My friend Ian tells a story from the days when he was a Baptist preacher serving a small congregation in Texas. Ian zealously tried to bring the Gospel not only to the established families in his little church, but to their less-fortunate neighbors, many of whom were very poor. He was so successful that the church was enjoying record attendance. He had quite literally changed the complexion of the congregation, as people of different races began to appear.
But not everyone in the congregation was happy about that. In fact, some members began to organize, and they even broke into Ian’s parsonage to serve him a warning that he might be fired.
Ian sought advice in his Baptist church’s regional offices. But his colleagues there informed him that there was really no court of appeal beyond the congregation. Ian pointed out how that ran contrary to the New Testament example. The Apostles were not disciplined by their congregations, nor did they take orders from their congregations. Rather, it was they who presided in love over the Christian assemblies.
“Well, that’s true, Ian,” one colleague said. “But that’s not the way we do things today.”
“Well, is anyone following the New Testament on this?” Ian asked. “Who is doing things the New Testament way?”
The man laughed at the thought that crossed his mind. “I’m afraid the only folks who work that way anymore are the Roman Catholics.”
Ian is now a Roman Catholic.
—from Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain, and Defend the Catholic Faith by Scott Hahn, Ch. 6: Bible Study