Bishops at a recent synod in the Vatican were lamenting the inroads of Protestantism in Latin America and Africa. A Brazilian cardinal expressed fears that Latin America would soon no longer be known as a Catholic continent. He said that, in 1960, Brazil was 90 percent Catholic but is now only 67 percent with two protestant ministers for every Catholic priest in the country.
In Guatemala, estimates of evangelicals run as high as 40 percent. Mega churches with thousands of worshippers own their own TV and radio stations and broadcast the gospel deep into the remote areas of the country. Thousands of small fellowships meet in store fronts and private homes.
Millions of people are discovering that they can trade the dry rituals of Catholicism for a dynamic relationship with Jesus Himself instead of depending on a harried priest to connect them to their wafer god or Virgin Mary goddess. Catholic leaders blame the shortage of priests for the hemorrhaging of members. Some priests are introducing charismatic forms of worship, hoping to stem the losses.
Similar conditions prevail in Africa. Since becoming pope, Benedict XVI has decried Catholicism's plight in Africa where Protestants "present themselves as the best, the simplest and the most accommodating form of Christianity," and are drawing people away from the rituals and superstitions of Catholicism.
In North America, the situation is more one of cooperation than competition. Evangelicals have been seduced into working with Roman Catholics in areas of common interest and ignoring the unbiblical paganism and idolatry that keep them in spiritual bondage.
Michael S. Horton of Westminster Seminary California, says that 'the perceived cultural collapse of the West has become such an overwhelming preoccupation of conservative Catholics and Protestants that just about anything and everything else is on the back burner.'' In other words, when the Vatican comes out against abortion and homosexuality, evangelicals are willing to join ranks with them ignoring their teaching of works salvation, worship of a wafer god, and praying to the Virgin Mary goddess.
But the Bible warns about being unequally yoked with unbelievers. When a soul winner joins forces with an unbeliever to "save the culture," he has forgotten how cultures get saved. The Bible believer suddenly finds himself campaigning for laws against sin instead of dealing with sin in the heart of man.
He has switched from God's agenda of the great commission to man's agenda of trying to legislate righteousness. Laws against abortion will not stop irresponsible sex. Only hearts changed by the gospel will do that.
The "cultural collapse" that Horton talks about is a failure of Bible believers to call sinners to repentance and cannot be cured by joining forces with false churches that preach "another gospel."
People in Africa and Latin America are recognizing that centuries of bondage to Roman Catholic superstition and ignorance has only left their culture in spiritual and economic poverty. Sophisticated Americans have grown up with biblical truth that made our culture strong but are willing to abandon it to adopt a false remedy promoted by a false church.
Soul winners, let's not be sidetracked. The great commission is still our only agenda. And the gospel is the only hope of the world.