear about what God is doing in the various churches here in North America and in churches overseas. What diversity!

October 15, 2013 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

"Exploring Cultural Intelligence" will be presented by Pennylyn Dykstra-Pruim (designer and facilitator of the “Building Your Cultural Intelligence” workshop) on October 30. This free, one-hour webinar will outline the key skill areas of cultural intelligence and explore how Cultural...

October 8, 2013 0 0 comments

SEC volunteer coordinator “Jan” (we can’t use her real name because she is currently serving in a closed country) launched the Skype club concept in March 2012, and has already started 12 international clubs. Hundreds of international English language learners are asking to be included in a Spotlight English Club. “We are limited only by the lack of volunteers available to lead these Skype clubs,” Jan says.And that’s one reason she is requesting what she calls “couch potato ministry volunteers.”

October 8, 2013 0 0 comments

“With the erosion of organizational loyalty, many see dwindling motivation for younger generations to support missions unless a direct connection between church and missionary can be established. Detachment, even distrust, describes younger generations’ attitudes about institutions, and it becomes evident in the offering plate. Donors want to know ‘how my money is being spent.’ Motivation for giving seems to be shifting. These factors will make it increasingly difficult for denominations to fund missionary salaries from large pooled accounts.”

October 1, 2013 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

This article in the online Banner caught my attention: Leadership The Color of Love. 

The author writes, "How does a church balance the call to minister locally and at the same time not neglect the Great Commission’s mandate to go to the ends of the earth? In our church the answer lies...

September 30, 2013 0 1 comments

World Renew believes that God calls Christians everywhere to love their neighbors and to care for those in need. As many North Americans have discovered, when they respond to this call they are as blessed as those they serve. By working through local churches to equip Christians like Yan, they experience the blessing of serving others.

September 24, 2013 0 0 comments

As we share the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15), we have to speak of more than sin; we have to speak about shame. After recently preaching on this subject in a church in Canada, I was struck that I had hit a cord with my listeners. We in the West are also struggling with shame. Anyone who has struggled with a mental illness, or the family members of such a person, has dealt with shame. Recent cases in the news of cyber bullying have led to suicides due to shame. To live in the shadow of suicide is to live with shame. A Professor commented that young people are leaving the church because they have issues with shame that the church is not addressing.

September 17, 2013 0 3 comments

With the start of a new school year, your mission committee might be looking for some new and interesting ways to promote missions within your congregation. In addition to the excellent missions education resources available from Christian Reformed World Missions, you may want to check out the following websites.

September 10, 2013 0 1 comments

So something I have been thinking about recently related to the sustainability of the way I live and simplicity is that it is hard to say no to free stuff.  

September 3, 2013 0 0 comments

When I tell people in the CRC what I do for a living, I tend to get the same question in response: Why? And I get it. I recently took a position developing a new project for the denomination: LEAP. I understand the skepticism I encounter. Does the CRC need another program to solve problems that are certainly not programmatic? No, we really don’t.

August 26, 2013 0 2 comments

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend online and in the church in general; it’s the controversial issues that get all the attention. I know this isn’t new. I grew up in the 90s, and even though I was in grade school I remember hearing about our church potentially leaving the denomination over the women in office issue.

August 20, 2013 0 8 comments

During this anniversary year the history and current ministry of Christian Reformed World Missions will be celebrated in a variety of ways.  At you can see a painting, order a book, read stories, watch videos and learn about events that will be happening in...

August 12, 2013 0 0 comments

The topic of the insider movement is one of the most heated controversies in the area of ministry to Muslims. An insider is a Muslim who converts to Christianity, but who remains in the Mosque for a period of time. 

August 6, 2013 0 9 comments

New church starts are crafting their culture. One of the most significant roles any new congregation will address is the formation of their DNA. For missional churches, the essence of their culture will be incarnational.

