Pope Francis has taken the world by storm, captivating Catholics, Protestants, and non-Christians alike. A pontiff who forgives abortions, washes the feet of felons, and sneaks out of the Vatican at night is certainly unlike any religious leader we’ve seen in a while. His appeal seems rooted in his genuine humility, his insistence that the church should be a defender of the poor, and his desire not to focus on the hot-button culture-wars issues. By comparing Jesus and Pope Francis, as well as Protestant and Catholic beliefs, Jesus, Pope Francis, and a Protestant Walk into a Bar: Lessons for the Christian Church (Westminster John Knox Press) points out Catholic-Protestant common ground, inviting not just ecumenical dialogue but also improved interfaith relations.
Instead of promoting complete agreement as the desired outcome, this book argues that interfaith relations work best when all participants remain true to their own tradition even while being open to understanding the traditions of others. “The American religious landscape is becoming increasingly diverse, and it includes a growing segment of people who claim no religious or denominational affiliation at all,” Rock and Tammeus explain. “Indeed, because of Americans’ history as a people who cherish religious liberty, the United States has a rare opportunity to become a model for how people of many religious traditions can live together in harmony.”
Jesus, Pope Francis, and a Protestant Walk into a Bar is available for purchase through Westminster John Knox Press and other major retailers. Paul Rock is Senior Pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, Missouri. Bill Tammeus is the former Faith section columnist for The Kansas City Star. In addition to his daily blog (billtammeus.typepad.com), Bill writes columns for The Presbyterian Outlook and the online edition of the National Catholic Reporter.