Pope Francis and the unity of the faith

I’m not a Roman Catholic, nor do I think Pope Francis is the antichrist (or Obama, or whoever your latest villain is). Let me start there.

This post continues the “unity of the faith” theme of my last post.

Previously, I had mentioned the 1999 agreement between Roman Catholics and Lutherans to repair the centuries-old rift between them. Just this week the Pope was in Istanbul  patching up things with the Eastern Orthodox Church, going back to 1054 AD.

So, is he the real deal or does this prove that he’s the “Last Pope” and the Beast in Revelation? (Said with tongue firmly in cheek.)

I say this because when I was researching this subject I came across several videos from the latest Pope-demonizers. It would be humorous entertainment if it weren’t so annoying, misguided and even downright slanderous. It was mostly poisonous fear-mongering filled with sound bites taken out of context.

It’s true that you see what you want to see, based on the interpretative lens by which you read Scripture. Especially, when it comes to an obsession with lurid end-times conspiracy theories.

We’re too often like naughty children who don’t play well with others. If they don’t believe like we do, we stamp the “false prophet” or “antichrist” labels on them with impunity. It’s irresponsible and certainly doesn’t reveal the heart of the Father. After all, these are our brothers and sisters in the faith.

How will the world know us and see His glory?

Is this how Jesus said we would be identified in this world? By our doctrinal purity and lock-step agreement? Or worse, by what we’re against?  We need to take what Jesus said and prayed to heart (bold-type added)…

By this all will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 NKJV)

“that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me,
and I in You; that they also may be one in Us,
that the world may believe that You sent Me.
And the glory which You gave Me I have given them,
that they may be one just as We are one:
I in them, and You in Me;
that they may be made perfect in one,
and that the world may know that You have sent Me,
and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:21-26 NKJV)

It’s pretty clear here that our effective witness in this world comes from abiding in Christ in the Father’s love, and from our love for one another that flows out from this union. Conversely, John also said that when we hate our brother we prove to everyone that we don’t know God and walk in darkness (1 John 2:9-11).

I’m a discerning person and it seems to me that that Pope Francis is genuinely attempting to show this love for his fellow brethren in the body of Christ. I mean, come on, give me a break–we should know he’s not the antichrist! He believes in the Cross, the Father and the Son (see 1 John 2:22)–Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and sole basis of our righteousness. Hello???

I’ve included a short video clip from Pope Francis for this reason. It was recorded on an iPhone by Episcopal Bishop Tony Palmer for the purpose of greeting the people at a Kenneth Copeland Conference last year (sadly, Bishop Palmer died in a motorcycle crash in July).

You can watch the full conference message where Bishop Palmer explains how this all came about here. I highly recommend you watch that too. He was truly a special person. I think it will greatly encourage you. Here’s some excerpts from Bishop Palmer’s messsage about this unity that Jesus prayed for…

“I’ve come to understand that diversity is divine; it’s division that’s diabolical…
…It’s the glory that glues us together, not the doctrine…the glory is the presence of God, and if you accept that the presence of God is in me, and the presence of God is in you, that’s all we need…
…therefore, Christian unity is the basis of our credibility…Division destroys our credibility.”

All I can say is AMEN. He said so many good things. Again, watch it. 🙂

Unity of the Spirit, not the spirit of unity

I’m not talking about holding hands around the globe and singing Kumbaya in some contrived ecumenical movement of men here. I’m talking about basing our relationship on the presence of God in us rather than doctrinal agreement.

There’s a big difference between the spirit of unity and the unity of the Spirit (Eph.4:3) The former is what religious orphans do; the latter is the outcome of sonship.

The unity of the faith shows spiritual maturity

I talked about how divisiveness only proves our spiritual immaturity in my last post. This is why God gave us the equipping gifts–not so we become scripturally arrogant and divisive, but to grow us up into Christ and attain the unity of the faith (bold-type added).