July 30, 2013 0 0 comments

Steve Van Zanen, Director for Missions Education & Engagement for Christian Reformed World Missions, has been researching what churches identify as needing from missions agencies. Through a survey of a random sampling of Christian Reformed pastors, the following were identified as the most important resources and services that CRC congregations most need in order to engage in international missions more effectively.

July 23, 2013 0 1 comments

When you pastor a congregation of only 26 people, six new members is a pretty big cause for celebration.

July 16, 2013 0 0 comments

I have on my desk an NIV Study Bible and a Quran (The Meaning of the Holy Quran) translated by Yusuf Ali. I study them both. By studying the Bible, I hope to deepen my faith in God. By studying the Quran, I hope to better understand the religious experience of my Muslim friends, so that I can share with them my understanding of truth as it is found in the Bible.

July 9, 2013 0 10 comments

CRWM is committed to sharing God’s Word worldwide. But to cover the cost of this work, CRWM has had to increase missionaries’ support-raising goals.

July 2, 2013 0 4 comments

An excerpt from the Sea to Sea devotional about riding through Shiprock--a good reminder to all of us to shine in the darkness!

June 26, 2013 0 1 comments

From time to time I receive emails from concerned church members over controversial Bible translations. The translations in question are seven Wycliffe/SIL projects in Muslim contexts where the translators sought to put the Word of God into language that could be easily understood by the intended audience. This kind of translation is called a Muslim Idiom Translation. At the center of this controversy are the names God the Father and Son of God, which we call divine familial terms.

June 18, 2013 0 0 comments

One of the key principles of global partnerships is reciprocity. Partnerships are a two-way street. Usually when I meet with churches, they want to do something or send money for something. They might even have glossy brochures detailing all the buildings they have provided throughout the world or how many children they have sponsored.

June 11, 2013 0 2 comments

 “We help Christians and Muslims; what matters is the need, not the background of the person,” explained Pastor Jihad.

June 4, 2013 0 1 comments

“We are partnering locally with Latter Rain Ministries (Pastored by Bishop Reginald Blackmon) to share the gospel in Fort Wayne, why don’t we partner with a CRC church in El Potrero, Honduras to share the gospel of Jesus Christ globally?” Pastor Jim Halstead challenged the Community CRC church family during a Sunday morning worship service in the summer of 2011.  

May 28, 2013 0 0 comments

Much of my work involves helping churches discover their unique gifts and talents that they can contribute to the work of World Renew. Sometimes I hear, "my church is too small to really get involved," or "we have a hard enough time paying our ministry shares; we can't take on another offering or missions project."Sometimes I want to say, "Yours is exactly the kind of church I want to work with!"How much easier is it to relate to churches in developing countries when you DON'T have all the financial resources or answers? 

May 22, 2013 0 3 comments



I agree you you there, but the statement:

[quote]The Quran is a helpful bridge to the Bible{/quote]

is wrong. Read and understand it, yes. Bridge to the Bible, absolutely not.

     Even those of you who view all Muslims as evil or not to be trusted or worse, shouldn't have issue with someone trying to better understand where they are coming from. "Know they enemy" yes? Only a very small percentage of Christians that I've encountered have even a modicum of knowledge about their own faith and what our Bible teaches, so I am very distrustful when they claim to understand Muslims and the Quran. I whole heartedly endorse those Christians who have a mature faith & have spent plenty of time in God's Word to help us understand our Muslim bother & sisters. You go Greg!


It seems to me that saying that we should respect the Quran the way Moslems respect it, reveals an ignorance of how moslems really regard the quran.   We can understand how they respect it, but the only way to respect it the way they do is to accept Mohammed as the true prophet of Allah, and to follow all the precepts and commands in the quran.  Which we cannot do. 

Just to see what happens, I'm repeating my earlier comment, which has dissapeared:

"It is likely that Muhammad encountered both Christians and Jews in his travels as a caravan trader."


It's not only likely that he encountered both Christians and Jews in his travels.  He also tried to kill them all!  The Koran, no matter how you spell it, is a Satan-inspired book.  Stay away from it!

