by Christine Pasciuti
The Pope has stirred things up in recent weeks by sending a video message to Pentecostal Word of Faith leader Kenneth Copeland, urging reconciliation between Catholics and Charismatics. Anglican Episcopal Bishop and friend of the Pontiff, Tony Palmer, stated in an introduction to the video before Copeland’s live audience, “The Catholic and Charismatic Renewal is the hope of the Church,” as ministry followers cheered him on.
He continued by telling the group that his words had come straight from the Vatican. “When my wife saw that she could be Catholic, and Charismatic, and Evangelical, and Pentecostal, and it was absolutely accepted in the Catholic Church, she said that she would like to reconnect her roots with the Catholic culture. So she did.”
“Brothers and sisters, Luther’s protest is over. Is yours?” came the bold proclamation from Palmer, followed by an enthusiastic reaction from Kenneth Copeland himself, who said, “Heaven is thrilled over this…You know what is so thrilling to me? When we went into the ministry 47 years ago, this was impossible.”
Luther’s protest originated out of the Roman Catholic belief that salvation comes through works, and not by faith alone, although Catholicism attempts to deny this premise. It clearly contradicts itself by teaching that certain actions are required in order to become justified and to maintain justification.
Even as late as in 2010, The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states, “Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification.”
In Bishop Palmer’s own video presentation entitled, “The Miracle of Unity Has Begun” on his website thearkcommunity.org (an internet-based, inter-denominational Christian Convergent Community he co-founded), he prefaces Pope Francis’ plea for communion of believers by citing an agreement signed in 1999 between Protestants and Catholics, found on the Vatican website, which he claims essentially ends “Luther’s protest.”
According to Bishop Palmer, the agreement states, “Justification means that Christ Himself is our righteousness, in which we share through the Holy Spirit in accord with the will of the Father. Together we Catholics, and Protestants, Lutherans believe and confess, that by grace alone in faith in Christ’s saving works and not because of any merit on our part we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.”
At the very start of the papacy of Pope Francis, his controversial comments have raised eyebrows. At a celebratory gathering in Rome of fraternal delegates of churches, ecclesial communities and international ecumenical bodies—representatives of the Jewish people and of non-Christian religions—the Bishop of Rome welcomed the group with these words, “I then greet and cordially thank you all, dear friends belonging to other religious traditions; first of all the Muslims, who worship the one God, living and merciful, and call upon Him in prayer, and all of you. I really appreciate your presence: in it I see a tangible sign of the will to grow in mutual esteem and cooperation for the common good of humanity.”
Even more startling are recent sentiments expressed by the Pope in a new apostolic exhortation about “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Quran” being “opposed to every form of violence.”
In his Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis states, “Our relationship with the followers of Islam has taken on great importance, since they are now significantly present in many traditionally Christian countries, where they can freely worship and become fully a part of society…We must never forget that they ‘profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, who will judge humanity on the last day.’”
Francis continues, the “sacred writings of Islam have retained some Christian teachings; Jesus and Mary receive profound veneration and it is admirable to see how Muslims both young and old, men and women, make time for daily prayer and faithfully take part in religious services…Many of them also have a deep conviction that their life, in its entirety, is from God and for God,” he says.
What the Pontiff is really saying here is that Christians and Muslims worship the same God! The Christian faith professes that Jesus Christ is God, (Colossians 2:9: For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form) while Islam denies that God has a Son, refers to Jesus as a prophet and teaches that the doctrine of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is blasphemous.
Columnist Pam Geller, in her recent story on this topic, said, “At a time when Christianity worldwide is under siege by Islamic jihadists, the leader of the Catholic Church claims that the Quran teaches nonviolence,” further illustrating, “…as Christians across the Muslim world live in abject terror and fear of kidnapping, rape and slaughter to the bloodcurdling cries of ‘Allahu Akbar,’ the pope gives papal sanction to the savage.”
Adding to his ecumenical embrace of what has been referred to as “unholy alliances”, the Pope also softens his language on homosexuality, when he said that he could not judge Catholic priests who identify themselves as gay.
Last July, upon his return from a trip to Brazil for World Youth Day, Francis commented to reporters, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?”. “Pope Francis added that gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten. There are now hints by Pope Francis that the Catholic Church may also consider accepting the idea of valid, same-sex civil unions – something unthinkable only a few years ago.
The Pontiff’s attempt at inclusivity for the sake of unity, has accomplished nothing short of adulterating Biblical doctrine. As the Bishop of Rome continues to homogenize differing walks of faith and lifestyle choice for the sake of greater brotherly love, Christians worldwide are recognizing the very building blocks of an emerging One World Religion, as spoken of in the New Testament book of Revelation, Chapter 17, verses 4 and 5:
“The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. The name written on her forehead was a mystery: Babylon the great, the mother of prostitutes, and of the abominations of the earth.”
Evidence would suggest that no other religious system is pushing so hard “to bring all faiths together under one roof to worship what they perceive as the same god…and many are falling for the sweet taste of honey” as even segments of the Evangelical church are nodding ‘yes’ to the temptation.