Thursday, May 23, 2013

The pope said what?

According to this HuffPo article the new pope of the Catholic church is playing fast and loose with Scripture and the most basic central doctrines of Christianity.

from the article:

"The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can... "The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!".. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
I'm not sure where he gets the idea that faithful Christians can't accept an unbeliever can "do good." Of course many atheists and people of many faiths have and continue to donate to charity, serve in soup kitchens, adopt orphans and care for widows. People from all walks of life have the ability and freedom to do good works and evil works.

At issue here is whether or not those works count for anything in God's eyes apart from Christ. Is it possible to be good enough? Can we quantify exactly how much good is required? 
In Isaiah 64:5-6 we read "You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways...We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment."
According to these verses, it seems at first as though we can "work righteousness" but then we are told that all our righteous deeds are like a "polluted garment." We know the Old Testament contains the old law under which the Israelites were held. It was a way to actually quantify just how good one would have to be in order to stand righteous before God. Its job was to ultimately prove to mankind that we are not capable to uphold that law, or be "good enough" for God.
Jesus told a young man in Mark 10:18 that "no one is good except God alone." 

Martin Luther (not that I agree with him in every subject) said, “The most damnable and pernicious heresy that has ever plagued the mind of man is that somehow he can make himself good enough to deserve to live forever with an all-holy God.”

"Those who are in the flesh cannot please God." Romans 8:8

So what is our hope? How can we become good or truly do good? Our hope is Christ. 
" yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified." Galatians 2:16
 Jesus said "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

Of course the Bible teaches that Christ died for all, but it also teaches that we must believe and obey him. This is Christianity 101. For the pope (or any self-proclaimed 'Christian') to suggest that unbelieving, unrepentant people are going to be redeemed by the blood of Christ by "doing good" is works based salvation. 
 "I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose." Galatians 2:21
I don't think you'll find the pope willing to state that Christ died for no purpose, however his statements lead to that conclusion. Unless I've utterly misinterpreted the pope.

And atheists apparently will be dragged off to Heaven against their will by virtue of having been charitable enough in this life? Read your Bibles. "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace." Romans 11:6 
Don't get your "truth" from fallible man (yes, not even the 'pope') Get your truth from the Bible, the word of God, which "is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." 2 Tim 3:16-17

I am aware that even among Christians, much debate can be had over the dichotomy of works and grace in relation to salvation. I don't want to fuel that debate, but rather warn against ignoring Scripture entirely in order to justify a universalist point of view in which one simply must be a little better than one's neighbor in a never ending relative scale of "goodness."
Atheists, take note: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life....Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." John 3:16, 18

Join me in praying that friends and loved ones and people around the world will look to God's word for truth and wisdom, and that they will ultimately choose to "be buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." Romans 6:4
 

7 comments:

  1. You were surprised? Popes say wrong things like that all the time. That's because they're popes. ;-)

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    1. I guess surprised doesn't really capture my sentiment :) It's true, I wouldn't expect to hear him preach the truth, but still...

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  2. Upon further investigation http://www.mrc.org/articles/media-claims-pope-gave-atheists-pass-heaven , it appears that the pope's words were taken to the extreme by the liberal (and spiritually illiterate) Huffington Post, Salon and Gawker to suggest that he was giving Atheists a pass into Heaven. In fact, perhaps the pope was just trying encourage believers to accept the worldly good that unbelievers are capable of and to encourage unbelievers to meet believers "halfway" by being nice once in awhile.
    Not sure at all. But my post remains true either way. You can't be truly "good" without God.

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  3. I was raised Catholic and didn't leave the church until my mid 30s. I've been a confused Christian for many years! Add theological evolution, purgatory and no Bible reading to the mix and it's no wonder I had unstable footing. Is it coincidental that I discovered the truth right as I answered His call to home school? Yet another terrific read!

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    1. My husband was raised Catholic as well, and I grew up with a fairly loose version of Christianity, biblically speaking. I'm so thankful to have been brought into the right influences that helped lead me to biblical Christianity. It HAS been confusing! Once we had children, we started digging even deeper to make sure we could do justice to our task as parents. Praise God for helping us through our confusion!

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