Yes, they are dangerous waters but waters in which we must dive.

[quote]The Quran is a helpful bridge to the Bible[/quote]

Those are very dangerous waters you are treading in.

Hi Lou, We have been providing grants to other organizations which in turn hire and pay people (which is what is happening with Rev. Bahago) for a long time, much longer than 15 years.  Of course, a much much larger piece of our ministry is training and equipping national leaders who are not depending on CRWM for their income at all.  CRWM is doing much more than sending career missionaries.  Some may lament that, but others are very glad that we are responding to a changing world by changing ourselves, changing in method but not in purpose.

Hi Harry,  If a missionary raises more than their full costs, the amount will be carried over to the next year.  This has not been a problem so far, but we hope.  Our budgets include projects that we are definitely committed to and which are financed on the same basis as career missionaries as well as those that are COI, conditional on income.  Sometimes missionaries also have side projects that don't fit in either of these categories.  I'm not sure what sort of project you are referencing.  Please email me at and we can address this.

Shift of policy over "the last few decades."   As recently as 15 years ago some of us WMers were very firmly turned down on this (hiring/subidizing nationals) even while our ministry colleagues (CRWRC) were doing so.  Oh boy...  I guess we priced ourselves out of the market, and this shift looks to me like a market based decision.  There is a biblical one: equality!

Steve van Zanen raises a very interesting point. The logical (possibly unintended) consequence of this model might be that when a church supports an idividual missionary it will deduct this support from it's Ministry Shares for WM so as not to support the same mission organization (WM) from two sides.

The other consequnce is that if a missionary raises more money than his/her budget needs who gets the surplus amount?

Last year I tried to have an amount designated for a specific missionary program to assist with some out reach ativities that the missionary had suggested to me. My approach was to FIRST ask WM to include that project as an amount in that missionaries budget for that purpose.  I was uncerimoniously turned down. Only WM knew the needs of the missionary.

There was a recent update on the trip posted on the Banner website.

Extreme Heat Temporarily Halts Sea to Sea Bike Tour

Please continue to pray for the riders.

Wendy, your post awakens memories of long discussions about mutuality in global relationships. Because money plays such a large role in our lives, it distorts so much of what should be learning from one another. I wanted to add one or two ideas to what we can learn from African churches, namely, suffering and poverty. While each of these are mainly negative ideas, each contains a source for learning about life and our mission before God. I used to wonder at Christ's prediction that we will suffer for his sake, when I live a life that is mainly free of such suffering. We all  have troubles, but these, of course, pale in comparison to  our brothers and sisters in Africa, for the most part. When we enter into relationship across international boundaries, we get to share -- or be in solidarity with -- the suffering of others, to some degree. And we can, at times, see how God helps some rise in spirit above poverty, how they can experience joy in the Lord in times of need. Of course, I do not condone either suffering or poverty, but in a mutual relationship, each brings his or her own experience to the table, and those experiences form a whole greater than anyone person at the table.

What a wonderful story of the Church being the Church. Thanks for sharing!

Thank you John for your discussion opener.

    A couple of observations:

a. The German scholar Nagel Tilman said:

"I deliberately refrain from rashly pointing out parallels or similarities between Islam and Christianity, because this tends to be misleading. For what do we learn from an analogy which is sometimes made-of Christ as the "logos" and the Koran as God's word? Statements of that kind only feign similarities between Islam and Christianity; the naive European reader is led to believe that Islam has a logos theory comparable to that of Christianity. That is utterly wrong!" in his  The History of Islamic Theology From Muhammad to the Present. ( Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2000), p. xi.

