Tuesday, September 24, 2013

As For Me and My House....

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.”


  1. Pope Francis is not saying anything different from what the Catholic Church has always taught. Christ redeemed the world but who can judge who is saved and who is not? What about people who have never heard the Gospel or who have heard it in such a distorted way that they cannot believe it? Jesus says that the servant who did not know his master's wishes will receive a lighter beating (Luke 12: 47,48).

    The Catholic Church teaches that we can know the Truth through the preaching of the Gospel, but then each person has the obligation to form his own conscience according to the Truth.

    The ELCA is correct in being warm and loving and welcoming to people. This is the way Jesus is, and the way Pope Francis is. The ELCA is wrong to change Doctrine based on Scripture and Tradition. Pope Francis has not changed Church Doctrine.

  2. It sometimes is a fine line when we choose to tread lightly on the sinner while trampling on God's will. While we have a long way to go to be as welcoming and loving as our Lord and Savior would have us, we do need to proclaim the Truth. Too often, when we try to parse the Gospel to placate the world, we muddy the waters. I can't say what was in Pope Francis' heart, but proclaiming the saving grace of the cross and using it to fill that emptiness within, not only unbelievers, but those who do not truly understand what Jesus has done for all of us, would do much more than falling into the trap of the world.

    We can be warm and loving and welcoming to all people regardless of whatever sinful behavior we ALL fall prey to. Don't muddy the waters. The primary thing is the primary thing. Reach the lost with the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Show everyone the overwhelming love that Christ has given all of us and how it has filled your heart. Everyone is welcome. Everyone is loved. Everyone is accepted. The Truth must be proclaimed until all are saved. We just need to stay on task, not emphasize overreliance upon our consciences that can, all too often, lead us astray.

  3. At World Youth Day, Pope Francis challenged young people to "Make a mess!" -- the way Jesus made a mess. Francis is not trying to "muddy the waters" -- he can't. The Catholic Church has the Catechism. The Pope cannot change Doctrine. There is no possibility for confusion, thanks in large part to the Catechism that was published during the papacy of John Paul II. Anyone can read the Catechism and understand Catholic Doctrine completely. This gives the Pope a certain freedom of expression.

    Needless to say, I am not an expert or a theologian, but I do have a copy of the Catechism on my desk so I feel confident that I can write about Catholic Doctrine accurately.

    Jesus and the woman caught in adultery is an account that explains the situation. We must be non-judgmental and loving like Jesus, but then say: "Go and sin no more." Pope Francis is speaking and acting in this way.

  4. Those that remain in the word and have the Catechism at hand are not the ones that are prone to misunderstand or be confused. Those who are weak in their faith or still searching for Him are the ones at risk to accept false or misguided teaching, or get lost in the "muddied waters". Perhaps we should listen to God's counsel to the Israelites when they were in captivity in Babylon. They should prosper in the land but hold true to the Lord. Hold true to the Gospel, first and foremost, then the rest of the pieces will fall into their proper place.

  5. Well, here is the problem: What does it mean to "hold true to the Gospel"? This has to do with interpretation. Who interprets Scripture, the Gospel, for the church? Pope Francis holds true to the Gospel: he is the leader of the Catholic Church, for heaven's sake. Francis is speaking in very simple and loving words, as Jesus did. His predecessor, Benedict, had a much more intellectual style. He was not as appealing to the "searching" and "weak" as Francis is.

    It is strange to me that Protestants make fun of Sister Mary Margaret with her ruler and call Pope Benedict "God's Rottweiler," and then when Pope Francis comes along, they say he is too soft. To me this sounds like Jesus and the Pharisees -- no matter what Jesus said, they would not accept it, because they had made up their minds.

  6. Doctrinally Lutherans differ from Catholics in that our interpretation of Scripture comes from Scripture itself, Sola Scriptura. Like Paul said many times, The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14 And without the benefit of the Holy Spirit, we cannot, of our own volition come to believe and understand. Where one's conscience is so very important for the Catholic to understand God's will, the Lutheran looks to the word and through the power of the Holy Spirit to discern God's will. The church has a primary role and that is to bring the lost to Christ. All the rest belongs to the world and becomes a distraction to the churches role in this world.

