In an article printed in the Guardian on September 11th titled, “Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own consciences” the head of the Roman Catholic Church was quoted, "Given – and this is the fundamental thing – that God's mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart," the pope wrote, "the question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience. There is sin, also for those who have no faith, in going against one's conscience. Listening to it and abiding by it means making up one's mind about what is good and evil." It would appear that the dialogue that the ELCA has been having with the Roman Catholic Church has been making quite an impression. The inference that somehow, one’s conscience can trump faith is charting a course down the slippery slope of apostasy. When leaders of God’s church chart a new course, seemingly apart from God’s will, how many will nod their heads in agreement? Of course, a spokesperson for the Pope backpedaled and tried to spin Pope Francis’ comments as no change from the long standing Roman Catholic doctrine. “The pope had had "no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation", it said, adding: "They cannot be saved who, knowing the church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her." Looks like this guy can jump right in and replace President Obama’s creative spokesperson, Jay Carney, without missing a heartbeat.
Pope Francis’ other statements regarding homosexuality and abortion were largely misinterpreted by the media. His emphasis, albeit stated somewhat disjointedly, was that we, as Christians, should refrain from judging others outside of the community of believers. And even those within the church should not be judged by fellow sinners, even if they have fallen prey to homosexual desires or had undergone an abortion procedure. While his message was unclear and apparently widely misunderstood, we Christians do have a habit of falling back into overemphasizing the law while minimizing the redeeming forgiveness of the Gospel. Perhaps, it would be more beneficial for our church leaders to refrain from comments that muddy the waters of the redeeming grace of the cross. That Jesus came to save all sinners and to open a door to salvation to all who simply believe that He died for each one of them should be the persistent message from the church. Leave the social justice agenda for those in politics. Save the lost and bring them to Christ and discover just how much better this world becomes.
Mainline Christian churches are hemorrhaging members at an unprecedented level. There is a clear reason why. Contradictory doctrine that minimizes our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ’s role in salvation leaves those searching for the Truth confused, wondering how they could possibly find answers at those institutions. Many believers become disillusioned when their church leaders question long standing doctrine and are forced to look for a new church, one that preaches the pure Gospel. It is clear that these misguided leaders of God’s church are dividing the faithful, forcing them to choose between their friends and familiar surroundings or remaining faithful to the Lord. Why is it so difficult for those who have allegedly dedicated their lives to serving the Lord, to preach the Truth? Why is it so easy for them to fall in love with the world? When the leaders of the ELCA promote their tolerance and welcoming to the world, who are they looking to please, the world or God? Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Certainly, proclaiming these errant doctrines do not please the Lord. Certainly, they do nothing to save the lost. And most certainly they fail to give all the glory to the Lord our God. No, these elites long to accept accolades from the world when they demonstrate how modern and enlightened their new religion has become.
Progressives argue that organized religion, in particular Christianity, is dying in part due to the perceived exclusivity. After all, not all will be welcome in heaven and far too many Christians remain trapped within the Law calling out sinners as rule breakers. But, God is very much alive and believers are growing in numbers, just not in the traditional mainline churches, so only part of their conclusion is legitimate. The Gospel saves, the law condemns. We are forgiven, even of our gravest sins because our Savior redeemed us with His precious blood. Why do we find it so hard to forgive as we are forgiven? Jesus called us to love our neighbor. Helping a brother or sister come to Him is the greatest gift that we can offer to our Lord. If we continue to remain trapped in the law, we do nothing but become an impediment to those searching for Him. When one truly accepts Christ, the law that is written upon their hearts is obeyed joyfully in order to properly please Him.
So, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord by loving Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength and with all our mind. And we will show our love to our neighbor by sharing the joy that having one’s heart filled with the love of Christ brings. If this means stepping on the toes of those in positions of authority in God’s church when they stray from sound doctrine and fall in love with the world, it will be shouted from the mountaintops. Isaiah 40:8-9, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever. You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid.”