Over the last week, people have contacted us at Answers in Genesis about some very controversial theological statements recently made by Pope Francis. In a speech on Wednesday, May 22, the Pope seemed to be saying something that his own Roman Catholic Church doesn’t teach. Before I write anything more, I’ll let you read the transcript of the Pope’s quote:
The Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in the depths of our heart: do good and do not do evil . . . 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! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, 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.
Now, unless there is a language barrier I’m unaware of, Pope Francis seems to be saying that everyone, including atheists, has been redeemed and will go to heaven. If I understand this correctly (the media and others have also reported his statements as we understand them from the transcript of the talk), the Pope’s pronouncement contradicts the gospel of Jesus Christ!
What’s more, the Vatican then released an “Explanatory Note on the Meaning of ‘Salvation.’” In this statement Fr. Thomas Rosica confirmed the following:
They cannot be saved who, knowing the [Roman Catholic] Church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her.
The Vatican’s statement doesn’t make the situation any better. Salvation, according to Fr. Rosica, is limited only to members of the Roman Catholic Church. Is that what the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches, that faith comes by the Roman Catholic Church and doing good works?
Of course not! The Apostle Paul tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). Christians are saved by grace, not by doing good works, through faith in Jesus Christ. Christ Himself makes it abundantly clear to Nicodemus what it takes to spend eternity in heaven:
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
Romans 10:9 makes it clear that salvation is received only by those who confess Jesus as Lord and believe in His Resurrection:
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
What this means, of course, is that atheists will not be in heaven, no matter how many good works they do. In fact, members of the Roman Catholic Church, the Baptist Church, the Presbyterian Church (or any other church for that matter) who haven’t believed the gospel of Christ also will not be in heaven. But redemption is available to everyone—atheists included—solely through the saving gospel of Christ!
So for the Roman Catholic Church, we say that the gospel of Christ “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). I urge you to share the gospel with your unbelieving friends, neighbors, relatives, and others today!
Remember the following passages of Scripture:
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,