May 27, 2013

Is the Pope Christian?

by Clint Archer

Last week Pope Francis ventured above his pay grade with a fallible gaff of historic proportions. In his Wednesday public homily, which usually includes unscripted comments, the Pope announced for the first time in Catholic history, that even atheists can go to heaven by doing good works.

Pope gives thumbs upAdmittedly, this pontification wasn’t pronounced ex cathedra, meaning he wasn’t sitting in his “I’m infallible, so this is God’s truth even if it contradicts the Bible” seat, but still, one would expect the leader of a religion to preach a message congruent with the most elementary tenets of his own faith.

I understand that in Catholic doctrine the Pope holds the keys to the kingdom and that whatever he binds on earth is bound in heaven. But contemplate the implications for a moment. On Wednesday (May 22, 2013), heaven suddenly got bound into admitting entry to atheists. Historically, not even Baptists got into heaven, but apparently now God is obligated to let any do-gooder in, even those who don’t acknowledge Jesus at all. How ironic that he declared this on the Feast of St Rita (the patron saint of impossible things).

Here’s a quote from his sermon…


The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can… “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”.. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”


It seems that on Wednesday Rome became way more catholic and way less Catholic. But what about Christian?

Biblically, the term “Christian” refers to disciples of Christ (Acts 11:26; 1 Pet 4:16), but it has been semantically annexed by the secular world in an effort to lump together all who claim salvation through Jesus Christ. We all know that Evangelicals routinely question any Pope’s salvation, but only since Wednesday could Evangelicals, Catholics, and even atheists ask in unison, Can this papal opinion be considered even remotely Christian, by any definition of the word?

On Thursday, the Vatican issued an “explanatory note” (read: back-pedaling) on what Francis meant. A Vatican spokesman (spin reverend), Thomas Rosica, clarified that those who know about the Catholic church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her.” Phew, for a second there I thought all of Rome had forgotten Catholicism 101; luckily it’s just the Pope.

papal key emblemThe belief that a person’s good works earns them salvation, is of course, a hallmark doctrine of the Catholic church. Works-based salvation is the particular detail that caused the most irreconcilable schism in history—the Reformation. When Martin Luther purported that Scripture teaches salvation comes by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, the Catholics took umbrage with the insistence on using the word “alone” (sola).

Rome then declared anyone who teaches grace by faith alone to be anathema, i.e. condemned to hell. And Protestants requited by holding that anyone who believes that their works are needed to be saved are equally condemned to hell. (The stakes are unavoidably extreme when you discuss salvation.)

I provided quotes from Vatican II, the officially Catholic teaching here.

And ever since then well-meaning peacemakers on both sides of the great divide—a la Evangelicals and Catholics Together—have been suggesting tweaking the language to be more conciliatory and less inflammatory. It’s the Rodney King approach of can’t we all just get along?

But never, in the history of even the most bend-over-backwards ecumenism has the Pope declared openly the exact opposite of what his camp believes.

Good Enough

Incidentally, the Bible teaches quite categorically that no one does good, not even one (Luke 18:19; Rom 3:10-12). No Evangelical, no Catholic, no atheist. Not even one.

Heaven’s Payment Plan

Also, Paul said the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), but the Pope has inaugurated a salvific payment plan for which anyone qualifies. The requisite price of admission is unspecified “good works.” The lack of specificity should be unnerving. Now that faith in Jesus and Catholic sacraments have been deemed optional extras, who decides which words are good works? Is it good to make a trip to Mecca, is it good to vote Republican, is it good to help finance an atheist advertisement on London buses. How much good is enough good? The whole fiasco is absurd.

In the Catholic system, a person’s good work has the always been the ticket to heaven. But there was a mandatory minimum. The requirements for eternal life used to include the need to a) to be Christened into the Catholic church, b) observe regular confession, c) receive the Eucharist,  d) an assortment of other sacraments I.e. being a good Catholic. Depending on your parish various abstemious rituals made it on or off the menu (fish in Friday’s, giving up chocolate for Lent, etc.)

In Catholicism, the selection of assorted works that are required to be saved has always been a bit of an à la carte experience. But a staple requirement has always included being Catholic, or at the very, very least Christian.

Are There Really Atheists in Heaven?