“And He personally gave some to be apostles,
some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
for the training of the saints in the work of ministry,
to build up the body of Christ,
until we all reach unity in the faith
and in the knowledge of God’s Son,
growing into a mature man with a stature
measured by Christ’s fullness.” (Eph.4:11-13 HCSB)

It’s until we not only believe in Jesus, we believe like Jesus. I don’t think we’re there yet. And until we get this, we won’t show the world the Father’s glory that Jesus talked about. Our credibility will always be undermined by our spiritually immature need to constantly be bickering over our differences.

So, here’s the video clip. I think you’ll see that the Pope’s intent here is clearly heart-felt, to bridge the long division between our heavenly Father’s children (Mal.4:6).

To that, I say, amen.

Photo: Bishop Palmer and Pope Francis

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 42 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
This entry was posted in Father Heart of God, John 14-17, Sonship and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Pope Francis and the unity of the faith

  1. neodecaussade says:

    Reblogged this on Neodecaussade’s Weblog and commented:
    A message of mature faith and love. I liked the posting. I hope you will also.

  2. neodecaussade says:

    Dear In My Father’s House.
    Lovely message. I will pray for you. God bless.

  3. John Cummuta says:

    Love this. Very encouraging that we’re getting close to our King’s return.

  4. Cindy Powell says:

    “I’m not talking about holding hands around the globe and singing Kumbaya in some contrived ecumenical movement of men here. I’m talking about basing our relationship on the presence of God in us rather than doctrinal agreement.” Amen!!Catching up on blog reading today. This is a topic that has always pressed so heavily upon my heart. Praying we finally come to the place where we love HIM more than we love being right. (And PS – I really like Pope Francis so I’m relieved to hear he’s NOT the antichrist after all,whew! 🙂 )

    • Mel Wild says:

      Amen. I’m with you on that prayer. And I’m glad I could relieve your fears about him being the antichrist. I’m sure you were really worried about that. 🙂

  5. Mel, I love this Pope. I believe he is authentically reaching out to all Christian brothers and sisters and has taken the first step in asking God for that miracle he has so poignantly declared has begun. What a wonderful blessing. Thank you for sharing this. I may have to use that clip in a future post of my own. 🙂

  6. Kelly Joel Weiler says:

    Very nice in sentiment, brotherly love intended by many of you. But grey is not the place the Spirit of the Lord dwells!

    When it comes to religion, Catholicism, roots far more steeped in Babylonian religions than Christ’s gospel; is not Christ.

    I don’t know why with so much clear evidence on this available, some people with kind, brotherly,
    ‘I want to get along with everybody’, hearts, are deceived by this whole deal.

    Even as Israel was many times severely compromised by the same gods the pantheon of Catholicism carry the banners of (study it out, really give a good go – please, the internet is easy to use); Israel had such great infusions of this pagan worship (repleat with the worship of Astarte etc – modern English: Easter).

    No, easter is not passover, and the virgin worship is not some innocent “oops, that’s just one of our little Catholic bloopers, let’s just all get along, come on you little protest-ant, have you stopped your protest-ing, good now, kiss my ring and call me ‘FATHER’, and we’ll all be fine brothers ‘MY’ children”..

    Be discerning, there is a movement that has been in the workings for some time now, it is called ‘the One World Ecumenical Movement”. It is a very studious work that the Vatican and many other religious leaders internationally have been working on for some time now. It is not the “unity of the brethren” written in scripture, but often of “false brethren”, as Paul already faced in his time. Or as was written even back then Acts 20:29 “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you . .”

    Catholicism is NOT the Christ WAY he jealously authored. A wolf in sheeps’ clothing is still a wolf.
    [EDITED by blog owner]

    • Mel Wild says:

      Kelly, I edited your rather vitriolic response because it was very long and I get your point. You don’t think Catholics are real Christians. This “discernment,” as you say, has been around since the Reformation. Nothing new there. Over the years, I have read all the books about this stuff, seen a lot of the conspiracy theories about One World Ecumenical movements on the Internet. Sorry, but I don’t think Pope Francis is the antichrist. I obviously don’t know him but I have discernment too. And from what I have heard from him, I can discern that he genuinely loves Jesus.

