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The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Mysteries)

The term “mystery” is used in the Bible several times, isn’t it? We have that great passage in I Timothy 3:16- “Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.”

We read in 1 Corinthians 2:7– “No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.” Paul speaks about our being gathered to Christ in1 Corinthians 15:51 – “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—”

The term “mystery” is used seven times in the book of Ephesians and four times in the book of Colossians. In Ephesians Paul writes, “he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ . . . (1:9). In Ephesians 6:19 Paul speaks of his desire to make this mystery known: “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel . . . “

Unlike Calvin in the cartoon above, Christians are to make known the mysteries of God, the most important being salvation in Jesus Christ — for both Jews and Gentiles — who believe!

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2020 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

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“The Plain Truth!” (A Study of 2 Corinthians 4:1-3)

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

We’re now working our way through 2 Corinthians. Here’s my outline for several verses in chapter four:

Years ago a false teacher by the name of Garner Ted Armstrong had a very popular preaching ministry called “The World Tomorrow.” His magazine was called “The Plain Truth.” The father Herbert W. and his son (Garner Ted) denied the doctrine of the Trinity (as well as other cardinal truths of the Christian faith). The false doctrines of Armstrongism are detailed here. After the death Herbert W. Armstrong, the cult moved more in the direction of orthodoxy as described here.

What brought Armstrongism to mind is the expression of Paul in verse 2 – “We set forth the truth plainly.” Notice the following elements about

“The Plain Truth” (A Study of 2 Corinthians 4:1-3)

I. This is a ministry we have through God’s mercy and, therefore, we should not lose heart (v. 1)!

II. The message that we preach is not based on secret and shameful ways (v. 2).

III. Our proclamation of the gospel is not with deception or distortion of the Word of God (v. 2).

IV. Rather, we set forth the truth plainly with a good conscience (v. 2).

V. We recognize that some, those who are perishing, have veiled minds to the gospel (v. 3)

Today’s Challenge: I don’t know who you are trying to reach with the gospel, but let this passage be an encouragement to you! Don’t lose heart and realize that only God can un-veil the minds of those who don’t yet believe!

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2020 in 2 Corinthians 4

 

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A Dialogue with My Friend “Mike”

Friends: I have been corresponding with an unsaved friend of mine for years. We’ll call him “Mike.” You might find the following dialogue interesting. I’m open to your comments or questions:

Hello Larry,

I take you up on your last sentence: “I think that a genuine friendship gives the other permission to share his thoughts and deepest convictions”.

You understand my frustration….

You understand my request…..

Do you really???

We both believe in a higher authority that governs our life. We give it different names, but it is the same authority. It is the same authority that all the hundreds of different religious belief systems are based on. You enhanced your conceived system with ideas that are not shared in the same way by all the other different religions. This does not change the fact that there is only one authority and it is wrong to take the position that ones own interpretation is better than every other.

I fully accept the Christian value system, but cannot accept the detailed descriptions of paradise, the creation of mankind, the original sin, the love of God, etc.. similar as I cannot accept the idea of a Santa Claus, or an Easter bunny.

Whenever you talk to me in terms of converting me to your views, it always implies that your views are better than mine. Do you think this is right?

You talk about my world view. I don’t have one!

I simple accept the higher authority without having any thought of trying to understand. I know without doubt, that this knowledge is outside my capability.

Hope you will not give up on me for being blunt with expressing my views.

“Mike”

Good morning, Mike.
I received your email and wanted to jot down a couple of thoughts to you. On some things we agree; on others, not so much.

1. On the issue of “a higher authority” — If you mean “God,” then on the surface you are right. All religions claim to believe in “God” (although Buddhism believes in many gods or none at all). The Bible talks about “false gods” and bluntly says that those who don’t worship the God of Israel are worshiping idols. Your comment reminded me of a long conversation I had with a leader of the Ba’hai movement. He believed that all religions were really believing the same things.

But that’s not true, is it, Mike? Apart from the specifics of Jesus, etc., the various conceptions of God (a Trinity? not a Trinity?) differ dramatically. To say that all religions believe the same thing when it comes to “God” is actually not taking those religions seriously in what they claim.

2. I would love to know what you mean by “I fully accept the Christian value system.” Which parts? On what basis do you pick and choose which parts you will believe — and consign the others to the level of the Easter Bunny?

