(In the above video Pastor John Piper is asked what he would say if he had two minutes with the Pope. I used to like the video but it now seems very silly to me. Why would you spend your time asking the Pope’s view on justification, given that he is not going to contradict the Church teaching which is easily accessible in the Catechism? Also, it seems odd to call the Pope a heretic. By what authority can John Piper determine heresy? Through an evangelical ecumenical council? Nope, just through his interpretation of the Bible. I still have great respect for this man, but the clip demonstrates some of the basic misunderstandings of Catholicism and problems of evangelicalism.)
When I (rarely) thought about Catholicism, I probably would have said something like, “Well the Catholics follow the Pope, but we follow the Bible.” This statement is wrong on many levels. The one I would like to focus on is the assumption that I as an evangelical did not use an interpreting authority, but simply the Bible.
Scripture is not clear (enough). That’s why I couldn’t agree with fellow Protestants on any number of fundamental issues, including the necessity of baptism for salvation or God’s sovereignty (see current debate in SBC). We all look for interpreting authorities. Catholics look to what they see as the God-ordained Magisterium. Evangelicals often look to a megachurch pastor they like or the consensus of popular megachurch pastors (see Elephant Room).
To be fair, evangelicals would say the ultimate authority is always the Bible. Unfortunately, as any conversation between an Arminian-paedobaptist-premillenial-charismatic and a Calvinist-Baptist-amillenial-cessationist will tell you, interpretation is a tricky thing.
John Piper was my pope. I would never, EVER have said that. But he was. Who’s yours?