      There’s a vast difference between the spirit of unity (ecumenical) and the “unity of the Spirit” (Eph.4:3). One is humanistic, the other is born from the Father’s love. Both will certainly exist, but Jesus told us the world would know us by our love for one another, not by our doctrinal agreement (John 13:35; 17:23). We’re not to be divisive, fear-driven spiritual orphans, bickering over who’s right and who’s wrong. We’re much loved sons and daughters, living in our Father’s embrace as one very diverse body in Christ. If someone trusts in Christ as their Savior, whether they are a Catholic or a Fundamentalist, then they are my brother, regardless of their religious baggage. And believe me, every part of the body of Christ has doctrinal baggage. And speaking of knowing Christ, John tells us if we hate our brother, we prove that we don’t know God and we walk in darkness (1 John 2:9-11; 4:7-8). Food for thought.

      Blessings to you.

      • Kelly Joel Weiler says:

        notice I didn’t say all Catholics are not Christians, but some few I have met do know him, albiet steeped and distracted with Mary worship. I also didn’t say the pope was ‘the antichrist’. Although there are many antichrists, have been, and will be one who caps it all off. Do you think however, that a ‘false’ brother, can easily be discerned, always.

        I’ve been a discerning, Jesus loving, praying, loving people Christian for many decades too. And I do not walk around with unhealed, or orphan wounds. Nor do I go around wounding. A true knowing Jesus, not just Jesus sentiments, is essential for leaders because what we say is so important to others. There are also fundamental doctrines which cannot be compromised.

        Catholicism’s current surface agreement with Protestants, is still only sentimental, it is not agreement in any way with the deeper fundaments of salvation and the walk with the Lord.

        They say there is The Father, the Son, who is Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. They say Jesus died and rose again. But from their on we deviate at every point on the path.

        If a walk with god is gained, as you listen to their current media representatives and speakers, they clearly hold to the follower of Christ cannot follow, if they would continue on to ‘know’ the Lord. They will ‘know’ the sacraments, and have faith in such externals, but it will keep them in externals. Saying rosaries, lifting up wafers, believing their salvation is in things that represent God, and acts that represent God and priests that rape little boys, hear your confession, and have power to absolve the unrepentant of sin.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Again, I’ve had to edit your comments. I will not let you use my blog to propagate the same vitriolic anti-Catholic propaganda that’s been around for centuries. Yes, they have a LOT of pagan baggage from their long history. I have extensively studied Babylonian religions and their roots in world religions. But I’ve also studied all the pagan baggage that Protestants and evangelicals have embraced–from Greek philosophy and Gnosticism to Western humanistic enlightenment rationalism, which has been deeply engrained in the evangelical/protestant church since the Reformation. Should we bring back our own version of the Spanish Inquisition now and put every denomination under our doctrinal microscope?

          We’re not talking about people who deny Jesus as the Son of God, which is what an antichrist spirit is (1 John 2:22). We’re talking about Christians who embrace Him, who love Jesus, even if it’s with a distorted understanding (which we all have).

          Look, I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, historically. But it’s not about agreeing with Catholics, or anyone else, on everything doctrinally or traditionally. This is why documents like the Nicene Creed were created. To determine what is the Christian confession, not trying to make everyone be in lockstep agreement on our doctrine. I don’t see a violation of this confession here.

          When we see ourselves as one in Christ, as He is one in the Father (John 14:20), then we will see our brothers and sisters there too (from every part of Christianity), then maybe the people in the world that Jesus died for will start listening to us as Jesus said they would instead of shaking their heads in derision over these kinds of arguments and wanting nothing to do with us. That’s not the gospel’s fault; that’s our fault.

        • I don’t think of any religious leader in Christendom as one who has it all figured out. I don’t follow anyone as my sole spiritual leader. When I agree I agree. Where I don’t agree I don’t think of them as a wolf. I just think they are wrong. The only people who might be wolves are the ones who want me to think they know how to interpret and apply every single thing the Bible says. We are all God’s children. Some of us just need more fixing than others.

  7. Pingback: Why I don’t like labels | In My Father's House

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