If Pope Francis is correct, then not only are the Catholic requirements no longer requirements, but the universal Christian belief in Jesus as Lord, as Savior, or even as an historical figure, is also optional. (Ellen Johnson, former President of American Atheists, declared on Larry King Live that she didn’t believe there was a “single shred of secular evidence that Jesus Christ ever existed.”)

atheist kidRom 4:5  And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,

Eph 2:8  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

What Every Plow Boy Knows

Sixteenth Century Bible translator, William Tyndale had a vision that with the Bible readily accessible in the common tongue, anyone and everyone could know the Bible better than the Pope himself.

I defie the Pope and all his lawes. If God spare my life, ere many yeares I wyl cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture, than he doust.” (William Tyndale, c. 1531)


The Pope’s sermon on Wednesday proves that day has come. Anyone with a Bible knows that:

John 14:6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Acts 4:12  And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  13  Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

I once asked the cheeky question: Is the Pope Catholic? But I since Wednesday I think there are Evangelicals, Catholics, and atheists who would ask with all sincerity, considering the evidence, Is the Pope Christian?


Clint Archer

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Clint has been the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church since 2005. He lives in Durban, South Africa with his wife and four kids.
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  • What’s striking is that this isn’t even salvation by faith-plus-works, a damning perversion with which Christians have long charged Romanism, and which its apologists have tried to squirm around. This isn’t even that.

    It’s salvation by works, period. Not even the most minimal, rudimentary, generic theistic faith required. Sheer works.

    Even Pelagius would say “Whoa.”

    • I know. “Grace sans faith through works alone.” Zero Fide.

      • Matt Rollings

        Nothing new under the Catholic sun. Infused righteousness at its best!

      • gerald

        This is a misrepresentation of the Pope’s words.

        • Well, if the Pope’s words were misrepresented by the major media outlets, as well as those who heard, and as well by the Vatican spokesman, it is hard to blame Clint. Especially since the Vatican has not released a transcript–but why would they? What was noteworthy about what he said?

  • Ron

    It’s nice of the Pope to expose just how ridiculous his thinking is. Hopefully such comments will cause some “professing evangelicals” to think a little deeper about the reality of things like, “Catholics and Evangelicals together” and “The Manhattan Declaration”.

    The quote by Tyndale put a lump in my throat and the “Feast of St Rita (the patron saint of impossible things” caused me to laugh out loud.

    Thanks Clint

    • Evangelicals and Catholics can agree that view the Pope articulated was neither Evangelical, nor Catholic.

      • gerald

        So Christ did not redeem everyone? Meaning his sacrifice was insufficient to redeem everyone on earth if they accepted his redemption? Hmmmmm…. Sounds like Calvanism and limited atonement.

        • Well, no one is accusing the Pope of being a closet Calvinist. And without tripping over the L in TULIP, it’s safe to say that no Christians believe that atheists are redeemed. (Of course, anyone can be redeemed at any point at which they place their trust in Christ, but at that point the person is no longer an atheist).

          • gerald

            I am a Christian and I say that Christ redeemed EVERYONE. That does not mean they are going to heaven. I do not believe that.

            You forget to engage your intellectual faculties enough to get the point. The Pope did not say they redeemed themselves. Did Christ pay the price for them or not? Whether they choose their get out of jail free card or not is a different matter. Was the price HE paid sufficient to get every man, woman and child on the planet in to heaven? He is infinite God and his sacrifice was of infinite value. He desires that all men are saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Which of course brings us to the problem of the I.

          • Dreslin77

            You might want to read John 17 a little more closely, note where Jesus says He is not praying for the whole world, but only those whom He has been given.

          • gerald

            If you read his prayer it is clear why. He is basically praying for their protection because they are in grace. That does not mean that only they get grace. Those outside of those he is given are not in grace and under his protection but God still calls to them He still knocks but they do not open. Grace is not irresistable. I stand by what I said.

  • Karl Heitman

    Is it good to vote Republican? Of course it is, Clint! 😉

  • Just trying to parse through this – is he talking about salvation, or is he talking about just doing good. I understand the theological implications that no one does good, but in the sense of “helping gramma across the street” – we can do that. Of course, it’s because of common grace that atheists can be moral. Is it possible he’s talking about that? Any help parsing this would be appreciated.

    • Your guess is as good as mine. He does use the word “redeemed” a lot. And the fact that the Vatican felt like they needed to issue a clarifying statement the next day makes me lean toward that he was talking about salvation.