3. Thank you for your honesty in asking me the question: “Whenever you talk to me in terms of converting me to your views, it always implies that your views are better than mine. Do you think this is right?” I’m sure some of your views are better than mine, and maybe some of my views are “better” than yours. What’s the problem? Isn’t dialogue and discussion a way to get to “better” views (those more consistent and in tune with reality)? For example, isn’t the Christian idea of love not better than the Hindu practice of sati, the forcibly burning to death of a widow on her husband’s funeral pyre? Mike, I’m certainly not saying that you hold to sati, but if you did, wouldn’t love dictate that I try to dissuade you of that idea?

4. You write, “You talk about my world view. I don’t have one!” Au contraire, mon ami! Every person has a way of looking at life, of understanding reality. Your worldview does not include recognizing Jesus as God’s Son who gave His life for you. Mine does. That’s a pretty big difference in worldviews, wouldn’t you say?

5. Lastly, you write: “I simple accept the higher authority without having any thought of trying to understand. I know without doubt, that this knowledge is outside my capability.”

Mike, don’t you see that this is an assumption that you make? What if that higher authority has revealed Himself to man in order to draw people into a relationship with Him? Of course an exhaustive knowledge of this “higher authority” is impossible. But our knowledge need not be exhaustive to be sufficient. I don’t ever want to be one who has given up the pursuit of the knowledge which He has revealed.

I will not give up on you for being blunt about your views. And I hope you won’t give up on me. But please don’t expect me to leave my Christian convictions outside, to stop praying that you will understand and believe the gospel, that you will come to know my Jesus.

Blessings.
Larry

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2020 in evangelism

 

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A Fragrance . . . or a Stench? (A Study of 2 Corinthians 2:14-17) Part 6 (Conclusion)

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

We’re now working our way through 2 Corinthians. We continue our study of several verses in Chapter 2:

A Fragrance . . . or a Stench? (A Study of 2 Corinthians 2:14-17)

We’ve noticed, first of all, the image of a triumphal procession (v. 14). We have been conquered by Christ! Oh, glorious defeat!

Please notice, second, that Christ not only leads us as captives but uses us to have an olfactory impact on others! We believers are carrying with us, on us, in us, “the aroma of the knowledge of him.” We smell like Christ. We carry with us “the aroma of the knowledge of him.”

We also saw, third, that our primary audience is GOD! We read, “For we are to GOD the pleasing aroma of Christ . . .” (v. 15). HE is our “audience of one.” We smell like God’s own Son.

We then recognized that “we are a pleasing aroma of Christ” to two human audiences (v. 15). Amazingly we are told that we are a “pleasing aroma” to both (1) those who are being saved and (2) those who are perishing. Wow. Those “who are perishing” might not think that our aroma is pleasing, but if our primary audience is God, it is HIS opinion that matters the most! What “those who are perishing” may regard as a terrible stench, God says is a “pleasing aroma” to Him.

In our last post we observed that, apart from God as our primary audience, we believers are “smelled” by two groups. Verse 15 describes one group as “those who are being saved” and the second group as “those who are perishing.” The Bible is quite clear that the wages of sin is death. We begin to die the moment we enter the world. And, while physical death is awful, spiritual (or eternal) death is the worst possible situation one might encounter. Those who have not trusted Christ are presently dying. This bifurcation of all of humanity into two groups is incredibly offensive to those who are not yet believers, but it is still true.

As we conclude our study of this amazing text, let’s notice that the believer’s aroma brings something with it. For those who are perishing, it brings DEATH. For those who are being saved, it brings LIFE. One would not think that a mere smell would produce such dramatic results, but our aroma stands for a personal, saving relationship with the Lord Jesus. Believers find that image fragrant and pleasing; unbelievers react to that image as some odorous and repugnant.

The logical question that Paul asks is “And who is equal to such a task?” (v. 16). What task? The task of representing Christ in this world and recognizing that some will literally and figuratively turn up their noses at the gospel of our Savior.

Today’s Challenge: What an image! As you move through today, ask yourself if you are faithfully representing your Savior — and don’t be discouraged when some turn up their noses at you!

