Archive for the ‘Francis I’ Category

Papal Priorities: Biblical Study or Saint Veneration?

September 12, 2016

Roman Catholics often raise the topic of authority and claim that we need an infallible interpreter to interpret Scripture.  This, they say, means we need the papacy.  But what does the papacy actually do or care about?

When pressed, however, Roman Catholic apologists typically acknowledge that an allegedly infallible interpretation has been provided for fewer than 20 verses (see this document from Roman Catholic apologist and pilgrimage promoter Steve Ray).  Moreover, when you dig into the claims about those verses, most of the interpretations are actually the alleged interpretations of ecumenical councils, rather than popes.

On the other hand, the Roman Catholic church also teaches that infallibility is exercised in the designation of a deceased person as a “saint.”  How often is this alleged gift of infallibility exercised? John Paul II canonized 482 saints in 26 years (apparently a record number).  Benedict XVI canonized 45 saints in 7 years.  Francis has canonized 29 saints plus 812 companions of one of those, in his three years so far as pope.

I think it’s fair to say that papal priorities are revealed by papal actions. In this case, the priority of the papacy is clearly on the veneration of the deceased, rather than on the study and interpretation of Scripture.  In the lifetime of most of my readers, the popes have never once infallibly interpreted Scripture but have allegedly infallibly canonized saints literally hundreds of times.

Roman Catholic apologists may say we need the popes to understand the Scriptures, but Roman Catholic practice demonstrates that announcing saints for veneration is far more central to the actual papal role.

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Pope Francis on Luther on June 26, 2016

June 28, 2016

Pope Francis was interviewed aboard an airplane on June 26, 2016. In that interview he expressed the position that Luther was right about justification. Before we get too excited, though, please consider the statement in its full context:

Kleinjung: Holy Father, I wanted to ask you a question. Today you spoke of the gifts of the shared Churches, of the gifts shared by the Churches together. Seeing that you will go in I believe four months to Lund for the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the reformation, I think perhaps this is also the right moment for us not only to remember the wounds on both sides but also to recognize the gifts of the reformation. Perhaps also – this is a heretical question – perhaps to annul or withdraw the excommunication of Martin Luther or of some sort of rehabilitation. Thank you.

Pope Francis: I think that the intentions of Martin Luther were not mistaken. He was a reformer. Perhaps some methods were not correct. But in that time, if we read the story of the Pastor, a German Lutheran who then converted when he saw reality – he became Catholic – in that time, the Church was not exactly a model to imitate. There was corruption in the Church, there was worldliness, attachment to money, to power…and this he protested. Then he was intelligent and took some steps forward justifying, and because he did this. And today Lutherans and Catholics, Protestants, all of us agree on the doctrine of justification. On this point, which is very important, he did not err. He made a medicine for the Church, but then this medicine consolidated into a state of things, into a state of a discipline, into a way of believing, into a way of doing, into a liturgical way and he wasn’t alone; there was Zwingli, there was Calvin, each one of them different, and behind them were who? Principals! We must put ourselves in the story of that time. It’s a story that’s not easy to understand, not easy. Then things went forward, and today the dialogue is very good. That document of justification I think is one of the richest ecumenical documents in the world, one in most agreement. But there are divisions, and these also depend on the Churches. In Buenos Aires there were two Lutheran churches, and one thought in one way and the other…even in the same Lutheran church there was no unity; but they respected each other, they loved each other, and the difference is perhaps what hurt all of us so badly and today we seek to take up the path of encountering each other after 500 years. I think that we have to pray together, pray. Prayer is important for this. Second, to work together for the poor, for the persecuted, for many people, for refugees, for the many who suffer; to work together and pray together and the theologians who study together try…but this is a long path, very long. One time jokingly I said: I know when full unity will happen. – “when?” – “the day after the Son of Man comes,” because we don’t know…the Holy Spirit will give the grace, but in the meantime, praying, loving each other and working together. Above all for the poor, for the people who suffer and for peace and many things…against the exploitation of people and many things in which they are jointly working together.

