Did You Really Mean What You Said Mr. Pope Francis Sir?!

By Scott Fowler

In a recent interview with La Civilta Cattolica, an Italian Jesuit magazine, Pope Francis expresses his concern that the Catholic Church, at least as it pertains to its moral credibility, might “fall like a house of cards” unless the church finds a balance between its dogmatic declaration of truth and its love for people. That sounds like the voice of wisdom and maturity. I would say that it reflects a naiveté, but I really think it more reflects bad doctrine.

For one thing, the Pope’s idea that we have to “heal” the wounds of a person before we can speak to him is fine unless the wounds are the sin. There is no healing the wounds of homosexuality while at the same time accepting the homosexuality. There is no healing of the sin of abortion unless the acceptance of abortion is dealt with.

Now, I am not Catholic, nor am I reformed. I am a Pentecostal evangelical. So, I reject any idea of compromising with sin for the sake of relationship. That’s not the same as saying that there can be no relationship with a sinner. It just means that relationship must be grounded in truth and transparency. You can always find someone who decries the sermon against sin in favor of a kinder, gentler, more embracing Christianity. And I am all for that unless the kindness and gentleness requires one to look the other way and compromise Scripture.

Third, the reason we have to talk about abortion and homosexuality is because that there are massive special interest groups pressing for them to be normative. The church should address all sins and preach the balanced word of God but there are no special interest groups trying to legislate the acceptance of lying or adultery.

Finally, the church and the culture must come to grips with the truth that while the church is against homosexuality it can be so and still love the homosexual. But we will not be showing love by winking at the sin. When Lou Giglio was “uninvited” to participate in the Inaugural festivities earlier this year, I felt like he missed an opportunity to say to the nation, “It is possible to be against homosexuality and not hate the homosexual.”

6 thoughts on “Did You Really Mean What You Said Mr. Pope Francis Sir?!

  1. Mike D

    I’m Protestant, not Catholic, but I think your assessment of Francis’ answer is frankly unfair. You’re assuming the worst of his statement (http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/02/28/dont-assume/). The apostle Paul said we are to speak the truth in love, so there’s no problem with his statement in your first paragraph. And if by “heal” (in the second paragraph) he means correct the caricature that Christians hate homosexuals so that a homosexual will actually give a thought to the truth you have to say, then what’s wrong with that?

    Also, the Catholic church’s catechism, which should be consulted since their ex cathedra doctrine, seems to agree with your “correction” of Francis’ statement:
    2471 Before Pilate, Christ proclaims that he “has come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.” The Christian is not to “be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord.” In situations that require witness to the faith, the Christian must profess it without equivocation, after the example of St. Paul before his judges. We must keep “a clear conscience toward God and toward men.”

    2472 The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds. Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known.
    All Christians by the example of their lives and the witness of their word, wherever they live, have an obligation to manifest the new man which they have put on in Baptism and to reveal the power of the Holy Spirit by whom they were strengthened at Confirmation.

    Also, why take a jab at the “Reformed”? Read Calvin’s Institutes or maybe Owen’s Mortification of Sin or Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics or Jonathan Edwards (especially) or Augustine etc. etc. before implying the Reformed compromise sin.

    Despite the above comments, I do appreciate your stance against homosexuality, and I agree with it. So thank you for that.

    Blessings.

    • cscottfowler

      Hi Mike D

      Well, I think you have misread my article and misunderstood the Pope’s call for healing. First, I don’t think the Pope is talking about healing in the way you summarized when you said, “And if by ‘heal’ (in the second paragraph) he means correct the caricature that Christians hate homosexuals so that a homosexual will actually give a thought to the truth you have to say, then what’s wrong with that?” I think rather he is talking about healing the divide between Christians and, let’s say, the homosexual community that has arisen because they feel that our stance against their ‘sin’ is equivalent to hate. There is no way in my estimation to heal that divide unless we accept their sin as un-sinful.

      As far as my reference to reformed theology, I was actually only trying to be clear about where my theological beliefs are located, not trying to make any comment that would see Reformed believers compromising with sin. I will say now that you bring it up that there are misguided “whiskey Calvinists” who seem to hold a doctrine of eternal security without awareness of Beza’s previous four pillars of TULIP.

      My issue here is that I have heard the voices of Catholic priests in the news who somehow feel that we can hug our way through this divide without dealing with the sin.

      I am very grateful for your response Mike D

  2. Mike D

    Thank you for the clarification on both points. If that is what he meant then I would agree with your criticism.

    Arminius was a student of Beza, which I’m sure had influence on his divergence from the Reformed faith. But the Canons of Dort (specifically under heading 5) corrected that position and remain a faithful summary of the Reformed position of Eternal Security: Christ cannot lose any who belong to him (John 10:28), salvation not being man’s ability to hold on to God, but God graciously holding on to his people, etc. But anyway that is a different topic than the post.

    But anyway, thanks again for the post!

    • cscottfowler

      Excellent points Mike D! I welcome your insights and comments any time. My normal stance about Calvinism is that if we can agree that God’s intent is for us to walk before Him in love, humility, and holiness, I don’t prefer to hash out our theological differences. You seem to be very knowledgeable! Thanks for sharing your knowledge here!

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