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2020 in 2 Corinthians 2

 

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My Comments on the Article “There’s Got to Be a Better Method Than Hit-and-Run Evangelism”

A few days ago we posted the article “There’s Got to Be a Better Method Than Hit-and-Run Evangelism” (Patheos December 6, 2018 by Josh Daffern) which may be found here.

Here are my comments on that article:

Josh gives a great illustration. How would one best help an overweight friend? By “fat shaming” them on the internet? By bluntly addressing their weight problem? By boldly proclaiming “the truth” about their obesity? Josh rightly asks the question, is your goal to be right — or to help your friend lose weight? “Hit and Run Evangelism” means shaming + judging first. When we do that, aren’t we merely “checking the box” that we’ve “done evangelism”?

Josh says, “We don’t get credit for how many people we offend and push into Hell.” He then recommends that we “to turn over the tables in our churches” and “hold ourselves accountable for those on the inside and love those on the outside.” Love, he rightly states, is a better motivator for life change than condemnation.

I grew up as a hit-and-run evangelist. Whether I used an approach like “The Four Spiritual Laws” or some other technique, I stepped out in boldness — and stepped on a lot of toes.

Here is where we need to get back to becoming friends of sinners as Jesus was! Some evangelistic encounters might well be brief (a conversation on an airplane, giving a comment on someone’s blog post), but even in those we are to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. Some people need to hear about God’s holiness and wrath and eternal judgment. Others need to hear of His love for sinners. In those short and solitary encounters one must ask God the Holy Spirit for wisdom which approach to take.

But for friendship encounters — situations where we can follow the Lord and truly become friends of sinners — we need to invest time and love in earning the right to be heard. That is precisely my burden in Unlike Jesus: Let’s Stop Unfriending the World.

Today’s Challenge: Ask the Lord specifically how you can advance or initiate your friendship with someone you know who has not yet trusted Christ.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2020 in evangelism

 

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What If This Happened in Starbucks?

So this morning (Sunday morning), I went to Starbucks to get coffee for my wife. The church we attend has a break between services, so I went to get her coffee and a multi-grain bagel.

The place was packed. The six or so Starbucks’ employees that were working behind the counter were swamped. One customer was upset because he was still waiting for his cheese danish. Most of the chairs and tables were taken. People were meeting with friends; laptops were everywhere.

Before I placed my order, something came over me. I felt a profound burden to speak to the whole room:

“Hey! Forgive me for interrupting you folks, but I’ve got a critical question to ask you. Are you ready?”

People looked nervous. Nobody speaks to the whole group gathered in a Starbucks! Who was this kook?, they probably thought to themselves. Some of the men looked like they were examining me for a hidden weapon of some kind.

“Why aren’t you people in church?! There are a lot of good churches within a couple of miles of here. Has Starbucks become your church?”

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed that one of the baristas was on the phone, probably calling the police. I knew my opportunity would soon be over.

“Folks, I’m not trying to be offensive, But shouldn’t all of you be in a church of some kind, worshiping the Lord Jesus for all He’s done for you? He died for your sins. As the Creator, He’s the One who gives you the next lungful of air that you breathe. Unless you’re on a break from your church like me, what are you doing here?!”

As I looked over this group of about thirty people, there were a few whose faces looked very angry. I had disturbed their Sunday morning quiet time at Starbucks. One or two looked, well, almost remorseful. Maybe they had given up on the church a long time ago, but the truth of Jesus’ giving His life for them seemed to rush back to their minds. The rest, to be honest, were each dialing 9-1-1.

Then I saw the flashing lights outside. As the police officer came in and gently led me to his patrol car, I thought, “Wait! I forgot to get the coffee and bagel for my wife!”

Friends: Just so you know, this did not happen. But I thought about it. And I know my friend Bruce (a former preacher-turned-atheist) who sometimes reads my blog would say, “Why in the world did you think you had the right to interrupt those people with your silly message? They didn’t ask you, did they?!”

And he would be right. No one asked me to break into their peaceful moment at Starbucks with the gospel. But what if I did?

[Your comments welcome below]

 

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2020 in gospel

 

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A Stench . . . or a Fragrance?