Some thoughts:
1) Notice that Francis doesn’t make any promises regarding revitalizing Luther, even though that was what was asked.
2) Instead, Francis focuses primarily on ecuminism.
3) Although Francis appears to believe that Lutherans, Protestants, and Roman Catholics all agree on justification (“all of us agree on the doctrine of justification. On this point, which is very important, he did not err.”) his apparent basis for believing this is is the joint statement on justification, one which he acknowledges expresses divisions as well as agreement: “today the dialogue is very good. That document of justification I think is one of the richest ecumenical documents in the world, one in most agreement. But there are divisions, … .”
4) Moreover, neither that document nor this statement repudiates Trent’s denial of justification by faith alone.

So, what the Pope means by agreement with Luther on justification is not something Luther would count as agreement. It is a very high level agreement, such as is found in the “joint statement on justification,” and not one that addresses what Luther saw as the central point of the Reformation.

-TurretinFan

We are all children of God? Pope vs. Jesus

January 8, 2016

In his first video, Pope Francis asserts: “In this crowd, in this range of religions, there is only one certainty we have for all: we are all children of God.”

But Jesus’ rebuttal of this view is set forth in John’s gospel:

John 8:39-47
They answered and said unto him, “Abraham is our father.”

Jesus saith unto them, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father.”

Then said they to him, “We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.”

Jesus said unto them, “If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.”

Neither the pope nor the followers of the other religions he cites in the video (Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, etc.) are children of God. If God were their Father, they would love Jesus and hold to Jesus’ words. But the others explicitly reject Jesus as God, and while the pope claims to follow Jesus, he contradicts Jesus’ clear teachings.

Contrast that with our situation as the sons of God, distinct from the world, a privilege bestowed by the Father through the power of the Spirit and faith in Christ our Savior:

Romans 8:14-17
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Romans 9:8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

Romans 9:26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

Galatians 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

-TurretinFan

Mariolatry and Externals

March 7, 2014

Francis of Rome on March 5, 2014, as reported by the Vatican Information Service (VIS) statesd:

We get used to living in a society that claims to be able to do without God, in which parents do not teach their children how to pray or how to make the sign of the Cross. This inurement to forms of behaviour that are not Christian, that are the easy way, anaesthetise the heart!” He asked the faithful present, “Do your children know how to make the sign of the Cross? Do they know how to pray the Our Father or the Hail Mary?”.

The Marian devotion is sad but unsurprising. Still, the blatant emphasis on something so purely external as making the sign of the cross should really be shocking to people who think that the focus of Roman Catholicism is the same as that of Christianity.

And again, on the same day, Francis is reported as saying that people should:

… invoke with particular trust the protection and help of the Virgin Mary, so that she, the first believer in Christ, might accompany us in days of intense and penitential prayer, to allow us to celebrate, purified and renewed in spirit, the great Paschal mystery of her Son

Mary was not the first believer in Jesus Christ. Recall that Jesus himself said:

John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

Likewise, in recounting the martyrs, Jesus said:

Luke 11:51 From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.

Similarly, Hebrews recounts the examples of faith in the Old Testament up to Sara and says:

Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

But the errors don’t stop there. There is no reason to supposed that Mary can provide protection or help. There is no reason to suppose that Mary can accompany us. Furthermore, Mary’s permission or help is not needed for us to celebrate the paschal mystery.

-TurretinFan

Evangelii Gaudium – the BBC Has Overstated the Pope’s Liberal Leanings

November 26, 2013

BBC News has the headline: “Pope Francis calls for power to move away from Vatican” and the opening line: “Pope Francis has called for power in the Catholic Church to be devolved away from the Vatican, in the first major work he has written in the role.”

