By Dr. David R. Reagan
Pope Francis has quickly established himself among the masses as a very popular religious leader, but at the same time, he has generated strong resistance from key Catholic leaders. Much of the controversy he has caused is due to his tendency to make off-the-wall comments that produce widespread confusion.
Who is this Pope? Where did he come from? And what is he up to? We’ve asked these questions of Mike Gendron, the founder and director of a ministry in the Dallas, Texas area called Proclaiming the Gospel. Driven by a deep compassion for Roman Catholics, Mike brings the Gospel of grace to those who are victimized by the deception of Roman Catholicism.
Profile on Pope Francis
Dr. Reagan: Pope Francis has quickly established himself as a very popular figure among the Catholic masses. There are several reasons for that. One reason is his dismissal of the majestic trappings of the Papacy, at least some of them. Another reason was his condemnation of corruption in the Catholic Curia. Another reason would be his promotion of Socialism. Another reason would be his questioning of some of the Church’s most questionable or at least most unpopular doctrines.
On the negative side, he appears to be a loose cannon. And thus, every time he speaks out on an issue, the Vatican calls a press conference very quickly and says, “He didn’t mean what he said!” They begin to explain away what he said.
Mike Gendron: Yes, Pope Francis is a very fascinating man. He came out of Argentina. He is a Jesuit, and many people have studied under the Jesuits. Francis is the first ever Jesuit Pope.
A lot of people don’t know the background of the Jesuits. At the Reformation in the 16th Century, the Council of Trent was the beginning of the Counter Reformation. There they recognized that a lot of Catholics were leaving after studying the Bible. The truth was setting them free. And so, the Catholic Church established a Counter Reformation. Part of its leadership was led by Ignatius Loyola who founded the Jesuits. The purpose of the Jesuits at that time was to do anything to thwart the Protestant Reformation. If you look at Church history, they took some pretty drastic measures, including the Inquisition.
Dr. Reagan: So the Jesuits became the defenders of the Catholic Church?
Mike Gendron: They really did. They tried to thwart the exodus of Roman Catholics that were leaving because they’d found out the truth in the Bible. As a result of that great departure from the Catholic Church, the Jesuits’ agenda was to unite the whole world under the power and the influence of the Papacy.
This new Jesuit Pope, Pope Francis, the first one ever, is accelerating the Ecumenical Movement to bring all Christians under the Catholic banner like never before. Today’s movement started in 1965 with Vatican Council II.
Pope Francis made a statement recently that I want to read to you:
“There are many people who share our faith in Christ but belong to other faith confessions or traditions. Throughout history this has been a cause of conflict and suffering. But now it is possible to work toward reconciliation and full communion. We ought to accentuate that which unites us, Jesus, and the richness of His love.”
Ecumenism is the major thrust of his agenda. Francis’ goal is to unite not only all separated brethren, which would be you and me, but also all the religions of the world. He is actively building bridges with non-Christian religions.
As followers of Christ, we need to make sure that people understand that we are not united in the love of Christ, but we are united by faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There can be no unity outside of the Gospel.
Dr. Reagan: And yet, there seems to be many Evangelicals even who think that there can be a united Church.
Mike Gendron: There are. In fact, if you look at the recent months, the Pope is looking for soft spots in the Evangelical world in order to build bridges to the Evangelical Church. This pope has accelerated the Ecumenical Movement.
We need to recognize that he is teaching a false and fatal Gospel. He is not interested in doctrine, he is interested in people who love Jesus. But, and here’s the problem, a lot of Evangelicals don’t know that Catholics worship and trust a different Jesus! The Catholic Jesus is different from the one that is revealed in the Bible.
Dr. Reagan: What do you mean by that when you say a “different Jesus”?
Mike Gendron: The Roman Catholic Jesus is called down from Heaven every day to be offered again and again as a sin offering by the priest on an altar. Transubstantiation happens, Catholics say, to appease the wrath of God. Divine justice is served every day on a Catholic altar. This is not the Jesus of Scripture.
The Jesus of Scripture entered Heaven having obtained eternal redemption. He died once for all for all time. There are no more offerings for sin. We need to point this out to Roman Catholics, and point them to the Christ of the Bible. He is sufficient to save them completely and forever.
Dr. Reagan: It seems that many in the Evangelical world have actually overlooked the differences that brought about the split in the first place, as if the Reformation was of no consequence. All these Protestants who died being burned at the stake, or whatever ridiculous loss of life, at the hands of the Catholic Church, they’re saying there wasn’t that much difference in beliefs the first place. But, that’s not true at all, is it?
Mike Gendron: It’s really heart-breaking to see Evangelicals forget what the Reformers died for. They were brutally tortured and burned at the stake because they stood on the sound rock of the Bible. The Bible was their authority for faith. They would not bow their knee to the Pope.
But now we see Evangelicals going to Pope Francis, and they are forgetting what the Reformation was all about. The Reformation was about how people are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, all for the glory of God alone. But, this Pope is teaching a gospel of works, a gospel that encourages people to receive sacraments in order to obtain eternal life. Catholics do not have the assurance of eternal life because their work of redemption is carried out every day on a Catholic altar.
The Pope on Aliens
Dr. Reagan: Pope Francis has demonstrated an incredible capacity for off-the-wall quotes which just drives the Vatican crazy. They are always calling press conferences to clear up the mess after the Pope has made such statements. Here’s an example from May of 2014, stating that if Martians were to land on earth tomorrow, he would be happy to baptize them. The Vatican hurriedly called a press conference and explained that the Pope was simply trying to say that the Catholic Church is committed to inclusion of all peoples.
