Tag Archives: Christ

Can a new Pope bring repentance to the Church of Rome?

potential popesIn a CBC radio interview I listened with interest to an intelligent, young, American Jesuit seminarian who prayerfully called on whoever might be the new Roman Catholic Pope “to lead us into a new age of integrity and to deliver us from hypocrisy—so that we can really be who we say we are!”

This aspiring priest believes it’s imperative for the Roman Catholic Church to really become faithful to Jesus Christ. To achieve this would require dramatic changes in order to bring that church into conformity with the way of life that the Son of God taught in both word and deed as recorded in the Scriptures.

Mission impossible? Well, that man’s not asking for much, is he? Repentance and change!  Not easy but essential to both experiencing and living authentic Christianity as described in the pages of your Bible. But repentance/change is, after all, the profession of every individual Christian and every group of people who want to be a church “of God” in reality and not merely in self-promoting advertising.

A new pope is going to have his work cut out for him if he wants to bring the Roman Catholic Church to the biblical repentance that would please Christ.  What with seemingly unending bad news arising from its on-going flood of clerical pedophile sex cases, and the Vatican Bank’s (the ironically named Institute for Religious Works) stinky reputation in banking circles as a go-to-place for money laundering by traditionally Catholic Mafioso types.

Also, one can’t neglect to add to this new pope’s to-do-list, actions to get to the bottom of the ongoing allegations of various forms of ecclesiastical corruption that include ugly bureaucratic turf battles among the Curia’s Cardinals, and—surprise, surprise—scandalous allegations that some of the papal staff formerly close to Pope Benedict XVI were embracing homosexual practices more enthusiastically than their vows of celibacy.

Wow, what a revolution of change and repentance would occur in the above situation if a new pope actually took his policy and doctrinal cue from biblical teaching about clerical marriage such as found in 1 Timothy 3:2 in order to get at the root of what’s causing that church to be rife with sexual abuse and perversion. But, don’t hold your breath.cardinals

It’s hardly surprising, then, that Massimo Franco, a columnist for Italy’s leading daily newspaper, Corriere della Sera, describes the Vatican as being utterly dysfunctional in his new book “The Crisis of the Vatican Empire.” No wonder every employee working at the Vatican and all the Cardinals locked up in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new Pope are required to take vows of secrecy. What goes on at the Vatican must stay at the Vatican!

But then, what can you expect from an organization that would not even tolerate an individual’s religious freedom of conscience until the Vatican II Council in the early 1960s. Remember that the Roman Catholic Church has a long and bloody history written by its popes’ decrees. Those men who styled themselves as the successor of the Apostle Peter ordered Crusades to slaughter those they saw as “infidels” whether Muslim, Jew, or especially non-conformist Christian.

It makes you wonder when you compare Christ’s teaching to his disciples to the reality revealed by the Catholic Church’s own history.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” John 13:34-36 English Standard Version

Following the crusades, these same popes also formulated and launched a network of terrorism inquisition2throughout the world, which persisted for almost 600 years and was known as the Inquisition. The Roman popes even authorized various forms of horrific torture by a papal bull entitled Ad Extirpanda in 1254 that would make the CIA’s use of waterboarding for interrogations look like playing tag football. Bloody, harsh, and violent were the Inquisitorial methods! The Roman Catholic Popes employed these tactics in order to enforce their monopoly on power and their domination over the expression of all individual Christians’ faith.

Is there something inherently flawed about the Roman Catholic Papacy—whether we’re talkingpapal crown about the office itself and/or its doctrinal claim to authority over Christianity—so that it can’t be reformed, no matter the initial decent nature of the man who might occupy the so-called “seat of St. Peter”? We all know this saying about the human condition: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Check out this series of four presentations discussing the foundations of church authority. Did Christ give the Apostle Peter and his successors authority as “vicars of Christ”? Does the Pope have the authority “to bind and loose” in all matters of doctrine and tradition? Where did Sunday/Easter worship originate and why? How has Christianity changed from what was practiced by the original Jerusalem Church of God during the first 100 years after the crucifixion of Jesus? All these questions and more are discussed and examined in four in-depth streaming video presentations on this subject.