The document in question, Evangelii Gaudium (“Gospel’s Joy”) purports to be an apostolic exhortation. The document does state, at section 32, “Excessive centralization, rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church’s life and her missionary outreach.” I cannot find anywhere in the document the idea of actually removing power from the Vatican. There are several favorably mentions of the Second Vatican Council, but nothing opposing ultramontanism even to the extent that the Second Vatican Council attempted.

There are some other interesting aspects to the document. For example, it was interesting to see Garry Wills’ point about the power of the ministerial priesthood arising from the Eucharist. Section 104 states: “Its [the ministerial priesthood’s] key and axis is not power understood as domination, but the power to administer the sacrament of the Eucharist; this is the origin of its authority, which is always a service to God’s people.” Wills would, I think, respond that the power to administer the Eucharist naturally progresses into a power of domination, particularly when the power is discretionary.

Sections 147 and 148 are also interesting in terms of their relationship to exegesis:

147. First of all, we need to be sure that we understand the meaning of the words we read. I want to insist here on something which may seem obvious, but which is not always taken into account: the biblical text which we study is two or three thousand years old; its language is very different from that which we speak today. Even if we think we understand the words translated into our own language, this does not mean that we correctly understand what the sacred author wished to say. The different tools provided by literary analysis are well known: attention to words which are repeated or emphasized, recognition of the structure and specific movement of a text, consideration of the role played by the different characters, and so forth. But our own aim is not to understand every little detail of a text; our most important goal is to discover its principal message, the message which gives structure and unity to the text. If the preacher does not make this effort, his preaching will quite likely have neither unity nor order; what he has to say will be a mere accumulation of various disjointed ideas incapable of inspiring others. The central message is what the author primarily wanted to communicate; this calls for recognizing not only the author’s ideas but the effect which he wanted to produce. If a text was written to console, it should not be used to correct errors; if it was written as an exhortation, it should not be employed to teach doctrine; if it was written to teach something about God, it should not be used to expound various theological opinions; if it was written as a summons to praise or missionary outreach, let us not use it to talk about the latest news.

148. Certainly, to understand properly the meaning of the central message of a text we need to relate it to the teaching of the entire Bible as handed on by the Church. This is an important principle of biblical interpretation which recognizes that the Holy Spirit has inspired not just a part of the Bible, but the Bible as a whole, and that in some areas people have grown in their understanding of God’s will on the basis of their personal experience. It also prevents erroneous or partial interpretations which would contradict other teachings of the same Scriptures. But it does not mean that we can weaken the distinct and specific emphasis of a text which we are called to preach. One of the defects of a tedious and ineffectual preaching is precisely its inability to transmit the intrinsic power of the text which has been proclaimed.

It is interesting to hear Francis’ comments. He seems to be acknowledging that literary analysis is legitimate for figuring out the meaning of the text in section 147. In section 148, Francis is careful to add the qualifier “as handed on by the Church” (presumably modifying “teaching” not “Bible”). Still, fundamentally Francis seems to be recognizing that while people can misunderstand the text, they can use literary analysis to figure out what it means. This means that even if a “church” is helpful in analyzing the text, it is not necessary — the text has intrinsic power and self-demonstrating meaning.

Section 22 similarly acknowledges the superior power of the word to the church:

22. God’s word is unpredictable in its power. The Gospel speaks of a seed which, once sown, grows by itself, even as the farmer sleeps (Mk 4:26-29). The Church has to accept this unruly freedom of the word, which accomplishes what it wills in ways that surpass our calculations and ways of thinking.

It’s great for Francis to make these concessions, and it helps to undermine the traditional error of Roman Catholicism in treating “the Church” as a necessary gatekeeper and mouthpiece for the Word.

The RC pope may not be as liberal as the BBC portrays him, but he expresses a position a lot closer to “Protestantism” than some of his predecessors.