--his bottom line: read Islam on its own terms

b. In his blog of Wednesday, May 29, 2013, Mark Durie  points out that relativism is a huge problem in reading Islam correctly.   Given the CRCNA's frequent posture of trying to please all people all the time, it is not difficult to see that embracing a culture of relativism could blind one to Islam's true nature. For instance how many times have I heard "there is no compulsion in religion" from wooley-headed leaders who fail to realize that this was a Meccan Surah which has been abrogated by "kill the infidels."

c. I am grateful to the advance of the Gospel as outlined below by Wendy and Nancy.

d.  To understand Islam at its root, it must be understood that it has two triads that intertwine and are non-negotiable, Pew Forum notwithstanding. The first triad is the Qur'an/Sunnah--examples drawn from Muslim traditions/Sira--the life of Muhammad.  Like it or not this is the center of the Islamic solar system and it is non-negotiable. Sure many token Muslims orbit at a distance to Pluto from these, but invariably when push comes to shove they will be drawn to the center. That is why democratic countries need very firm laws to prevent creeping shariah. The second triad is composed of iman (faith)/islam (submisison) and ihsan (virtue.).  Again, to fill the pillars of these three, essentially one must say, "I love what Muhammad brought." However living a life of WWMD "What would Muhammad do?" one must be well aware of his legacy from the Sira, or from a book such as "The Life of Muhammad" by Ibn Ishaq--translated by Guillaume. Then you will see why non-Muslim governments might wake up and smell the roses.



Thanks for sharing this post.  I'm reminded of a recent conversation in which a older, wiser church leader cautioned that in this age of anxiety over declining memberships and budgets, not to ever underestimate the power of the Spirit (especially in this season of Pentecost).  He said, "When you stop and think about it what we are called to do is not expensive.  It doesn't require much.  Just a Bowl, a Book, Bread, and a Cup.  It isn't about fancy programs or facilities. 

Grace and Peace,

Michael Borgert

Thank you for sharing that, it's an important message. It reminded me of when my Dad was still farming potatoes and onions - we would always have people stop by during harvest season and ask for seconds. He would usually give them a bag of "firsts" that he had set aside to bring home that night for our family. My mom would get angry that he "forgot" to bring home the potatoes again. It was an excellent lesson for me. 

We are never too small to make a difference. Case in point...  I preached in April, about how in OT times, farmers left something around the edge for the poor to glean from. I asked a few simple questions that had been on my mind. We all live with excess, but are we leaving some of what we have been given for the poor to be cared for. I alsoshowed a short video from Foods Resource Bank (FRB) of World Renew. To date, some farmers have designated some acres for what we call God's Garden." Hopefully, there will be more who join the effort, and the congregation is planning an annual fundraiser for this purpose as well. The Christian communigty is a giving community, and all we have to do is ask and encourage participation. It is God who works in the hearts and minds of people to make this happen.
Praising God!

Thank you for the article Greg. As much as I wholeheartedly agree that Gospel friendship to all people, especially the "strangers" in our midst is vital, we should not in the same breath diminish the ideology that drove these young men to do what they did. I write this a couple of days after the beheading of a British military man in broad daylight.  The ideology that drove him and the Boston bombers is the same. In this case, a political response is necessary beside the important pastoral response that you have proposed. Here is a link to an interview given by someone responding to the incident in Britain. His greatest frustration is with politicians with wooly brains and rose coloured glasses. I sure hope that the Salaam Project does not contribute to the same thinking as these politicians.


posted in: Terror in Boston

Good comment and good article by Van Reken, Steve. 

One value of this distinction is that it clarifies what the church as church should do, as compared to what Christians should do.  Professor Cal Van Reken wrote about that here.  There is a very brief response by Peter Vander Meulen at the end, but he has much more to say on the topic. 

Thank you Donna, glad to know that they are appreciated! (and being read :-)

The commentator, Anthony Furley, stated that it was more important to find out what people believed, than what their faith said they were supposed to believe.   I wonder if this would also apply to Christians, and in particular, members of our denomination. 

Excellent response.  Our mission efforts should include muslims for sure!  God and the angels in heaven rejoice much over the one in 100 who is lost when he is found!  So do we.   And we should pray! 

