Love across the Tiber...

Here's an E-mail just received from my dear friend, John Archibold, who has given me permission to put it up on the blog. John had read the recent post, Mainline sodomites and evangelical feminists: Who really loves Jesus?, and this is his response. But first, who is John Archibold?

Back in 1979-80, Mary Lee and I spent a year in Boulder, Colorado, where I had been hired to serve a one-year pastoral internship at First Presbyterian Church prior to entering Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in the Fall of 1980. During that year, Dad put us in touch with John and Molly Archibold, old friends from Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship days, and the Archibolds graciously invited us to their Denver home for dinner one evening.

We had never met the Archibolds, but that evening meal and the conversation that followed late into the night remains one of the most memorable and influential contacts in Mary Lee's and my life. At the time, the Archibolds were members of their local Episcopal parish. Later, they left the Episcopalians for the Anglican Catholics--a way-station on the way to Rome, I thought at the time. Then, sure enough, they converted to what I call Roman Catholicism and they call Catholicism. They love Rome and all she stands for, and I think they're wrong. Woefully so, given the stark difference between the Roman Catholic doctrine and practice of justification, particularly the distinction between the infusion and imputation of Christ's righteousness.

But I'm not writing this to fight that battle, at the moment. Rather, to pay tribute to John and Molly for all they've meant in my life and that of my family, and also to demonstrate that there is a Roman Catholic who loves me and is convinced that I, like many other reformed pastors before me, will soon enter Rome. What can I say?

Well, loving John as I do, I'd suggest he not hold his breath. Here's his loving letter...

Dear Tim:

You're getting close, but you're not quite there yet--but I predict you will be. It does not surprise me that evangelicals are crumbling, too.

You are tough minded and a straight thinker. So let me give it to you straight--the only entity in the world concerning which the Lord said the gates of hell would not prevail against it is the Catholic Church. Everything else (and I literally mean everything else--nations, kingdoms, empires, Protestantism in all of its forms, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, General Motors, communism, fascism, capitalism, democracy, Microsoft, [you can keep going]) is temporary.

That the gates of hell will not prevail against the Catholic Church does not mean that they (the gates of hell in all of its forms within, without, below, above) won't try. They have, are doing so now, and will continue to do so.

Sooner or later, you will be in the Catholic Church--with its warts and all. It is inevitable. Meanwhile, I share your frustrations and sadness at how many so-called evangelicals fail to understand true (not phony "compassionate" love)--a failing of many Catholic pastors and bishops as well. Don't let family ties hold you back.

My late grandfather was one of the founders and First Vice President of the Colorado Bar Association, of which I have been a member for over 46 years. The Board of Governors of the Colorado Bar Association recently passed resolutions supporting same-sex benefits and opposing the Colorado marriage initiative [ie, marriage is between one man and one woman] which hopefully will be on the ballot this November. So I am outta there--and I have so informed the leadership. (The Colorado Bar Association, regretfully, is no longer a professional association of attorneys, but it has morphed into being just another special interest political action group for the Colorado Democratic Party and its anti-life and socially destructive policies.)

Molly and I will have been members of the Catholic Church for 11 years next January--wouldn't trade it for the world.

John Archibold


"You're getting close, but you're not quite there yet--but I predict you will be"

Tim, I think your friend here needs to read your blog every now and then. That should set him straight.

Well, for one thing you know your Bible way too well to ever try to earn or secure your own salvation by the meritorious act of joining the "right" church. (Not that we don't both know numerous unfortunate examples that this wisdom is only preserved by the grace of God.)

But I see why he thinks you are headed Romeward. To a casual observer this blog might give the impression that your conservatism is about being on the right side of the culture wars. And then too you have sympathizers posting that they'd rather be Baptists because at least then people would know where they stand on hot-button social issues. Your friend's second paragraph shows he is sympathetic to this outlook. Frankly I am astounded that he would insult his own church by setting it as an alternative to "fascism" or "General Motors" - but that he does so speaks volumes. I suggest you point him (and your general readership) to your recorded sermons, and start posting more here about the central doctrinal content of the faith, so that there will be no mistake as to whether your Christianity is merely a question of the best alternative to feminism, communism, corporate America, etc. Don't, like so many other American evangelicals, underestimate the dangers of a merely moral religion. Rome will beat you at it every time.

I've suspected for a while now that one or both of you was headed this direction. I figured it would more likely be David, though.

Interesting advice, Elizabeth. Thanks--I think we'll act on it.

I can remember, growing up, before I was a Christian, thinking that Protestants were
"Catholics-lite." A lot of Roman Catholics think that, too. But now I see works-rigtheousness religions, from RC to Mennonite, to liberal-Protestant, to Unitarian, standing over against the preaching of grace. Some, of course, are closer than others, and individuals may be closer than their particular tribe.

If only your friend has heard your preaching from Galatians!

The problem with assuming that one particular institution will never fall into error is that when it DOES, you have to go along with it instead of standing on the words of Scripture and recalling it to it former position.

er, that should be "_its_ former position."


That was me who said I should go back to the Baptist church so people understood where I stand. I wasn't seriously saying only the Baptist sare right, I was sarcastically insinuating that sometimes it's a shame we Christians are divided into so many groups, rather than being one.

It seems we're often so busy nitpicking each other's churches and "legalisms" that I think we tend to lose focus on the true enemy of the church and the church's true purpose.

In Christ,

Bill K.

It's curious that the Roman Catholic church has been quite successful in America in getting intelligent evangelical converts, but very bad at keeping its own serious-minded people or at getting the unchurched. (The number of priests, monks, and nuns is way down; see

I wonder if the reason isn't evangelical despair at always wondering about theology. The Authority of the Church seems to be the central attraction-- the idea that if a doctrine is old, it's got to be right, and that papal infallibility, unlike inerrancy, can quiet one's uneasy doubts by giving a right answer to everything.

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