-TurretinFan

Irony of Idolatry in Francis of Rome’s Remarks and the Split Tenth Commandment

June 13, 2013

Francis of Rome recently was reported as saying (VIS, 9 June 2013): “We shouldn’t see the Ten Commandments as restriction upon our freedom; no, not that way. We should see them as signs for our freedom. … They teach us how to avoid the slavery to which the many idols that we ourselves build reduce us.” (ellipsis was in VIS report)

Francis is right that the commandments ought not to be viewed positively and not exclusively negatively.  They are, of course, both restrictions and duties.  Thus, we really ought to ask both “what is commanded” and “what is forbidden” by each of the commandments, as the Westminster standards helpfully analyze them.

The irony of Francis’ statement is that Rome is full of idols (representations of God).  Rome actually misnumbers the commandments to avoid having to get rid of her idols. Specifically, she bundles the second into the first, as though we were only forbidden to make idols of false gods and not also of the true God. To maintain the number ten, she splits the tenth into two commandments.

This misnumbering can easily be seen to be wrong. The first giving of the commandments does phrase the tenth this way:

Exodus 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

לֹ֥א תַחְמֹ֖ד בֵּ֣ית רֵעֶ֑ךָ לֹֽא־תַחְמֹ֞ד אֵ֣שֶׁת רֵעֶ֗ךָ וְעַבְדֹּ֤ו וַאֲמָתֹו֙ וְשֹׁורֹ֣ו וַחֲמֹרֹ֔ו וְכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר לְרֵעֶֽךָ׃ פ

Thus, there are two “thou shalt not” phrases, but they are both on the same topic of coveting. Moreover, it is strange that the house should get special separate treatment, while the wife should get bundled in with the slaves, cattle and miscellaneous other possessions.

In the second giving, the wording is slightly different:

Deuteronomy 5:21 Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour’s wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

וְלֹ֥א תַחְמֹ֖ד אֵ֣שֶׁת רֵעֶ֑ךָ סוְלֹ֨א תִתְאַוֶּ֜ה בֵּ֣ית רֵעֶ֗ךָ שָׂדֵ֜הוּ וְעַבְדֹּ֤ו וַאֲמָתֹו֙ שֹׁורֹ֣ו וַחֲמֹרֹ֔ו וְכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר לְרֵעֶֽךָ׃

Here the wife (rather than the house) gets special treatment, while the house gets mixed in with the slaves, cattle, fields, and other possessions.

Moreover, that the 7th commandment already prohibits lust can be seen from Jesus admonition:

Matthew 5:28But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Likewise, speaking of coveting, the class of coveted things is generally undifferentiated.  Most tellingly, when Paul refers to the commandments he does not differentiate two types of covetousness:

Romans 13:9For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Some may object that the division between the first and the second is artificial and the two should be joined. First, the division between the first and the second is quite clear.  In the first giving, it is written (combining them, to give every benefit to our objectors):

Exodus 20:3-6
Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

In the second giving, it is written (again, combining them):

Deuteronomy 5:7-10Thou shalt have none other gods before me. Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

While it is understandable how someone might think these are connected, the making and bowing down clearly refer to images.  By contrast, the having can refer not to images but to gods.  Thus, this situation is unlike the bizarre parsing of the 10th, where the same command is expressed of differing lists of possessions in different givings.  Rather, there are different commands regarding different objects.

That the prohibition against idols is a prohibition against images of the true God can be seen from the explanation provided in Deuteronomy 4:

Deuteronomy 4:11-19
And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness. And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice.
And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone. And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it.
Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, the likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: and lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.

The reference to not seeing a likeness is specifically relevant to the true God.  Indeed, the thick darkness blotted out even the sun, moon, and stars.  Thus, we ought to worship the unseen God without images of any kind.

That remained true even though God did sometimes reveal himself visually (such as when he came to Abraham, when he wrestled with Jacob, when he spoke to Moses face to face, or when he greeted Joshua, among other examples).  Thus, we should not make the error of some of the ancients who tried to justify making images of males and identifying them as Jesus on the ground that Jesus had indeed come as a man and walked among us.

