Monday, October 5, 2015

Papal Ponderings

Pope Francis has come and gone. The church in the USA remains the same. After all the pomp and circumstance we are left with the vast variety of problems that we had prior to his visit.

I'm not surprised that many American Roman Catholics were thrilled to have Jorge Bergoglio (his real name) on U.S. soil. He has been lauded by many as a Pope who is willing to change things for the better. In some situations this is, in fact, true. For example, this particular pontiff shuns some of the ceremonial nonsense that normally goes along with his position.

In addition, Jorge truly does appear to care for the poor and downtrodden in society at large. Furthermore, he speaks out in favor of peace, for which I am grateful. Finally, the Pope not only accepts but also recognizes at least some of the Roman Catholic abuses of the past; he recently apologized for Rome's vicious persecution of the Waldensians in the years leading up to and during the Protestant Reformation.

In light of all this, should we be thrilled? Should we even consider, as many evangelicals now do, this Pope to be our brother in Christ?

Despite some of his outward uniqueness, Pope Francis has not been willing to change one thing about Roman Catholicism that never changes: Roman dogma. The Council of Trent showed us this hundreds of years ago. As a reaction to the Reformation, the Catholics gathered on and off over the course of eighteen years to basically say, "We still believe what we've always believed." Rome does not compromise or change any of its theological positions. It still has seven sacraments. It still celebrates the Mass. Most troubling, it continues to reject salvation by grace alone through faith alone.

Put simply, this Pope continues to believe the Roman gospel, which is a different gospel from the one clearly taught in the Bible. Therefore, this Pope cannot be a true follower of Christ despite his outward actions.

On a related note, Pope Francis is not a big fan of definitions. This leaves things messy. While he speaks much about the social side of life, his statements on theological matters are unclear at best. We are left to assume that he believes what Rome always has.

Finally, Jorge remains at the epicenter of THE largest church institution on the planet. If there is one position on earth that exemplifies all that is wrong with the leadership, authority, and power that has warped the church into an institutional framework, it is the papacy. The Pope is the hub.

In the end, little has changed. Although this new Pope does some things differently, he still rejects the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the key issue.

To learn more of the excesses of the Pope and the Vatican, watch the two videos below:

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