Tag Archives: Scriptures

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/

 

Hey Assad! Prepare to make yourself at home with the dead

News reports today, like every other day this week, are telling a gruesome tale of slaughter and brutality in the Syrian civil conflict. These reports are shocking, but not surprising, as the Syrian army uses its heavy weapons ostensibly purchased to fight with the Israeli army to now indiscriminately bombard and kill its own citizens living in the city of Homs and elsewhere in that country.

So the news features stories about the wholesale murder of men, women, and children who happen to be living in neighbourhoods where the popular sentiment is against the government. Any doctors or medical personnel who attempt to treat these wounded civilians in these areas under government bombardment are summarily executed as well. The government is determined to kill all who oppose it, armed or unarmed, as well as their entire families whether young or old. The Assad government is going to make an example of Homs.

Former friends and allies of the Syrian government of Bashar Assad, such as Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and other Persian Gulf states, are now seeking regime change. The Arab League tried to get the United Nations to pass some sort of resolution condemning the indiscriminate bloodshed. But the Russians and the Chinese, who have their own dirty laundry, vetoed the resolution because they don’t want to set a “bad” precedent that might somehow diminish the absolute right of a sovereign power to slaughter rebels as that government sees fit. Iran and Hezbollah are also backing up the Assad government, providing whatever assistance that government requests of them.

The rule of law? Human rights? Elemental civilized behaviour? Not a chance. Power comes out of the barrel of a smoking gun. What we are seeing in Syria is the mere continuance of a millennia-old Middle Eastern custom in which a ruler may use any and all means to assert his authority and punish his enemies.

For instance, the ancient Assyrians enjoyed decapitating the whole population of a rebellious city and then making a pyramid out of their victims’ heads at that city’s main entrance. This would serve as an ancient sort of twitter message to everyone else living in the region: submit or die you scum! The Assyrians liked this message so much they would even decorate their kings’ palaces with graphic portrayals of it.

Unfortunately carnal human nature has not changed much since antiquity. This is one reason the Bible is just as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. Even though it was written so long ago, the book of Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible succinctly nails the nature of Bashar Assad this way:

A wicked ruler over a helpless people 
is like a roaring lion or a charging bear (Proverbs 28:15 Holmen Christian Standard Bible)

Unfortunately, it would appear that at this time the Syrian people are going to receive little if any help from other nations to help stop the Assad government from murdering them by the thousands.

Nevertheless the Syrian regime should know that they will eventually lose power and then be held to account for their blood guilt. Perhaps this prophetic word of deliverance given by a Jewish prophet to his oppressed people thousands of years can lend a little comfort and hope to today’s hard-pressed people of Syria and elsewhere in the world. Let all the wicked rulers of the earth know that the God of Justice has not changed:

When God has given you time to recover from the abuse and trouble and harsh servitude that you had to endure, you can amuse yourselves by taking up this satire, a taunt against the king [of Syria]:
Can you believe it? The tyrant is gone! The tyranny is over!
 God has broken the rule of the wicked, the power of the bully-rulers 
that crushed many people.
A relentless rain of cruel outrage
 established a violent rule of anger rife with torture and persecution.
And now it’s over, the whole earth quietly at rest. 
Burst into song! Make the rafters ring!

Ponderosa pine trees are happy, giant Lebanon cedars are relieved, saying,
”Since you’ve been cut down, there’s no one around to cut us down.”

And the dead are all excited, preparing to welcome you when you come. 
Getting ready to greet you are the ghostly dead, all the famous names of earth.
 All the buried kings of the nations will stand up on their thrones 
with well-prepared speeches, royal invitations to death:
 “Now you are as nothing as we are! Make yourselves at home with us dead folks!” (Isaiah 14:3-10 The Message version).