-TurretinFan

Francis of Rome on Atheists and Redemption

June 2, 2013

Francis of Rome was recently reported speaking about good works and atheism:

Wednesday’s Gospel speaks to us about the disciples who prevented a person from outside their group from doing good. “They complain,” the Pope said in his homily, because they say, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” And Jesus corrects them: “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.” The disciples, Pope Francis explains, “were a little intolerant,” closed off by the idea of ​​possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.” “This was wrong . . . Jesus broadens the horizon.” Pope Francis said, “The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation”:

“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. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him. Instead, this ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.”

“Instead,” the Pope continued, “the Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in the depths of our heart: do good and do not do evil”:

“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! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. 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.”

“Doing good” the Pope explained, is not a matter of faith: “It is a duty, it is an identity card that our Father has given to all of us, because He has made us in His image and likeness. And He does good, always.”

Where is Francis of Rome correct?

Atheists can do civil good. They can outwardly conform to the law of God in a variety of ways. They can (and many do) give to the poor. They can (and nearly all do) abstain from killing their neighbors. These things do not fully comply with the law of God, because they do not arise from right motives. Nevertheless, we sometimes refer to these deeds as good in view of their outward conformity to the law of God.

That we do good to our neighbors is written in the law. The second great commandment commands us to do good to our neighbor. Moreover, the parable of the good Samaritan commends to us the activities of an unbeliever, as an example of what our behavior should be. Thus, there is Biblical warrant for using the actions of unbelievers as examples of (partial, outward) compliance with God’s law.

Atheists have the law of God written on their heart. They have a conscience. That which may be known of God is manifest to them, for God has shown it to them. That conscience may be seared. The image of God may be damaged, distorted, and perverted, but it is there.

Where has Francis of Rome erred?

Francis was wrong to say that all are redeemed. The Israelites were redeemed – the Egyptians were not. By analogy, the elect are redeemed, the reprobate are not.

Francis was wrong to say that we are all “children of God of the first class.” There may be some sense in which all humans are God’s children, but not in the highest sense. Recall that Jesus himself compared the Jews to God’s children and the non-Jews to dogs. There is a distinction between the people of God and those outside the people of God.

Response to Some Objections

Some of Rome’s apologists will respond, like Bryan Cross:

It is important, as you mentioned, to distinguish between redemption accomplished objectively, and redemption applied subjectively. Pope Francis was speaking of the former when saying that Christ has redeemed all men, and therefore not implying universalism.

Bryan may be right to insist on that distinction, but Francis is not making that distinction – he’s arguing that the “this Blood makes us children of God.” The consistent reference to “us” in Francis’ lecture is everyone, and specifically not just Roman Catholics. The blood acting on subjects to make them something is not simply objective redemption accomplished, contrary to Bryan’s wish.

Jason Stellman, recent apostate/revert to Rome (it is unclear if he was baptized RC or not) put it this way:

Again, it’s not that “our sins are paid for” in the sense Protestants think of it (i.e., God imputing our guilt to Christ, pouring out his wrath upon him, and then imputing his righteousness to us). So the reason redemption accomplished doesn’t imply redemption applied is that the former doesn’t mean for Catholics what it does for Protestants. Jesus did not suffer divine anger and retribution for a certain group of people who then cannot but be saved. Rather, he recapitulated Adamic humanity in himself by offering a sacrifice that pleased the Father more than our sins displeased him. When seen in this way, redemption applied ceases to be a foregone conclusion and actually becomes something we must actively pursue through faith and the sacraments.

Expressing the recapitulation theory this way, however, doesn’t rescue Francis. Francis is talking about something that has been applied to people, not something that is merely available to people.

Jimmy Akin similarly says:

So far so good: Christ redeemed all of us, making it possible for every human to be saved.

