Has unification of Roman Catholics and the Evangelical Church really happened? To some people, it would seem like it.
I found out that Pope Francis addressed Kenneth Copeland’s southwest believers conference via a friend’s Facebook status who attended the conference. (I have been updated that I was incorrect about the conference. It was actually a ministers conference, not the Southwest believers convention. And it also was not a live video feed or something like that. It was pre-recorded from an iPhone from someone who works within the Catholic Church.)
The post was one of excitement and awe that the Pope addressed their conference through live video feed. The following comments were ones of similar joy and excitement over the fact that the Pope addressed them. Now I do not know what exactly he said, although I would like to, but what exactly he said is not the point here.
I have also seen hundreds of positive comments from evangelicals about the new Pope, with almost no one saying, hold on a minute, maybe something is bit off here. Why are followers of Jesus Christ of the new testament getting so excited about the Pope saying a few words at conference? Am I the only one who see’s a real problem with this? Are we amazed at his celebrity status? Amazed that Christ’s authority in the earth, who Roman Catholic doctrine states him to be, has stooped down to say hi to a lowly Copeland conference?
I see a MAJOR problem with a trend of brotherhood among evangelicals with Pope Francis. You may disagree and see the exact opposite at what is occurring and see the body of Christ coming together in unity. Now listen, I am all for the unification of the body of Christ! I love what my reformed, baptist, methodist, Church of God, Assemblies of God and all other camps within Christianity have to offer. I have learned and continue to learn much from brothers of different views than mine. I am 100% for the body of Christ coming together, putting aside our NON-ESSENTIAL doctrinal differences for the goal of glorifying God and making disciples of Jesus in all the earth.
What I am not for is trying to unify the body of Christ on the basis of non essential doctrines with those who do not hold to the ESSENTIAL doctrines that make the church of Christ the church of Christ. Kenneth Copeland and others who see Pope Francis as a brother in Christ and asset to the kingdom of God do so based mostly on the fact that he believes in charismatic gifts (non-essentials) and people who have known him say he is a genuine, humble man. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are wonderful and greatly needed to bring real revival among the world. But they are not essential in making one a follower of Jesus. Many cecessionists are brothers in Christ. Whether I believe in speaking in tongues or any other of the nine gifts does not determine whether I am saved or not.
From what I have read about pope Francis is that he is different that other popes. He seems to a very humble, caring man. He has belief in the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit. Those are all very good things, good qualities and beliefs to have. I could show you many kind acts and inspiring words of Mathama Ghandi. But I could never have brotherhood in Christ with him, when he rejects the Christ of the scriptures.
I cannot have fellowship with and endorse pope Francis as he holds to Roman Catholic doctrine. Roman Catholic beliefs reject the ESSENTIALS of what it means to be a Christian altogether! Have we forgotten the door of Wittenberg and what that stood for? Have we forgotten the protestant reformation and wonderful ministry of Martin Luther? They were called protestants because they vehemently protested the lies of a false man-made religion! The religion that damns all who follow is alive and well today and it’s leader is pope Francis. Or do we want to forget all of those things because he seems like a humble guy who believes in the gifts of the spirit?
Do you think I am being harsh or to aggressive against a works based religion? Well look at the very serious words of the apostle Paul.
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9
Right after Paul was done openly rebuking Peter for being a hypocrite and not eating with the gentiles (see Galatians 2), he says this. “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” Galatians 2:21
Paul says those who are trying to be made right by the works of the law are cursed and also bewitched! Those are very harsh, powerful words here. “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse” Galatians 3:1,10
I have had many discussions and thought much about Roman Catholics being saved. If you were to ask me, can a Roman Catholic be really saved, what would I say? I am not the judge of all the earth and cannot make that decision for individuals, but I can make judgments based on what God has already said in the scriptures. The short answer is no, a Roman Catholic cannot be saved, for if they would be saved, they would no longer be a real Roman Catholic who holds to Roman Catholic doctrine. Let me further explain.
Does God save people who currently are practicing catholics? Yes! In fact most of my ministry has taken place in a country that is 90% catholic and God is miraculously saving them all the time! But God saves and brings them out of their false works based religion. God will only save a man based on grace. He will save when we put our faith solely in the work of Jesus Christ. For a person to believe in a gospel without works is to deny Roman Catholic sotierology. So when God saves Catholics, the moment a catholic takes hold of Christ by grace alone through faith alone they no longer are a Roman Catholic but a new creature in Christ Jesus. Sure there may and overlap of some time that a new creature in Christ would say in the Roman Catholic church, but as they grow and mature they will eventually be led away so they can have fellowship with true believers in Christ.
Does Soteriology Really Matter?