The larger question is how we deal with our perceptions of muslim culture, the violence, beheading, shariah, etc., when we must as citizens make decisions about how to deal with it.   This is not much different in some ways than how we deal with practicing homosexuals or fornication or abortionists, or adultery by unbelievers, while at the same time witnessing to them and showing Christ's love.  Except that this also of course has more serious ramifications in terms of shariah, polygamy, death sentences for dress code violations, "consequences", terrorism, suicide bombing, etc.  Well, maybe not more serious than abortionists, but you get the idea...   If muslim culture gains more control over more countries, the opportunities to witness for Christ will decrease more and more, don't you think? 

I always appreciate your perspectives on short-term missions. Keep up the good work of promoting cross-cultural sensitivities!

I agree with Wendy. There is salvation power in the Gospel! I work with Back to God Ministries International and receive encouraging stories of people coming to faith in Christ from our Arabic ministry in the Middle East. Our team reports that many of the younger Muslims are becoming disenchanted with those who practice a fanatic version of Islam. They are open to alternatives.

Although many countries are hostile to the Christian faith, thousands of Muslims in the Middle East have access to the truth of the Christian faith through Back to God Ministries audio programs on radio and Internet. We also have a Facebook page that introduces sayings of Jesus--and Jesus' words draw many into a desire to know more about Him. 

We provide answers to their questions and discipleship through text messaging and Skype conversations—and, with caution, in face to face meetings with trained mentors. With prayer and patience, we are seeing the Holy Spirit transform lives.

For example, a young couple, from an area of the Arabian Peninsula where the Bible is forbidden, first heard the Gospel over the airwaves. They became Christians a few years ago and now have secret fellowship with a small group of other believers. They keep in touch with our Arabic staff through Skype and quietly point their friends and relatives to our Arabic ministry website. As a result, some of their friends or relatives have also committed their lives to Christ! 

There is a similar story on that might encourage those who are praying for Gospel transformation in the Middle East. Keep praying! God is at work! 

I just spent some time with CRWM and World Renew missionaries from West Africa. I can tell you that through patience and genuine relationships, Muslims are coming to Christ. I cannot give you statistics or numbers. But for those who have been saved, I am grateful to God.

Hi Greg,

Thank you for commenting on the recent Boston bombing.  Thank you for reminding us that the sin of the human heart is the real enemy here, and that Jesus came to restore Shalom--thanks be to God!  May the Lord continue to bless the Salaam Project. 


posted in: Terror in Boston

Thank you for this reflection, Greg. Your last paragraph is especially important. Hospitality and love are the marks of a Christian.

posted in: Terror in Boston


I am sure a passionate commitment to their faith would also be true for those we share dialogue with.



Unfortunately, they act out their passionate commitment very differently than we do.

Thanks again everyone for posting comments on this important issue. Thanks also to Marie for pointing out the CRC statement on inter-faith dialogue by the ecumenical and inter-faith committee. It is well worth reading. It is important to remember that in these types of dialogues we do not wish to compromise our faith. We remain deeply committed to Jesus Christ and the historic creeds and confessions and seek to share the grace we have experienced as followers of Jesus. I am sure a passionate commitment to their faith would also be true for those we share dialogue with. I would hope so. The goal then becomes increased understanding and peace between our communities.



First thanks for noticing the image. We add images to enhance the blogs and draw in the readers to read them. It's nice to know that the images are noticed.  

In order to be the good stewards of ministry shares nearly all of the images we add come from Creative Commons images on Flickr. Here is a link to the original image on Flickr:

For this particular blog I wanted to focus on symbols that represent both Christians and Muslims faiths, because of the topic of the blog.

Thank you again for your comment.

The photo of a red wall with a Christian cross and Muslim moon in equal halves of a cupula is a curious choice for a graphic to accompany this article. Maybe something had to be placed there that would represent both Christians and Muslims, because that’s what you're writing about. Or, maybe it's a section of some local wall painting in Egypt that fit the open space needed for a visual in this article. However, as someone who spent almost 20 years as a graphic designer before graduating from seminary, this graphic speaks the words, “different faiths, equal religions.”

