By Terry James
Let me start by saying I have family and friends who are Catholics. I believe most of these I love and know well are genuine believers –that is—they Know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. But these are “in Christ” in spite of their Catholic beliefs, not because of their Catholicism.
Let me make a case for the above opening.
Pope Francis is at it again. Some months ago he declared on several occasions that there are many ways to God and Heaven. He later pronounced that there is no place called Hell and even more recently the Catholic pontiff proclaimed that even atheists will be in Heaven.
Now he is putting forth that Christ didn’t resurrect from death–at least not in the way the Bible tells us He arose.
Some of the Catholic clergy call these pontifications by this prelate heresy. Heresy, of course, is any teaching that varies from doctrinal positions to any major extent. While Catholic doctrine certainly is, in a great many cases, far from fundamental, evangelical, Protestant doctrine, we agree with those traditional Catholics that these declarations by Francis are heresy according to any fundamentalist, Christian teaching. That is, the pope’s expressed thoughts on these matters are not only unbiblical, but, I would say, they are anti-biblical.
CNS News reported the revelations made by an apparent friend of Pope Francis. Eugenio Scalfari, a left-wing atheist journalist, published the remarks in the periodical La Repubblica. Scalfari also wrote about the pope’s declarations in a new book.
Scalfari states in the November 5 edition of La Repubblica and in the introduction to his new book that Francis said: “He [Jesus] was a man until he was placed in the tomb by the women who recomposed his body. That night, in the tomb, the man [Jesus] disappeared and came forth from the grotto in the semblance of a spirit that met the women and the Apostles while still preserving the shadow of the person, and then he definitely disappeared.”
When asked about the strangeness of Francis’ variance from Catholic doctrine, the true nature of the Roman Catholic Church became overwhelmingly apparent. The Catholic Church’s PR/information establishment gave a ring-around-the-rosaries answer. The response said: “As already stated on other occasions, the words that Dr. Eugenio Scalfari attributes in quotation marks to the Holy Father during the interviews he had cannot be considered as a faithful account of what was actually said, but rather represent a personal and free interpretation of those who listened, as appears completely evident from what is written today regarding the divinity of Jesus Christ,” the Holy See statement said.
I.e., the official Vatican response was NOT a denial, rather was a confutation filled with gobbledygook that left it open to interpretation to the reader or hearer of the pope’s words.
According to CNS News, there has been “no clear denial, no demand that Scalfari correct his article or retract it, and no denial by the Pope himself.”
CNS News reported further that the Vatican’s response was similar when Scalfari reported that Francis told him in 2018 there is no Hell and, recently, when the journalist claimed the pope told him that once Jesus Christ became incarnate, He was a man, a “man of exceptional virtues,” but “not at all a God.”
Now, we are seeing some extremely combustible possibilities seeping from the once seamless confines of the Vatican walls. Most distinct among these is the question: Just how Christian is the Roman Catholic Church?
If this Vicar of Christ has an infallible side, as claimed of popes down through the history of that supposedly Christian body, where does that infallibility fit within this pontiff’s statements denying the very words of Jesus Christ?
Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the father but by me” (John 14:6).
Yet Pope Francis says there are many ways to God.
Pope Francis declares that there is no place called Hell. Despite the biblical truth that Jesus Himself talked about that infernal place even more than He talked about Heaven (Mark, chapter 9, for example).
This pope says Jesus didn’t resurrect in bodily form as Jesus claimed. Yet Jesus proved on many occasions after the resurrection that He rose from the dead bodily, not merely spiritually. Remember, for instance, His confrontation with doubting Thomas. (And, Jesus is the Word, John 1:1, so He cannot lie.)
This pope has proclaimed that even atheists will be in Heaven. By doing so, Francis nullifies the very reason Jesus came to die on the cross, be buried, and resurrect to life so that the lost who accept God’s grace offer can be redeemed.
All of that said, the Catholic Church’s conundrum, as implied in this commentary’s title, goes much deeper than the heresy of this particular pope. That religious body is faced with the truth in God’s Holy Word that is completely antithesis of what the Vatican has always proclaimed.
The conundrum could not be more starkly presented or illustrated than with the following Scripture: “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
One evangelist who came out from deep within Roman Catholicism to preach the solid Word of God on every issue affecting humanity writes the following:
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). This verse establishes the supreme authority of God’s inspired, infallible, inerrant Word, which can be used to correct and reprove the teachings of Catholic bishops and religious traditions.…
Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He (Jesus), “having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:11-12). When the Lord Jesus finished His perfect, all-sufficient work of redemption, He cried out in victory, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Catholic priests, who continue on altars what Jesus finished on the cross, are leading their congregations in the idolatrous worship of the Eucharist. (Mike Gendron, “God’s Word Continues to Set Catholics Free,” November 2019)
Neither the lost nor the saved need go to a priest, who then goes to Mary, and then who goes to Jesus, who then goes to the Heavenly Father. When the Temple veil rent from top to bottom at the very moment Christ gave up His life to death, Heaven’s throne room–following Christ’s resurrection on the third day–was open to all who repent, who seek reconciliation through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Mike Gendron writes further: “Not only is Mary not a mediator, she was also a sinner who needed a Savior (Rom. 3:23). She said, ‘My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior’ (Luke 1:46-47).”
A growing number of Catholic theologians are beginning to question whether Pope Francis might be the second beast of Revelation chapter 13. I, personally, don’t think he is. The apostate pronouncements he consistently makes, though, are certainly in alignment with those things that one called the false prophet will espouse.
Catholicism’s real conundrum, however, isn’t having to deal with a rogue pope. Its most pressing conundrum is having to strive to confute the very Word of God.