    P.S. If more attended parochial schools our society would be much improved. After all, God disciplines the one's He loves, even when He uses a nun's ruler for correction.

  7. We are back to where we started: Conscience. Your response is very good, very clear. I firmly believe that the Reformation split is a misunderstanding.

    For Catholics, conscience is NOT "so very important." Luther was right when he said: "You should not believe your conscience and your feelings more than the Word, which the Lord who receives sinners, preaches to you."

    This is also the Catholic teaching.

    According to the Catechism, Catholics rest their Faith on: 1) Scripture (yes, "Sola Scriptura") 2) Tradition -- the Magisterium and Tradition from the time of the Apostles (this is how Catholics interpret Scripture for the Church -- some entity has to interpret for the Church or there is chaos not unity, and all denominations have a way to interpret for the denomination) 3) Conscience (this is in third place).

    What is keeping us apart is the area of Tradition and the Magisterium. We must try to understand this area if there is to be Christian unity.

    Pope Francis is focusing on, as you say, the Church's primary role: bringing the lost to Christ. For this mission, it is better if the Church has unity.

  8. Well said. We are all united in Christ.

  9. I am sorry but Catholism is EXACTLY the ultimate embodiment of the spirit of rebellion against God as espoused by "Progressive Christianity". Since it rejects the authority of God's Word ALONE and substitute's the authority of fallible man in its place via the institution of the Roman church and its heirarchy. It speculates using "human reason" into doctrines that go well beyond the simple words of God to believe in Christ alone for salvation. It prompts trust in one's self NOT Christ by promoting a doctrine of earning "merit" by human self-judged "good works". Is this not EXACTLY what the ELCA is trying to promote? Their self-judged "good work" is to promote economic Marxism under the euphamism "social justice" which the Catholic Church promotes. The Catholic church enforces its errors with a rigid "my-way-or-the-highway" spritual tyranny - does this not sound similar to the dictorial top-down heirarchy approach that the ELCA leadership is now using to harrass faithful leaders and congregation who espouse biblical and Lutheran confessional faith. Just like the ELCA apostates, the Catholic leaders are willing to tolerate almost ANY man-made doctrine or self-chosen sprituralism that reinforces reliance on self-effort rather then Christ alone provided they bow down to self-proclaimed "authority" of the institutional Church and its leadership. Finally, what good is the self-proclaimed "power" of "infalliable" interpretation when, in fact, the declaration of this power is in itself a declaration of rebellion against God? One must willing choose to blindly follow dictatorial authority in spritual matters which is dangerous when that leadership is in fact as human an falliable as you yourself are! You are simply left trying as an individual to falliably interpert on your own the equally fallible interpretation of the supposedly "infalliable" church. Also, the Top-down, dictatoral approach simply magnifies the errors of the leaders into the WHOLE body of Christ as was the case prior to the reformation. I would advise the writer of the blog not to be seduced by the supposed "solutions" of Romanist spritual tyranny as it in itself is born of the same spirt of rebellion as the ELCA progressism. In fact, this is the real agenda of the "eucimenical" ELCA - reunion with Rome so that we can get on with building Utopia on earth by our own hands and "good works".

  10. Notice how "Kathy" in fact lies in her last comment. Catholics DO NOT beleive in Sola Scriptura! They think "tradition" is equal to scripture - and their tradition is largely man-made and NOT based upon scripture but rather additions infused into the Church from the 5th to the 15th century A.D. Their was NO MAGISTARIUM "from the time of the Apostles" but ONLY GOD's WORD! The Catholic Church states that the Church stands ABOVE scripture and that fallible man DECIDES what it means then DOGMATICALLY and dictatorally enforces it. Luther explicit stated in the Reformation that NO ONE MAN OR GROUP OF MEN are higher then God's Word! And what Rome has "infallably" decreed is that in order to be saved one must "cooperate" with God by producing "good works" as a requirement in and above faith in Christ alone. In other words, YOU are the primary actor in YOUR salvation NOT Christ! Christ is idle (and used more like and "idol" in the pagan sense) and simply a judge of one's actions according to the law. The Catholic idea of "grace" is something you "merit" by following the law and, above all, loyally following the organizational church's rules and agenda. Do not be fooled by Romanism - it is as lawless and misguided as anything the ELCA leadership is promoting!