Now, because of my previous training and vocation, I can be rightly accused of reading waaayyy too much into this graphic. However, I wonder what would happen if we repaint the wall with the cross on top of the moon? Would the interfaith dialogue have gone as smoothly? Would changing the painting in that way offend someone? As one who has been redeemed from the false religion of Islam by Jesus’ work on that cross, I suggest that a symbol representing the mode of true redemption has no businesss sharing a separate-but-equal space with an icon of deception.

Like I said, maybe I'm reading too much into the graphic. But, if the essence of the interfaith talks would be lost by painting the cross over the moon (a position of superiority, or even "victory"), then the dialogue may have already sacrificed the glory of Christ for something much less redemptive. I pray that this is only an instance of my over-active imagination reading an unintended message.

Thank you for your comments to date. I understand the concerns about Muslim-Christian interaction. Having just read a book I picked up in Egypt, "The Coptic Papacy in Islamic Egypt 641-1517," I am aware of the negative cycles in Muslim-Christian relations there and that we do need to be wise in our interactions. I also want to point out that throughout this period there were saints and sinners on both sides. My point is that we are called to be peace makers first, despite how the other party reacts. Whether they are trustworthy or not or is less of an issue to me and is, in fact, a rather judgmental way to begin a conversation.

Naive, no. Guarded maybe, open to being civil, yes. As Christians we are charged by the Great Commission to evangelized to the entire world. It is difficult to do so with hostile hearts. To non-Christians, sinners, Muslims, Buddists, Hindu's or any person who needs to hear the Gospel, the Good News of the Love of Jesus Christ.

Thank you, Greg, for this account and challenge. I really appreciate the first-person perspective as a refreshing change from sweeping stereotypes. 

In thinking about our call to participate in dialogue I found this CRC statement on inter-faith dialogue really helpful, including the quote, "Inter-religious conversations must take place, first of all, as a way for us to understand each other, remove false stereotypes, and learn to see our neighbors as persons rather than as representatives of a religious tradition or ideology."

There is no conversation or dialogue that leads to peace between Muslims and Christians because Muslims do not desire peace between Muslims and anyone. They desire everyone to be Muslim by any and all means necessary. Christians who believe otherwise are being played for fools. Islam is a missionary faith and the Mecca based (later) writings of the prophet Mohammad make it quite clear that anything goes so far as it advances the dominance of Islam worldwide. We do not have a shared ethic with Islam because our standard begins and ends with Jesus, the Christ of God. They are devoted to the moon god Allah. 


How I would love to share your enthusiasm for the meeting you had with the Grand Sheik, Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb! I have lived, worked and done business in Egypt. I have had food and fellowship in the homes of both Muslims and Christians there. I love the people but I have learned to be very wary of what I'm told. Egyptian Muslims will tell you what they believe you want to hear. It has happened to me repeatedly in business and social situations when there was no intention of following through as was promised. Many see this as simply being "clever". It is true as you say that Christian-Muslim interaction has a long history but it has not been between two equals!

My converted Muslim friends tell me that the Quran says both that Muslims should live peaceably with Christians and that Muslims should kill the infidel.  A knowledgable Muslim will quote you either of these verses as may be convenient for the current situation. Scholars of the Quran agree, however, that whenever there exists a conflict between Quranic verses the one most recently written by Mohammed abrogates (nullifies) the earlier written verse. "Kill the infidel" nullifies the earlier "live peaceably" verse. Thankfully there are many nominal Muslims that don't understand this. They, in particular, are ripe for the gospel of Jesus. I agree to the idea of dialog but be wise as serpects and gentle as doves.

Rich Smits

Meaningless words from the Grand Sheik, unless the muslims will follow his guidence.