      • Ah, that’s true. Since he wasn’t clear we can fill in the blanks with whatever we want. Hence the need for all ministers of the Gospel to be clear. Thanks for the digital slap. I needed that! 🙂

      • gerald

        No the clarifying statement was not to correct a decrepit old man who made a misstatement. The clarification was made because non-catholics and even many Catholics ran amok. Did Christ pay the price FOR EVERYONE? Or was an infinite God short on change and only paid for some, though he desired that everyone be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. He just couldn’t afford them all.

  • Jason

    Thanks for the article! I’ve been looking for a full transcript of the Pope’s speech online and unable to find one. Do you happen to have a link or copy of it available?

    • The transcript is a carefully guarded artifact at this point. The homily is available in fragments through the many news stories that quote it. I don’t think the Vatican will put it on an official site, but it may end up on a wiki-leak somewhere.

  • Arlen

    I guess it’s too bad that you were not chosen to be the pope, since you apparently know the Catholic faith better than the bishop of Rome himself. Perhaps you are just another protester who is desperately looking for every excuse to never be reconciled with the church you left. God have mercy on you for the calumny and slander you hurl at the bride for whom Jesus spilled his blood. Unless you repent, you will be removed from the wedding feast in shame on that day.

    • Now there’s the Catholic doctrine we all know and love (albeit somewhat different from what the Pope said). Thanks for your sincerity, Arien.

      • Alice Ryan

        Thanks, Clint, for posting the article. I haven’t heard about it from any other source.

      • pewterrock

        Although presented differently, it does not conflict with Church doctrine.

    • Alice Ryan

      Arlen, isn’t it clear that the “bishop of Rome himself” has become ignorant to the basic tenants of the Catholic faith? Do you actually agree with what he said? Thank you for caring enough to pray for God’s mercy, and I see that you understand the reverence we should have for the blood of Christ. I respect that about you, but you’re off target in your zeal. The one to be revered is Christ, not His church.

      Regarding us “protestors,” we are not called to be reconciled to the Church. We are called to be reconciled to GOD and faithful to HIS WORD, even over His Church which is composed ONLY of forgiven sinners. I hope you and the Pope are included in that number. However, when false doctrine is taught, we are called to proclaim the truth that refutes it, and Martin Luther was faithful to that call, as was the man who wrote this article.

      • Arlen

        No, that is not clear. I agree with what the Pope has said in the context of his other statements and in the greater context of Catholic tradition. I do not understand him to be preaching Rob-Bell-esque universalism.

        And if I am guilty of having misdirected zeal, then our Lord Jesus Christ is likewise guilty of your charge when He claims that the Church is His very mystical Body (Acts 9:1-5) as well as St. Paul when he declares the same mystery (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).

        Catholics do not think in strict “either this–or that” categories. Jesus cannot be separated from His Church anymore than His Soul can be separated from His Body. He is risen from the dead–never to die again; and death is the separation of soul from body.

        And your claim that we are not called to be reconciled to the Church of Jesus Christ is grotesquely unbiblical. To be in communion with the Church IS to be in communion with Christ. Jesus has a one-flesh-union with His bride–the reality of which our own lesser marriages are a mere passing shadow.

        And to quote your own Luther “No man can call God his Father who does not call the Church his Mother.”

        And if the Church at her own most essential and fundamental element (via the Papacy) has taught error and false doctrine, then you blaspheme Jesus with the charge that He has failed to keep the promise He made to St. Peter when He vowed:

        “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, ***and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.***”
        -Matthew 16:18 ESV

        St. Paul teaches that the Church of the living God is “the pillar and ground of the truth” in 1 Timothy 3:15 (NKJV)

        If the Church can teach heresy and utterly go astray into the abyss of Apostasy–then so can Christ. But Catholics deny the possibility of both. Glory to God!