That is not what Francis said, though. Francis did not say simply that it was possible for them to be saved, but that this redemption had made them children of God “of the first class.”

Jimmy Akin continued:

We can be called children of God in several senses. One of them is merely be being created as rational beings made in God’s image. Another is by becoming Christian. Another sense (used in the Old Testament) is connected with righteous behavior. And there can be other senses as well.

Here Pope Francis may be envisioning a sense in which we can be called children of God because Christ redeemed us, even apart from embracing that redemption by becoming Christian.

Had Francis not added “of the first class,” then this avenue might be available. Yet Francis talked about them being made children of the first class.

Mark Shea took umbrage with the way the story was reported in HuffPo (and who can blame him). However, Shea (and Andrew Preslar) helpfully pointed out that CCC 605 specifically states, “There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer,” quoting from the regional council of Council of Quiercy of 853, as reported in Denzinger’s Sources at item 624 (Latin numbering, corresponding to item 319 in the English). That original source stated:

316 Chap. 1. Omnipotent God created man noble without sin with a free will, and he whom He wished to remain in the sanctity of justice, He placed in Paradise. Man using his free will badly sinned and fell, and became the “mass of perdition” of the entire human race. The just and good God, however, chose from this same mass of perdition according to His foreknowledge those whom through grace He predestined to life [ Rom. 8:29 ff.; Eph. 1:11], and He predestined for these eternal life; the others, whom by the judgment of justice he left in the mass of perdition,* however, He knew would perish, but He did not predestine that they would perish, because He is just; however, He predestined eternal punishment for them. And on account of this we speak of only one predestination of God, which pertains either to the gift of grace or to the retribution of justice.

317 Chap. 2. The freedom of will which we lost in the first man, we have received back through Christ our Lord; and we have free will for good, preceded and aided by grace, and we have free will for evil, abandoned by grace. Moreover, because freed by grace and by grace healed from corruption, we have free will.

318 Chap. 3. Omnipotent God wishes all men without exception to be saved [1 Tim. 2:4] although not all will be saved. However, that certain ones are saved, is the gift of the one who saves; that certain ones perish, however, is the deserved punishment of those who perish.

319 Chap. 4. Christ Jesus our Lord, as no man who is or has been or ever will be whose nature will not have been assumed in Him, so there is, has been, or will be no man, for whom He has not suffered- although not all will be saved by the mystery of His passion. But because all are not redeemed by the mystery of His passion, He does not regard the greatness and the fullness of the price, but He regards the part of the unfaithful ones and those not believing in faith those things which He has worked through love [Gal. 5:6], because the drink of human safety, which has been prepared by our infirmity and by divine strength, has indeed in itself that it may be beneficial to all; but if it is not drunk, it does not heal.

Setting aside the problems of this nearly Arminian/Amyraldian view of the atonement, notice that this text does state that Jesus suffered in some sense for all, but simultaneously states that “all are not redeemed.”

Moreover, redemption is (in the Bible) explicitly expressed in terms of distinction:

Revelation 14:3-4
And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

Moreover, redemption is expressed as the basis for the effectual call:

Zechariah 10:8
I will hiss for them, and gather them; for I have redeemed them: and they shall increase as they have increased.

Stellman tries to defend the claim of universal redemption by citing:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Col. 1:15-20).

The problem with an appeal to that text is that if Stellman is saying that “all things” there refers to each and every human being that ever was or will be, and he is saying that this passage refers not just to a desire but something actually done, then he’s stuck with saying that God reconciles all men to himself and is at peace with them. In what sense, then, could they said to be “children of wrath”? No, the attempted justification cannot stand.

Finally, note Francis’ concluding prayer:

“Today is [the feast of] Santa Rita, Patron Saint of impossible things – but this seems impossible: let us ask of her this grace, this grace that all, all, all people would do good and that we would encounter one another in this work, which is a work of creation, like the creation of the Father. A work of the family, because we are all children of God, all of us, all of us! And God loves us, all of us! May Santa Rita grant us this grace, which seems almost impossible. Amen.”

