Skip to comments.Pope Francis and his Protestant views
Posted on 06/13/2013 12:40:22 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
I often tell people that if you lose your way in Reformed Tradition (read Presbyterian) theology, you can always go back to square one, which says, in essence, this: God is sovereign.
Or -- in wording I prefer now because most of us have no experience living under a sovereign -- God is gloriously free.
I thought about that the other day when I read something Pope Francis said in a book he co-authored in 2010 as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Speaking about how he would converse with an atheist, Bergoglio wrote: "I would not tell him that his life is condemned because I am convinced that I have no right to pass judgment."
That, friends, is Reformed Tradition theology. It is up to God to determine who will have eternal life. It is not up to us. Even if you go to Reformed Tradition founder John Calvin's hard-to-follow concepts about predestination (to say nothing of double predestination), you discover that no human being can know for certain who is saved and who is condemned.
This very point once led my friend Kathleen Norris to write this in her book Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith: "It strikes me that only a French lawyer could have come up with so complex, if not bizarre, a justification for treating all people as if they could be among the elect, the chosen of God."
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She's right. Even if you buy Calvinism's some-get-saved, some-get-damned-and-there's-nothing-you-can-do-about-it scheme, you don't know who is who, so you have to be nice to everyone on the theory that you may spend eternity with that person.
Which is pretty much what Bergoglio was saying in On Heaven and Earth, co-written with Rabbi Abraham Skorka.
When I read what Bergoglio said on this subject, I had a provocative thought that I was tempted to throw into the lede of this column. Something like this: "Hey, Catholics: Do you know what you've done? You've chosen a Protestant pope."
But the day after I read the pope's words, I discovered that someone had beat me to that conclusion. Writer Jonathan Merritt asked this question about Pope Francis in this Religion News Service piece: "... could the growing popularity (of Francis) among non-Catholics make him 'the first Protestant Pope?' "
Merritt added this: "The combination of the new Pope's concern for justice issues and his conservative theology seems to be appealing to many of these socially conscious Protestants." (I like what Merritt said, though I'm not happy he got the idea that Francis may be the first Protestant pope into print before I did. But let it go.)
Those of us in mainline Protestant churches (Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, etc.) have been long on social justice concerns and short on respect for hierarchical governance structures and fancy ritual.
We pay a price for this emphasis, but it's one we've been willing to pay. And it now appears to many of us that the new pope is intent on moving the Catholic church a bit closer to this Protestant approach.
Perhaps we could meet in the middle. We Protestants will add more ritual and you Catholics can decentralize your governance structure as together we wash the feet of the poor.
I know that sounds a bit facetious, but I'm serious. There is much we can learn from each other, and the learning of it might move us closer to some kind of reunification (at least of spirit) nearly 500 years after Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the cathedral door, thus (inadvertently) starting the Protestant Reformation.
We Protestants don't have our own pope to negotiate a grand bargain with Francis, but if he's really the first Protestant pope, problem solved. All we Protestants and you Catholics need to do to start is pay attention to the times he's standing on our common ground and join him there.
....Those of us in mainline Protestant churches (Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, etc.) have been long on social justice concerns and short on respect for hierarchical governance structures and fancy ritual. We pay a price for this emphasis, but it's one we've been willing to pay. And it now appears to many of us that the new pope is intent on moving the Catholic church a bit closer to this Protestant approach.
In the interest of full disclosure, the article is written by a current PC(USA) church elder, whose writings are regularly published in the National Catholic Fishwrap.
Interesting ~ BTW, having met many Catholics in charitable works and institutions, and in my own family, I’m pretty sure they are not in league with the devil. But, anyway, the first non-Eastern European Protestants were all Roman Catholics ~ of course they have the same qualities of thought. Bet we all pray for the safety and well being of the underground church in China too.
A Protestant who is interested in becoming Catholic would do well to find better sources of information than the “Orthodox” “Presbyterian” “Church” or the notoriously non-Catholic National “Catholic” Reporter.
I figured that, since John Allen's NCR columns are still being posted on FR, there must be a number of Catholic FReepers who are subscribers. I'm guessing that they'll recognize this article.
That is also Catholic theology. We canonize, but we do not demonize. And we canonize only if God gives us a sign. He is the Judge; He alone.
I haven’t seen an article by him posted since 2005.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Somebody’s confused here. I didn’t say Catholicism has to reform to align with the Scriptures. Are you thinking of somebody else?
"I would not tell him that his life is condemned because I am convinced that I have no right to pass judgment."... That, friends, is Reformed Tradition theology. It is up to God to determine who will have eternal life. It is not up to us".
How about 95% extra-strength but not ultimate-cleaning-power demonize (in the case of abortionists and other conspicuous grave sinners). There is always the chance they repent or something. The 5% benefit-of-the-doubt is generous, in the spirit of Christian charity.
Yep. The author is ignorant of this and even more ignorant in trying to spin it into Calvinist double predestination - which is *not* Catholic theology.
I belong to an Evangelcial Free church and really think highly of Pope Francis. I grew up in Catholic grade and high school and taught CCD. Pope Francis’s life; actions and outreach to other Christian faiths, is something I had never seen before. I’ve always said we are not in Ireland, Catholics and Christians need to stand up for one another. I look at the Catholic Church as I do other denomination; Luthern, Baptist.....We all have the same God; God the Father, God the Son & God the Holy Spirit. We do have some differences, but more thing in common than not. In this world, we are stronger when we call one another brother and sister.
Although ultimately it is up to God in every circumstance, Pope Francis (then Cardinal Bergoglio) said something that made it seem as if there is no need for this atheist to convert. I mean, God "could" after all save him anyway.
The Pope did not make it clear that the best way to achieve salvation is by becoming Catholic. But this sort of rhetoric is nothing new.
Next paragraph, right after the quote, I remarked that this is also Catholic Theology: it is up to God to determine who will have eternal life.
In other words, in this instance, Reformed Theology agrees with what Catholic Theology has always taught.
I did not say that "Catholicism has to reform to align with the scriptures." I don't know where you got that.
Everybody can (and should) say that abortion and any other killing of an innocent person is a damnable sin. Anyone who commits this grave, mortal sin knowingly and willingly, and does not repent, is fit for hell.
This is a terrifying truth.
But nobody should say that Kermit Gosnell or Tamerlan Tsarnaev or Josef Stalin or anybody else by name is in hell or definitely going to hell. Because we cannot know the inner state of their souls.
That's why we pray for Gosnell and Tsarnaev and all murderers living and dead.
As recommended by the Angel of Fatima:
"O my Jesus, forgive us our sins,
Save us from the fires of hell.
Lead all souls to heaven,
Especially those most in need of Thy mercy."