        Please consider this quote from St. Francis de Sales, an evangelist of the Catholic Counter-Reformation:

        “If then the Church can err, O Calvin, O Luther, to whom shall I have recourse in my difficulties? To the Scripture, say they. But what shall I, poor man, do, for it is precisely about the Scripture that my difficulty lies. I am not in doubt whether I must believe the Scripture or not, for who knows not that it is the Word of Truth? What keeps me in anxiety is the understanding of this Scripture, is the conclusions to be drawn from it, which are innumerable and diverse and opposite on the same subject, and everybody takes his view, one this, another that, though out of all there is but one which is sound. Ah, who will give me to know the good among so many bad? Who will tell me the real verity through so many specious and masked vanities? Everybody would embark on the ship of the Holy Spirit; there is but one, and only that one shall reach the port, all the rest are on their way to shipwreck. Ah, Ah, what danger am I in of erring! All shout out their claims with equal assurance and thus deceive the greater part, for all boasts that theirs is the ship. Whoever says that our Master has not left us guides in so dangerous and difficult a way, says that he wishes us to perish. Whoever says that he has put us aboard at the mercy of wind and tide, without giving us a skillful pilot able to use properly his compass and chart, says that the Savior is wanting in foresight. Whoever says that this good father has sent us into this school of the Church, knowing that error was taught there, says that he intended to foster our vice and our ignorance. Who has ever heard of an academy in which everybody taught and nobody was a scholar? Such would be the Christian commonwealth if the Church can err. For if the Church herself err, who shall not err? And if each one in iterr, or can err, to whom shall I betake myself for instruction? To Calvin? But why to him rather than to Luther, or Brentius, or Pacimontanus?”
        -From his book, The Catholic Controversy

        And regarding the way in which Catholics understand the comments of Pope Francis’ homily, please visit these two links:

        • gerald

          Excellent post Arlen.

        • Um thanks. It’s not often that the counter-Reformation gets airtime at theCripplegate! BTW, “our Luther” started off as “your Luther”! Thanks for your comments.

  • Drew Trammell

    It seems to me that the foundation of this article is the premise that the pope actually said that atheists would go to heaven. His statement was confusing and ill worded, but he did not say that. The statement that God has redeemed all by the blood of Christ is confusing to us, but it could well mean that in some sense all the good that anyone does (whether Christian or not) flows from the work of Christ.

    Rome has it’s myriad of problems, but I do not believe that the Pope was preaching universalism. Here’s what seems to me a more sound critique of what the Pope was saying:

    • Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out. It is worth noting from the reaction of the news channels, that the wording he used was taken universally by the secular press who heard it to be Universalism. No other Pope has left people thinking you don’t need to become Catholic to be redeemed, which is exactly what he said. If he redefines redeemed to mean something other than what it means in the rest of Catholic dogma, that may explain the confusion, but it doesn’t justify it.

      • gerald

        He did not redefine redeemed. Protestantism did 500 years ago. Redeemed and justified are two different things in Catholicism.Why don’t you try and study what the term redeemed means to a Catholic before you post the same igornance the press does? No offense but I see a lot of it on this blog. I am ignorant about many things as well. Christ did redeem us all.

        • Good point Gerald. Thanks.

      • GinaRD

        And we’re taking the secular press’s word for it? With their track record on religious matters?

        • Boy, I’m glad the secular press doesn’t listen to the stuff I say when I deviate from my notes. Sometimes I confuse even myself.

    • gerald

      Good post.
      It is only confusing because you look at it through the theology of Protestantism. No offense but we have a different set of terms and definitions after being divided for 500 years and the Popes words have to be understood in the Catholic context.
      I agree with your conclusion that the Pope was speaking of Christ’s redeeming work of all mankind and appreciate your desire to be fair to a Catholic Pope rather than just go off half cocked and write an article based on what the secular press and those who have a bent against Catholicism and Romanists would have you think. God bless.

      • Good (same) point. Again.

  • thedirtyRword

    hey mate, nice blog. have u got a link to a full sermon transcript that you quoted the pope from…? sounds pretty nasty. cheers. Josh –

  • Ben Weatherhead

    On one hand I’d say that it is not for us to judge whether or not someone is a Christian. That is up to God alone. However, given that the Pope is in such a position of church leadership, he should be held accountable if he teaches something contrary to the Gospel – certainly something as obviously heretical as this.

  • gerald

    Redeemed/Justified/Saved know the difference.

    I suggest you read this article to get it straight what the Pope said.

    • Gerald…he said we’d see them on the other side. That’s sort of a tough one to parse away.

      • gerald

        No he didn’t and I am glad you didn’t put that in quotes. Here is what he really said.

        “I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if
        we do good to others, if we MEET THERE, DOING GOOD, and we go slowly, gently,
        little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much.
        We must MEET ONE ANOTHER DOING GOOD. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an
        atheist!’ But do good: WE WILL MEET ONE ANOTHER THERE.””
        THERE is not heaven. There is doing good. Thus he is saying we will meet eachother at the food shelf, the hospital, the school, wherever we do good together. No parsing, that is what he said. He did not say “other side” quoting you.