I’ve recently been corresponding a bit with a couple of people who hate Christianity and have attacked me. Some of the things they have said about Christians are true. We often come across as holy know-it-alls. We are guilty at times of trying to manipulate conversations to spiritual things. And the “friendships” we develop with “lost” people are conditional and sometimes shallow and end when the other person refuses to become a believer.

I’m not sure any of us do anything out of 100% pure motives. But that’s no excuse for not loving others the way Jesus loved them. But I think if Christians were almost perfect in their interactions with those not yet in God’s family — they would still be criticized and hated. Which brings me to 2 Corinthians 2 which reads:

Just a few observations on this incredible passage:

1. Notice that God uses the believer “to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” (v. 14) Are you aware, Christian, that you carry with you a smell, an “aroma,” wherever you go? You can’t wash it off — nor should you want to. But one man’s aroma is another man’s . . . stench!

2. Notice also that we are “to God” a pleasing aroma. He is our primary audience. Others may “smell” us, but His “nostrils” are the ones that really count.

3. Our aroma is a pleasing one to God whether it is among those who are being saved or those who are perishing (v. 15). Interesting that all of humanity is divided up into two categories: (1) those who are being saved and (2) those who are perishing. God is not willing that any should perish (2 Pe. 3:9), but He is glorified even by the death of the wicked.

4. Notice that we are an aroma to two audiences: (1) to the one an aroma that brings death; (2) to the other an aroma that brings life (v. 16).

The bottom line is that the Christian is both! I would prefer to go through life as a fragrance rather than as a stench. You?

“Lord, help me to be faithful in representing You to a watching — and smelling — world. And help me not to take it personally when people turn up their noses at the gospel — and at me! In Jesus’ name. Amen.”


 
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Posted by on February 29, 2020 in evangelism

 

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Answering a Personal Attack: My Response to a Former Preacher Turned Atheist

Friends: Recently I’ve been challenged by a former preacher-turned-atheist by the name of Bruce Gerencser. His article is entitled “Beware of Evangelicals Coming in the Name of ‘Friendship’” and you may read it here.

Bruce rightly criticizes Christians for what I call conditional, blackmail-type, temporary “friendships” in order to evangelize them. And when conversion doesn’t take place, these Christians drop their lost “friends” like a hot potato and move on to what Bruce calls another “mark.”

Here is what I wrote to Bruce:

Bruce:
I’ve thought quite a bit about how to respond to you and your post entitled “Beware of Evangelicals Coming in the Name of ‘Friendship.’” I believe you first mentioned me in your blog back a few years ago when you took issue with my position on premarital sex.

I posted a preliminary comment on your blog a couple of days ago asking you to read my book “Unlike Jesus: Let’s Stop Unfriending the World.” I think you’d be surprised at how much you and I agree with one another.

I don’t want to be like an “Amway or Herbalife peddler.” I’m deeply concerned with your very accurate statement that “many Evangelicals . . . are content to let us go to hell in peace.” I also don’t want to “irritate, bug and harass non-Christians.”

[Just a minor correction — I am now retired from my teaching position at CIU].

I agree with you that “most church members keep their faith to themselves.” I’m not at all interested in “fake friendships,” Bruce. [I’d be glad to send you the pdf of my book if you wish. You and I may disagree, but I’d like you to see that we’re attacking the same problem of insincere, conditional, blackmail-type, temporary friendships]. We all have a worldview that we want to “share” with others, right?

I don’t know Katy Morgan, but your attack on her article seems unfair. Is she really advocating fake friendships with the aged?

You write: “There are six Evangelical churches within five miles of our home. Want to know how many times the pastors of these churches have knocked on our door to introduce themselves, invite us to church, or share with us that wonderful salvation they prattle on and on about on Sundays? Zero.” I agree with you that that’s sad. But if they did visit you, would you criticize them for their “fake friendship”?

“Never content just to be decent, thoughtful, genuine human beings, Dixon, Morgan, and company scour the countryside looking for ‘opportunities’ to become fake friends with young and old alike.” Wow, Bruce. You don’t know me.

You “divorced” Jesus 12 years ago. I’m sorry you lost all your Evangelical friends. They are rightly criticized for abandoning you. Jesus is clear that those who turn from the faith (either morally or doctrinally) should be treated as tax collectors and pagans. How did Jesus treat tax collectors and pagans? He sought them out! He befriended them. But He told them the truth about forgiveness.