In this prayer (to Rita) he asks (of her, not of God) grace to do something that allegedly by created nature and redemption they already can do, namely good works. Moreover, Francis insists on a universal love of God, and asserts that we are all children of God, as he had already done in his homily. I would just note finally how this teaching by Francis eviscerates the doctrine of adoption.

John 1:12
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

1 John 3:1-2
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Francis is wrong on redemption and wrong on adoption.

-TurretinFan

The Other Thing Francis of Rome Said … about Killing in the Name of God

May 27, 2013

Francis of Rome recently made some comments about atheists that got a lot of attention, but in the process people missed a bigger point. Francis stated:

Instead, this ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.

(source)

But Urban II stated (1095):

On this account I, or rather the Lord, beseech you as Christ’s heralds to publish this everywhere and to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends. I say this to those who are present, it meant also for those who are absent. Moreover, Christ commands it.

All who die by the way, whether by land or by sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. This I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested. O what a disgrace if such a despised and base race, which worships demons, should conquer a people which has the faith of omnipotent God and is made glorious with the name of Christ! With what reproaches will the Lord overwhelm us if you do not aid those who, with us, profess the Christian religion! Let those who have been accustomed unjustly to wage private warfare against the faithful now go against the infidels and end with victory this war which should have been begun long ago. Let those who for a long time, have been robbers, now become knights. Let those who have been fighting against their brothers and relatives now fight in a proper way against the barbarians. Let those who have been serving as mercenaries for small pay now obtain the eternal reward. Let those who have been wearing themselves out in both body and soul now work for a double honor. Behold! on this side will be the sorrowful and poor, on that, the rich; on this side, the enemies of the Lord, on that, his friends. Let those who go not put off the journey, but rent their lands and collect money for their expenses; and as soon as winter is over and spring comes, let hem eagerly set out on the way with God as their guide.”

(As reported by Fulcher of Chartres)

And Eugene III stated (1154):

We exhort therefore all of you in God, we ask and command, and, for the remission of sins enjoin: that those who are of God, and, above all, the greater men and the nobles do manfully gird themselves; and that you strive so to oppose the multitude of the infidels, who rejoice at the time in a victory gained over us, and so to defend the oriental church -freed from their tyranny by so great an outpouring of the blood of your fathers, as we have said, – and to snatch many thousands of your captive brothers from their hands,- that the dignity of the Christian name may be increased in your time, and that your valour which is praised throughout the whole world, may remain intact and unshaken. May that good Matthias be an example to you, who, to preserve the laws of his fathers, did not in the least doubt to expose himself with his sons and relations to death, and to leave whatever he possessed in the world; and who at length, by the help of the divine aid, after many labours however, did, as well as his progeny, manfully triumph over his enemies.

We, moreover, providing with paternal solicitude for your tranquillity and for the destitution of that same church, do grant and confirm by the authority conceded to us of God, to those who by the promptings of devotion do decide to undertake and to carry through so holy and so necessary a work and labour, that remission of sins which our aforesaid predecessor pope Urban did institute; and do decree that their wives and sons, their goods also and possessions shall remain under the protection of our selves and of the archbishops, bishops and other prelates of the church of God.

(source)

Moreover, Innocent III stated (1215):

Aspiring with ardent desire to liberate the Holy Land from the hands of the ungodly, by the counssel of prudent men Who fully know he circumstances of times and places the holy council approving: we decree that the crusaders shall so prepare themselves that, at the Calends of the June following the next one, all who have arranged to cross by sea shall come together in the kingdom of Sicily; some, as shall be convenient and fitting, at Brindisi, and others at Messina and the places adjoining on both sides where we also have arranged then to be present in person if God wills it, in order that by our counsel and aid the Christian army may be healthfully arranged, about to start with the divine and apostolic benediction.