Why does what pope Francis believes on these things that really matter? Since I have dedicated my life to the ministry of seeing people born again, soteriology is a very important subject to me and should be to all Christians.
The reformers were famous for holding to these five tenets:
- Soli Deo Gloria – To God alone be glory
- Sola Scriptura – Scripture alone
- Sola Gratia – Grace alone
- Sola Fide – Faith alone
- Sola Christo- Christ alone
These were all in response to the evils of Roman Catholicism. As far as I know their doctrine remains the same on the essentials of Christianity and there is still a divide as wide as can be. Though I would love to embrace the pope and think he is going to do good and save souls in the Earth, I cannot when he continues to point people toward a works plus Jesus based salvation. It would do us well to once again read Luther’s address in court to accusations of being a heretic.
His final statement was this: “I can not submit my faith either to the pope or to the council, because it is as clear as noonday that they have fallen into error and even into glaring inconsistency with themselves. If, then, I am not convinced by proof from Holy Scriptures, or by cogent reasons, if I am not satisfied by the very text I have cited, and if my judgment is not in this way brought into subjection to God’s word, I neither can nor will retract anything; for it can not be right for a Christian to speak against his country. I stand here and can say no more. God help me. Amen.”
What is the big deal if Copeland is promoting the pope and having him say a few words during his conference?
- It causes other believers to be caught up in the idolatry of the office of the pope. You see catholics flocking to him, go crazy over him because of his man given title of pope. When I see other believers getting all happy about a short video address, it only adds fuel to the fire.
- It causes believers to lose zeal to reach catholics with the gospel. The thinking can go, well if the pope is ok and is saved, he will reach his followers. I believe it also, in some ways causes people to think there might be a way that God saves people, even if they believe in a works plus Jesus religion.
- It attempts to bring unity with light and darkness.
- It exaggerates the importance that the pope believes in charismatic gifts and also diminishes and forgets about the glaring false teaching of Roman Catholic doctrine.
What Does Roman Catholic Doctrine Really State?
We cannot ignore what the Roman Catholic church and pope believes and teaches in the name of a false love and a false unity.
Paul spent a great deal of his ministry combatting the idea that a person had to do certain things, such as be circumcised, in order to be saved. Works + Jesus = eternal damnation.
We must see that the pope, those who hold to a works plus Jesus theology are lost and in desperate need to see the gospel of grace!
Do they really believe that though? Maybe you have many Catholic friends you know who say they are saved by faith in Jesus. Maybe you say I hear pope Francis talk about the importance of faith in Jesus all the time. That may be true, but it is not only faith, but faith plus keeping the law plus obeying the rules of the catholic church. Take a look yourself at the official doctrines of their church:
CCC 2036, “The specific precepts of the natural law, because their observance, demanded by the creator, is necessary for salvation.”
CCC 2068, “so that all men may attain salvation through faith, baptism and the observance of the commandments.”
Here are what the holy scriptures say:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9 NKJV)
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7 NKJV)
knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (Galatians 2:16 NKJV)
But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith. (Galatians 3:11 NKJV)
Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. (Galatians 5:2-6 NKJV)
1. I wrote this with the hopeful outcome that we would not be led astray a false unity that will only lead to destruction. What should we do light of the things I mentioned? We should pray for our catholic friends and family. We should love them and share Christ with them and continue to be a light to them.
2. We should continue to study the scriptures, to study what other religions really teach and believe, so we are not led astray. If the pope was some jerk of a guy it would be easy to take a stand against false unity. It would be very hard to deceive if that were so.
3. We must love those who are trapped in a works based religion and draw the line in the sand in the hopes they will take the step across abandoning all hope in their own works and fully cling to Christ and Him alone for their salvation. We can only be a light that shines in the dark when we shine upon darkness and expose it. We cannot be a light while pretending that the dark is really not that dark after all.
4. We must not fight division! Division is not an evil word. To be holy in fact is to be divided. To be holy is to be divided against evil and sin. In love for those that are lost, let us not affirm their destruction by false unity.
I will end with another quote by Martin Luther as he stood strong in the face of adversity to the truth of salvation by grace through faith in Christ and of the truth of the scriptures.
“What I have just said I think will clearly show that I have well considered and weighed the dangers to which I am exposing myself; but far from being dismayed by them, I rejoice exceedingly to see the Gospel this day, as of old, a cause of disturbance and disagreement. It is the character and destiny of God’s word. “I came not to send peace unto the earth, but a sword,” said Jesus Christ. God is wonderful and awful in His counsels. Let us have a care, lest in our endeavors to arrest discords, we be bound to fight against the holy word of God and bring down upon our heads a frightful deluge of inextricable dangers, present disaster, and everlasting desolations.”by