  • gerald

    This article and this thread is like people who aren’t even in the math class telling the professor who has a PHD that he is wrong. You people, especially the protestants, who have been separated for 500 years from the Catholic Church, and who have developed a different set of definitions for terms such as redeemed, saved, justified, sanctified, etc.. need to do an honest study of what Catholicism teaches and how it defines it’s terms before you go off half cocked writing articles that are incorrect. See the link I posted above.

    The Pope knows quite well what he was saying and he was not saying that Atheists are saved. Redeemed and saved are to different things in Catholic theology. Christ redeemed ALL. But not all are justified because that requires us saying yes to his redemption.

    • First, Clint has his doctrate in theology, so at some point your analogy breaks down.

      But secondly, I think you, Clint, and I would all agree that the Pope’s use of “redeemed” does not fit with a protestant’s understanding of that word. We are all saying the same thing there. Clint’s post is targeted at a specific group of people: evangelicals that think that the RCC and protestants actually teach the same thing. Perhaps his humor was a bit subtle, but the point he was going for was wound up in the capitalization of “C” in both Catholic and Christian i know the effect is lost if you have to explain it, but I think you were taking unnessecary offence.
      The point here is that there are christians who think that the RCC and evangelicals teach the same thing about salvation. Gerald: you, me, and Clint all agree that those people are confused. This post was pointing that out.
      A Catholic gets the concept of purgatory as a safety net, and the importance of good works as a “meeting place” (to use the pope’s words). I read this post as saying: “given the evangelical concept of ‘redepmtion’ clearly the Pope is off the reservation. You are right to point out that word redemption is not being used in the same way be evangelicals and Catholics. You are not right to think that is because Clint is sloppy and “half-cocked.”

      • gerald

        He does not have a doctorate in Catholic theology and his distortion of the popes statements proves it so my point stands. Why don’t you try read my reply just above this one that I just posted. I am not wrong. Clint is misrepresenting the Pope saying that Atheists are going to heaven. The meeting place the Pope spoke of is not heaven. Read my post just above where I fully quote the Pope’s words about that meeting place. Clint simply takes the presses word for it, though he can’t really do much else. By the way I am far to used to these types of distortion to be offended. The Pope only says that Christ redeemed all men. I guess you believe in limited atonement/redemption. That an infinite God did not pay the price for everyone! God desires that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. But I guess he lacked the “cash” for some. Christ paid the price for ALL. That is ALL the Pope said.

      • Gerald: I deleted your comment because it was essentially what you have made in a few other places on this thread.

  • METOWNSEND Townsend

    In answer to your question – NO.!!!

    • I envy your ability to be concise.

  • Will

    Clint, rather than expose a faulty theology of the Pope’s, has exposed his own poor reading skills and ignorance on the Catholic faith. The “there” in which the Pope is referring to is not heaven, it is a place of compassion and kindness. By doing good unto others the Pope suggests that this is a place, a starting point, for a dialogue and relationship to begin with all people. Secondly, the Church does not say we can “earn” our way to heaven by good works. Good works are the fruits, or evidence, that we are of the faith, not just in speech (or print), but in deed. What good works have you all done today? I don’t believe a divisive & naive critique of other people’s faith fits into that category.

    • Will, I think you are seriously mistaken in your understanding of the Catholic idea of works as a fruit. Here is canon 24 from the council of trent: “If anyone says that the justice (righteousness) received is not preserved and also not increased before God through good works but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of the increase, let him be anathema.”

      So, it looks like if you mean what you wrote in your comment, there is more hope for a do-gooding atheist than for you! Which is sort of ironic, but alas.

  • pewterrock

    First, that Christ died to redeem the whole world. We can distinguish his redemptive work from the acceptance of salvation. He redeemed the whole world. However, many will reject that saving work. In affirming the universality of Christ’s redemptive work we are not universalists. To say that he redeemed the whole world is not to conclude that all will be saved.
    Secondly, the Pope is also affirming that all humans are created in God’s image and are therefore created good. Yes, created good, but that goodness is wounded by original sin.
    Thirdly, he is affirming that all men and women are obliged to pursue what is beautiful, good and true. Natural virtue is possible–even obligatory, but natural virtue on its own is not sufficient for salvation. Grace is necessary to advance beyond natural virtue to bring the soul to salvation. The Pope does not say atheists being good on their own will be saved. He says they, like all men, are redeemed by Christ’s death and their good works are the starting place where we can meet with them–the implication being “meet with them in an encounter that leads eventually to faith in Christ.”