1. Against the same term, also, those who have decided to go by land shall endeavour to make themselves ready; announcing to us, in the meantime, this determination, so that we may grant them, for counsel and aid, a suitable legate from our side.

2. Priests, moreover, and other clergy who shall be in the Christian army, subordinates as well as prelates, shall diligently insist with prayer and exhortation, reaching the crusaders by word and example alike that they should always have the divine fear and love before their eves, and that they should not say or do anything which might offend the divine majesty. Although at times they may lapse into sin, through true penitence they shall soon arise again; showing humility of heart and body, and observing moderation as well in their living as in their apparel; altogether avoiding dissensions and emulations; rancour and spleen being entirely removed from them. So that, thus armed with spiritual and material weapons, they may fight the more securely against the enemies of the faith; not presuming in their own power, but hoping in the divine virtue.

(source)

So, are popes Urban II, Eugene III, and Innocent III all blasphemers, or is Francis out of step with the tradition of Rome?

But it gets worse. Recall the instructions to Jehu:

2 Kings 9:6-10
And he arose, and went into the house; and he poured the oil on his head, and said unto him, “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, ‘I have anointed thee king over the people of the Lord, even over Israel. And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel: and I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah: and the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her.'” And he opened the door, and fled.

Was that prophet a blasphemer?

What about this prophet:

Deuteronomy 20:16-18
But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: but thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee: that they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the Lord your God.

Is Moses a blasphemer? But the cruelest irony of all:

Leviticus 24:16
And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.

The words of Francis of Rome do not just contradict a trio of his predecessors, they contradict the law and the prophets. They contradict the Word of God.

In the next post, Lord Willing, we’ll encounter Francis’ comments about atheists, but it seems worthwhile pointing out the modernist context that surrounds Francis’ comments about atheists and atheism.

-TurretinFan

"It is not Possible to find Jesus Outside the Church"

April 23, 2013

Pope Francis in today’s homily stated (Vatican Radio translation):

And so the Church was a Mother, the Mother of more children, of many children. It became more and more of a Mother. A Mother who gives us the faith, a Mother who gives us an identity. But the Christian identity is not an identity card: Christian identity is belonging to the Church, because all of these belonged to the Church, the Mother Church. Because it is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church. The great Paul VI said: “Wanting to live with Jesus without the Church, following Jesus outside of the Church, loving Jesus without the Church is an absurd dichotomy.” And the Mother Church that gives us Jesus gives us our identity that is not only a seal, it is a belonging. Identity means belonging. This belonging to the Church is beautiful.

I want you to note that line, “it is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church.” There we have an exclusivistic note that we have not noticed in the past few pontiffs.

I can’t predict whether this statement will be qualified to death, or not. However, taking the statement as stated, how can there be “separated brethren”? Are they “brethren” who are separated from Jesus? If so, in what sense are they brethren? Likewise, if people are potentially saved “outside the church,” then are they not saved through Jesus?

Francis’ statement seems to fit better with traditional thought than with the modern inclusivisitic statements we’ve heard from a variety of cardinals. Recall Cardinal George talking about how Mormonism and Roman Catholicism have a “common ground” in Jesus (link). Likewise, recall Cardinal Pell suggesting that hell may be empty or nearly empty (link). Neither of these ideas fits well with what Francis is saying.

I will say this, Francis and Paul VI would be right on the point where he is quoted, if “church” were properly understood as the visible church (composed of all gospel-preaching churches) and if this were described as the general rule. In other words, our love of Christ should lead us to unity with the brethren in the churches. However, except those of us who grow up in the church, we come to faith in Christ outside the church and therefore join ourselves with the churches.

Moreover, Jesus is found in Scripture. The church ought faithfully to proclaim the Scripture and particularly the Gospel, but Jesus can be found and has been found by many outside the visible church, through the work of the Spirit opening their eyes, ears, and heart to the proclamation of the Gospel.

-TurretinFan


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