Just click on: http://cogwebcast.com/sermons/video-archives/a-changed-christianity/

 

Is Islam of the Devil?

Terry Jones, leader of a small Protestant church (Dove International Outreach Church in Gainesville, Florida) with about 30 members managed to capture worldwide attention, some would say notoriety, over his plan to burn copies of the Koran, the Islamic holy book on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington that killed almost 3,000 people.

Mr. Jones asserts that Jesus would have approved of his plan for “Burn a Koran Day”– if he had gone ahead with his symbolic protest. Some people have dismissed Terry Jones’ proposal to burn the Koran as merely an attention-seeking stunt by that preacher to help promote his book entitled “Islam Is of the Devil.”

Nevertheless, this non-event did occupy a significant amount of space in the media both in the West and the Muslim world. As of Sept. 13th, 16 protesters (14 Muslim Indians in Kashmir  plus two Afghanis in Afghanistan) and two Indian policemen have been killed, and scores injured as demonstrators attacked government buildings and burned a Christian school in a protest against the Koran burning that never took place.

One reader of Canada’s National Post newspaper blogged this reaction to a story about the widespread fears of Muslim violence voiced by many Western leaders such as Barak Obama who seem to be more willing to appease Muslim anger through self-censorship rather than defend their own citizens’ free speech rights:

“A Christian’s reaction to someone who burns a Bible: “I forgive you!” A Muslim’s reaction to someone who burns a Koran: “I will kill you!” Now you understand the basic difference between Christianity and Islam.”

Muslims presently account for 22% of the world’s population or 1.5 billion people. By the end of the 21st Century due to their polygamy and greater birth rate, they will account for about 50% of the world’s population.

Unfortunately, Islam and the Koran allow for neither freedom of conscience nor freedom of expression. Just ask yourself, “How many Christian cultural centres/house of worship have been built in or near the historic Ground Zero (Saudi Arabia) of the Islamic politico-religious movement during the last 50 years in order to take care of the spiritual needs of hundreds of thousands of Christian ex-pats working there? The answer is ZERO! And, did you know that any Saudi Arabian Muslim who converts to Christianity is automatically sentenced to death! Should freedom-loving Christians be concerned about such Muslim hypocrisy? Is Islam of the Devil as Pastor Terry Jones maintains?

For secularists this is an impossible question to ask much less answer since their knowledge and experience is limited to mere materialism. Consequently, spiritual understanding is beyond the grasp of most of our Western politicians. However, there is a Middle Easterner who can and did answer this question. His name is Jesus of Nazareth who is popularly called the Christ by Christians.

Surprising, we can simply answer the question of Islam’s moral parentage by answering the question as to Jesus’. Was Jesus the Son of God as well as the Son of Man?

The official Islamic point of view is as quoted:

“And they [Christians] say: ‘The Most Merciful [God] has taken [for Himself] a son.’ Assuredly you [Christians] utter a hideous thing, whereby almost the heavens are torn, and the earth is split asunder and the mountains fall in ruin; that they [Christians] ascribe unto the Most Merciful a son, when it is not suitable for [the Majesty of] the Most Merciful that He should take a son. There is none in the heavens and the earth but comes unto the Most Merciful as a slave,” (Koran 19:88-93).

The official Christian response is given in the gospel of the apostle John who personally worked with Jesus of Nazareth and wrote down his teachings. I will quote this passage substituting the name of one monotheistic people, the Jews, who claim Abraham as their ancestor (through Isaac and Jacob) for another, the Muslims,  (through Ishmael and Esau). See if this helps you answer this question.

John 8:31 (NKJV) Then Jesus said to those Muslims who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.   

37 “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.”

39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father.”

Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”   48 Then the Muslims answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51 Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”

52 Then the Muslims said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’ 53 Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?”

54 Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. 55 Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”

57 Then the Muslims said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”

58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” [Jesus was saying that pre-existing His human birth that He was the God of the Old Covenant who delivered the ancient Israelites from the oppressive hands of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. See Exodus 3:14.]

59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the [mosque], going through the midst of them, and so passed by.