You speak of your friend of 50+ years and that he is one who is “willing to let me go to hell in peace.” I’m glad you have that friendship. Would you be angry with him if you found out that he prays for your re-conversion?

I appreciated your point about true friends, as you reminisced about A.V. Henderson’s sermon. I want to be an exception to your comment that “When they don’t get what they want from us — our salvation — they move on to other marks.”

You write: “I am quite happy to be left alone in my debauchery and apostasy. I just wish the purveyors of friendship evangelism would leave others alone too.” I agree with your attack on conditional friendships and I am with you in meeting the temporal needs of the elderly, etc. You write: “However, attempting to befriend people as a means to an end — salvation — is repugnant. None of us like being used, and that is exactly what Evangelicals do when they target people for evangelization.”

Again, Bruce, I think we have a lot in common. But if I’m a true follower of Jesus, I would not just want to meet your temporal needs, but deeply care about your eternal needs. Wouldn’t that be consistent Christianity?

Blessings. Larry

Please feel free to leave a comment below if you wish!

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2020 in friendships

 

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AN INVITATION TO YOU — TO INVITE ME!

Friends:

I’m convinced that there is a major element missing in many Christian’s lives. That missing element is that we are often not friends of sinners as Jesus was. We spend our time watching Christian movies, listening only to Christian music, and eating only Christian casseroles! We have to develop meaningful relationships with those who are still outside of Christ!

That’s why I wrote Unlike Jesus: Let’s Stop Unfriending the World. HE was a friend of sinners (Matthew 11) and we should be as well.

I am passionate about this subject and have a half-day seminar ready to present to your church! Just invite me!

If you are a leader in your church and wish to consider my offer, I will gladly send you a complimentary copy of my book Unlike Jesus for you to read and present to your church’s leadership team. There is no huge fee to have me come. Just cover my expenses in travel!

A half-day Saturday seminar — on friendship evangelism! What could be better than that! (And I’d be pleased to speak at your Sunday service if you wish).

My contact information is on the right of the page. Let’s make 2020 different this year by becoming friends of sinners!

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2020 in friendship evangelism

 

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Pope says, if you try to convert an unbeliever, you are “not a disciple of Jesus”


First, Pope Francis was quoted as saying “There is no Hell.” Later, he reportedly denied the deity of Christ, saying that while Jesus lived on earth he was a virtuous man but “not at all a God.” Then, the Pope reportedly said that His death, Christ appeared as a spirit, as opposed to the bodily resurrection of Christ. Now he has said that those who try to “proselytize” an unbeliever are “not a disciple of Jesus.”

The other times the man who is said to be the custodian of the Christian faith reportedly said something that seemed to deny a central tenet of Christianity were in the context of a discussion with his atheist friend, the Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari. The Vatican insisted that the journalist was not accurate in his reporting. This time Pope Francis was talking to a group of high school students in Rome, responding to a question about how to deal with atheists and people of other religions.

Here is what he said:

In front of an unbeliever the last thing I have to do is try to convince him. Never. The last thing I have to do is speak. I have to live consistent with my faith. And it will be my testimony to awaken the curiosity of the other who says: “But why do you do this?” And yes, I can speak then. But listen: Never, never bring the gospel by proselytizing. If someone says they are a disciple of Jesus and comes to you with proselytism, they are not a disciple of Jesus. Proselytism is not done, the church does not grow by proselytism. Pope Benedict had said it, it grows by attraction, by testimony. Football teams proselytize, this can be done. Political parties, can be done there. But with faith there is no proselytism. And if someone says to me: “But why?” Read, read, read the Gospel, this is my faith. But without pressure.

To be sure, “proselytize” has the connotation of evangelizing in the wrong way–high pressure, canned presentations, being manipulative, etc.–though simply telling people about Jesus is often branded as proselytizing. This is how it is taken in the growing number of countries with anti-proselytizing laws, which are often being used today to persecute Christians, something the Pope should be sensitive to.

But setting that aside, the Pope’s answer suggests what might be a useful tactic in evangelism: Wait to be asked. Instead of trying to convince your Muslim, Jewish, and atheist friends to become Christians–which might create big trouble for a contemporary European teenager–live out your faith so that they become curious and ask you about it. Then you can speak.

