I got a little envelope in the mail today. No name on the return address. Just “P.O. Box 17453, Louisville KY 40217.” My name and address were dot-matrix printed on a label. The envelope had a regular 32 cent stamp on it.
Opening it, I found two postcard-sized cards. The first, on brown card stock, bore the legend “Treasures in your Catholic Bible” with an illustration of a big Bible sitting in a treasure chest. Below it was the offer “To receive a free copy of this Bible study, print your name and address on reverse and mail.” The other side of the card had a spot for your address as well as the same anonymous P.O. Box that was on the envelope. If I hadn’t been paying attention, I would have assumed it was a Catholic Bible Study, just as the sender hoped I would.
The other card, on blue card stock, had an image of the Blessed Virgin displaying her heart wreathed in thorns. It read “MARY! A study of Our Blessed Lord’s Mother in the light of Holy Scripture.” Again, the advertising aimed to catch the average Catholic unawares and interest them in a nice little Marian devotional. However, a closer perusal of the reverse side showed a list of points about her based on the scriptural record (i.e., “God chose her to play an important role in the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 1:30-31)”), along with a few points about her based on Fundamentalist tradition (“She never expressed a desire for prayer or veneration from man.”) as well as the remarkable claim that Acts 1:14 is the last time she is mentioned in Scripture.
Finally, my eye traveled to the bottom of the card: “Dr. Bill Jackson, P.O. Box 99141, Louisville, KY 40269” and the logo “CEC” superimposed in a cross. No hint of what “CEC” stands for is given anywhere.
Ding! The little bell went off in my head. “Dr.” Jackson is the head of “Christians Evangelizing Catholics” a rabidly anti-catholic group. Realizing this, I returned to the card with renewed interest and amusement at the cleverness of the ruse. I wondered what “Dr.” Jackson was proposing to have me study? Must not have been Luke 1:48 (where Mary says “Henceforth all generations will call me blessed”) because “Dr.” Jackson has already told me that veneration of Mary is unbiblical. Must not be Revelation 12 either, because “Dr.” Jackson also assures me that Acts 1:14 is the last mention of Mary in Scripture. Doubtless, “Dr.” Jackson will assure us that, in actuality, Revelation 12 has nothing to do with Mary at all, but is simply and solely about the church. He may even, as countless Fundamentalists do, inform me that the book of Revelation is actually church history forecast in symbols. Such reasoning reminds me of a curious paradox. Fundamentalist exegetes can see invading Muslim hordes, Soviet helicopters, European economic communities, Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev in the book of Revelation. It’s all crystal clear and it was certainly obvious to St. John. But when the text speaks of a woman closely linked to the Ark of the Covenant (Rev. 11:19), who is pregnant and gives birth to a male child who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter (Rev. 12:5) it, of course, can’t possibly be connected in the writer’s mind with Mary. No, not one little bit. Nor can it mean that this same Woman and Mother is understood as an image of the Church. Nah. That’s an absurd meaning foisted on the text by Catholics.
So, I wondered, what then does “Dr.” Jackson mean? Why cloak his anti-Catholic propaganda in Catholic garb? Why not just come out and tell me who he is and what he is up to? Why all the pussyfooting and hesitance to tell me the purpose of his Bible study and name of his organization? What Scripture does he propose to study anyway?
Finally it hit me: 1 Thessalonians 1:3! “For our appeal does not spring from error or uncleanness, nor is it made with guile.” Guess he wants to do a study in contrast between his approach and St. Paul’s.