    • Thanks for helping explain what he meant. The Vatican spokesman did that for him too. Poor man, I’d hate to have “infallible” on my business card too.

      • gerald

        Your sarcasm is in poor taste. I could say things to you like gee clint, since you don’t have to do good works I guess you are just sitting around today writing articles ridiculing the beliefs of others, waiting for your salvation. That would hardly be fruitful would it. Since if I were honest (and I am) I know you do more than that. You are not being honest about the Popes words and using your ridicule to cover it up.

  • Nordic Princess

    Clint, you are right on. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Atheists who can go to Heaven would no longer be atheists since they would be washed by the blood of Jesus Christ. Come quickly Lord Jesus.

  • gerald

    Seems you all have this mental block that redeemed = saved. That Christ only paid the price for some. That he is infinite God and “desires that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” but only gave the sherrif enough cash to get some of us out. Evidently an infinite God could not pay the full price for everyone. Whether or not some accept the payment for themselves or not is a different matter.
    And the Pope DID NOT say we meet on the “other side” as some claim.

    • The Scripture defines “redemption” as “the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:14; cf. Eph 1:7). This is not merely the notion that Christ died in some ineffective way for all men to make them merely saveable if they do something to add to the cross’s power.

      No, those who have been redeemed have “the forgiveness of sins.” By virtue of redemption, sins are forgiven. Thus, if Christ “redeemed” every individual who ever lived, according to the biblical definition of redemption, every individual who ever lived is already forgiven. Of course, this is not the case. Only those who are justified by grace through faith in Christ alone are forgiven of their sins.

  • gerald

    Seems there is a lot of manipulation and deleting of posts here. Why is that? To make the article look better than it is? I wonder if Clint could ever have the humility to admit that there are some errors in his representation of what the Pope said. I will give him the out of blaming it on the secular media or even of blaming it on the Vatican for not personally emailing him the full text of the Pope’s homily.

    • Gerald,

      For the reecord, I (not Clint) have deleted many of your comments, which, as it happens, still only amounts to a fraction of your total comments. To answer your question, “Why is that?,” it is because many of your comments have amounted to nothing more than repetitious, petulant nastiness and sarcasm that add nothing of substance to the conversation.

      The Cripplegate comment thread isn’t a place to come and just vent and rant about every misgiving you have about Protestantism. You can do that on your blog. Neither is it a place to defend every aspect of Catholic theology every time one aspect is critiqued. For every comment someone has made to you, you’ve made (on average) three to them. Perhaps you think that multiplying quantity makes up for the lack of quality. It doesn’t. And it comes off as nothing more than yelling louder and louder when one recognizes his argument is weaker and weaker. And it surely isn’t becoming of one who would claim to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

      So, since you brought it up, here’s your opportunity to make positive contributions going forward at The Cripplegate. Read posts addressed to you, count to ten, formulate a concise response that deals with the content of the actual posts, skip the red herrings and the straw men, ask questions when you’re uncertain of another’s position rather than telling them (erroneously) what their position is, do your best to assume somewhat of a teachable spirit, make your point once, and move on.

      Don’t do that, and I’ll delete every last one of your future comments, as that will be ample demonstration that you don’t mean to interact thoughtfully and helpfully, but only to continue pounding your chest.

  • So here is where things stand so far: Most people see what the Pope says as strange and weird. The Catholic apologists say that Clint/media/Vatican spokesperson all are misunderstanding what he said. But it seems like everyone agrees that no matter what the Pope said (weather you take Clint’s view, or the whole ‘he just means that atheists can do morally good things too”) it is not compatible with traditional protestant theology. Is that about right? Let’s stop rehashing the same points, and if nobody has anything new to add, I think this thread ran its course and can be closed.

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  • For anyone still following this, TurretinFan over at Alpha & Omega does some great work on this discussion.

    Particularly of interest is TurretinFan’s work on the biblical understanding as redemption, as well as his citation of the Council of Quiercy in 853, which, amidst an errant understanding of the atonement, nevertheless contradicts Francis’s statement by asserting, “…all are not redeemed by the mystery of His [Christ’s] passion.”