Fair enough. The problem, though, is that the Pope puts his prohibition about not trying to convince unbelievers and not proselytizing so strongly. Those who do so are not just well-intentioned but ineffective, or wrong-headed and naive. “They are not a disciple of Jesus.” Is he saying that if you try to convert someone to Christianity, you yourself are not a Christian?

Evangelical Christians are well-known for evangelizing, for “witnessing” to others about their faith, giving their “testimony” about their own coming to faith in the course of “sharing the Gospel.” In their recent ecumenical zeal, Catholics have finally accepted Protestants as Christians, though as “separated brethren.” But does the Pope believe that evangelicals and Pentecostals who try to win others to their faith “are not disciples of Jesus”?

But here is the biggest problem. On the first Pentecost, St. Peter faced a diverse, multicultural Jewish audience “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). He preached to them about Jesus, called on them to repent and be baptized, and “with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them” (Acts 2: 40). As a result, “about three thousand souls” became Christians (Acts 2:41). Later, St. Peter won converts by preaching to the crowd at Solomon’s Portico (Acts 3). Still later, St. Peter presided over the conversion of a Roman centurion named Cornelius (Acts 10).

How does this align with what Pope Francis said? “In front of an unbeliever the last thing I have to do is try to convince him. Never. The last thing I have to do is speak.” Didn’t St. Peter speak first and try to convince his audience? These people already had a religion, whether Judaism or Roman paganism. So wasn’t St. Peter trying to get them to change their religion? Couldn’t this be seen as proselytizing? The Pope said, “Never, never bring the gospel by proselytizing. If someone says they are a disciple of Jesus and comes to you with proselytism, they are not a disciple of Jesus.” Would the Pope say that St. Peter, whose office he claims to hold, is “not a disciple of Jesus”? But St. Peter was, literally, a disciple of Jesus.

St. Peter and the other Twelve Disciples, along with other Apostles like St. Paul, spread Christianity throughout the Greco-Roman world, from India to Spain. None of them seem to have followed the contemporary ecumenical approach, sometimes expressed by Pope Francis, that “If you follow your own religion faithfully–whether you worship Zeus, Jupiter, or any other deity represented in the Roman Pantheon–you will be saved.” Instead, they said things like, put away your idols and turn to the living God (cf. Acts 14:15).

The subsequent generations of the Early Church also convinced multitudes of unbelievers from still more religions. A large number of the saints venerated in the Catholic Church were missionaries, apologists, and martyr witnesses. And some, arguably, were proselytizers. Does the Pope really believe that these saints of the church are not disciples of Christ? If so, is he going to de-canonize them?

I know quite a few people who have become Catholics. They say that the Catholic Church gives them certainty, that having a living oracle from God in the papacy protects the church from change and from liberal theology, ensuring a living tradition that is continuous from century to century. Recent popes, like St. John Paul II and Benedict VI, played that role. But Pope Francis does not.

That he is continually undermining not just historic Catholicism but historic Christianity in favor of beliefs that interest him more, such as environmentalism and ecumenism, undermines the office of the papacy itself. Orthodox Catholics, whose conservative theology has always manifested itself in allegiance to the Pope, are put in the position of having to resist what the Pope teaches. For non-Catholics, the papacy and thus the church that he rules lose all credibility.

To be sure, Pope Francis is still pro-life, though remarkably tolerant of Catholic politicians who are not. He still believes in the supernatural, unlike some liberal theologians, to the point of recognizing demonic possession and promoting exorcisms. And maybe all of these controversial statements are just misunderstandings or mistranslations.

For Lutherans, the Popes of history have not, contrary to the claim, been the custodians of historic Christianity. Rather, they have been a means of making changes in Christianity, adding innovations such as Purgatory, indulgences, saint worship, relic veneration, ritualism, legalism, and the consequent effacing of the Gospel itself. Pope Francis makes clearer what Lutherans have always professed about the office of the papacy, that it is not of Christ but Antichrist, not as the dispensationalist end times bogeyman but as a usurper of Christ within the church (2 Thess 2:3-4). If you want an objective guardian of the faith that never changes, look to God’s Word, not to a fallible human being who claims to be infallible.

Patheos article by Gene Veith January 3, 2020

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2020 in evangelism

 

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