Appreciate your posting, reflections and observations. Just to share my wife Germaine and my experience in Dakar Senegal with Muslim families our common subject conversations began and ended with the elder fathers pointing upward and saying in Arabic, Wolof and English "There is but one God."

Posting on behalf of Pastor Ken Prol:

"Thanks for this encouraging article, Wendy. As one who is planning to ride from Grand Rapids to Montreal, I was concerned at first about trying to raise the required $5,000. What I found is that people have been much more generous toward this cause than I had expected. Sure, some still think I am a little crazy, but they have helped me exceed my original goal. My new goal is set at $10,000 and I believe my friends and relatives will bring me to that goal. All I had to do is ask and then tell why I am riding and the money flows. God is good!


Thank you Greg for this attempt to clarify the concept of jihad.

 Might I refer you and your readers to an article that cites multiple Islamic sources concerning jihad? It is entitled

The Politico-Religious Catalyst to the Early Islamic Conquests and is by Chester J. DeLagneau

I believe that your readers will agree that as always, Islam has a Mecca face which is the "let's get along we are all friends"--there is no compulsion in religion--and the Medina face which will inevitably be adhered to when Islam is in the majority---"convert, pay, leave or die".---and to which all jihad efforts, peaceful or violent are directed.


posted in: Jihad

I liked Chris' telling of his neighbourhood walk. He writes well. What caught my eye was his question "... what it would be like to call these people my neighbours...?" Maybe his take on this neighbourhood would be different if he began by saying "these are my neighbours, God is here, where can I find in my walk the presence of Jesus?"  You get point. But I have to go out to lunch. Later...maybe?  Thanks.

Thanks for your reflections Steve. We recently talked to some Catholic friends who said Pope Francis is very much centered on the cross and its significance for all of life. They added that because he is focussed on the cross he will be ecumenical, because all Christians are focussed on the cross. And with his focus on the cross he will be evangelical, because the cross is still Good News for the world today.  It was good to hear that!  Yes, we certainly have some huge doctrinal differences but we have a common mission and serve the same Lord. 

For twelve years my husband and I served as missionaries to Spain. If we were still there, I would be encouraging my evangelical friends to take advantage of this little window in which the new pope is using some of our language. His current emphasis on Jesus, humility, and forgiveness can be used to open opportunities to share the gospel with many cultural Roman Catholics in traditional countries like Spain. 

So then it's like putting on the "ritz"...infallible when needed, otherwise he's just a commoner like us!  That must work really well.  Sorry, I'm sticking with the Reformed view of this, only God the Father is infallible!

Just to clarify the Roman Catholic Church's position on this matter, the doctrine of papal infallibility only applies in very specific circumstances, and is rarely invoked.  Also, it is an innovation proclaimed by the First Vatican Council in 1870.  For a church that claims tradition as its authority, this is a big problem!  This is another important issue that remains between Catholics and everyone else, including the Eastern Orthodox, but this Pope is talking a lot about Jesus. 

For starters, my wish for a new pope  would hope for a man who does not think that he is the "infallable representative of God on earth".  After all, why do we put up with that?  He cannot possible be representing a God who states that only He is infallable and to even recognise a meer man as infallable really gets my dander up!  Do we need to accept a Pope at all, as Bible believing Christians?  He may be "proclaiming the Word of God" - but then, a pope thinks he's a god!  (I did not put a capital letter on that for a reason.)  And who is this pope leading people to?  An infallable, one only TRUE God?  Hmm, the RCC has changed a lot, but that is one major flaw we should not accept.

I have appreciated all the links given both in the blog and in the comments. It will be interesting to see how Francis's Jesuit background influences his papacy and his relationship with Protestants. It is significant that Francis gave his first Sunday message on forgiveness, which is still the message that the whole world needs to hear. 


Steve, some of the comments under the Christianity Today article are enlightening. 

 Here is something from Christianity Today on what can what cannot be expected from the new Pope.