Mike Gendron: You’re right. This Pope really does say some things that are out in left field. In fact, often times what he says goes against historic Roman Catholic theology, as well as the Bible.
It’s been noted that this pope has really been good for my ministry, because every time he says something bizarre, radio stations call me up and ask me, “What did the Pope really mean by that?”
It’s really an interesting dilemma for Catholics, because they look at the Pope as infallible, meaning he cannot err in matters of faith and morals. As you said, the Vatican is constantly having to correct what he says.
You mentioned about the Martians. Francis is a very inclusive pope. It goes back to his agenda that claims all people are in the mercy of God. That was another one of his quotes which again goes against the book of Hebrews and says, “God gives mercy to those He wills and hardens those He will.” This pope is unbiblical and he is un-Roman Catholic.
Dr. Reagan: I have a whole list of quotes from key Catholic leaders in which bishops we’re talking about having to strongly criticize this pope for some of the comments he’s made.
Mike Gendron: I hope that Roman Catholics will begin to realize that they cannot trust their bishops, or their pope, but they can find assurance in knowing that the Word of God is the supreme authority. We look through every man’s teaching through the lens of Scripture, including your teaching and mine and the Pope’s. We all need to be Bereans and follow Acts 17:11, which tells us test every man’s teaching.
Dr. Reagan: Right. And who were they testing? Paul. If they are going to test Paul, they should test me, you, the Pope, and everybody else.
The Pope on Atheists Going to Heaven
Mike Gendron: Another one of Pope Francis’ crazy statements was how Atheists can follow their conscience and so go to Heaven.
Dr. Reagan: Yes, Pope Francis’ exact words: “Atheists who do good are redeemed, not just Catholics.”
Mike Gendron: Again, there’s his inclusive gospel again. This teaching goes against historical Roman Catholic theology. The Bible calls Atheist fools. Why? Because they suppress the truth of God and unrighteousness. God has revealed Himself, so these are fools for willfully ignoring the evidence. But the Pope says Atheists who do good works will go to Heaven.
Dr. Reagan: If Atheist can be saved by simply doing good, why should we even bother to preach the Gospel?
Mike Gendron: That is a good point. Roman Catholicism is no different from any other religion of works righteousness. Biblical Christianity says Christ did it all. You are saved by grace through faith, but every other religion including the Pope’s Roman Catholicism says you must do things to appease God.
The Pope on the Big Bang
Dr. Reagan: Here’s another recent quote Pope Francis made: “The Big Bang Theory does not contradict the role of God as divine Creator.”
Mike Gendron: That’s amazing that he would make a statement like that. At least he got the second half of it right. Look at the Genesis account. God the Creator spoke everything into existence in six days. That directly is opposed to a Big Bang Theory.
Dr. Reagan: He’s pretty well indicated that he believes fully in Evolution. Several of his statements have indicated this.
The Pope on Homosexuality
Dr. Reagan: Pope Francis said, “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?”
Mike Gendron: Here again the Pope declares himself to be God’s representative on earth. Why doesn’t he say that God has already judged homosexuality, not only as a sin, but according to Leviticus 18, as an abomination to God. The only hope for a homosexual who is living in this kind of sin is to repent and believe the Gospel, therein he will find the power to overcome homosexuality.
Unless the Pope identifies homosexuals as sinners, then they will continually believe the Pope that sexual immorality is sin not so serious enough to disqualify them for Heaven.
Dr. Reagan: Yes, when Paul talks about homosexuality, for example in the Corinthian letters in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, one of the things that I think is very encouraging is that he points out that some of those in the Corinthian Church had been homosexuals. They had been, but were washed by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ through their faith in Jesus. Once saved, they weren’t continuing to practice homosexuality.
Mike Gendron: The Apostle Paul went on to say, “This is what some of you were, but now you’ve been sanctified, you’ve been justified, you’ve been cleansed with the precious blood of Jesus.”
The Pope on the Divinity of God
Dr. Reagan: This is to me the most off-the-wall statement I have ever read by Pope Francis: “God is not a divine being or a magician.”
Mike Gendron: Where is the outrage? Why aren’t Roman Catholics asking, “Okay, this is enough! He’s gone too far.”
Clearly God is a divine being. That is our only hope. God is a supreme, divine being who not only created us but sent us His Savior to save us from our sins. The only mediator between God and man is the man, Christ Jesus. And so, it is outrageous what he is saying.
Unfortunately, many people believe Pope Francis because of his humility, a false humility I might say, because he wears the titles of God. He wears the title Holy Father and Head of the Church. Francis never died for the Church, but he stole that title from Christ. He says he is the Vicar of Christ.
Pope Francis also is loved by the world because of his ministry to the poor. Why doesn’t he sell the riches of the Vatican and give to the poor if he’s really concerned about the poor? There’s a facade here. He is deceiving the world.
Witnessing to Catholics
Dr. Reagan: Mike, when you talk to the average Catholic, what is the most important subject you focus on?
Mike Gendron: Definitely the authority of Scripture. That must be the leading principle when you witness, because Catholics have three authorities: 1) they have the Word of God, 2) their sacred tradition, and then 3) the “infallible” teaching authority of the Church. We need to eliminate the second two and have them focus on Scripture alone.
The second most important principle you’ve got to present to Catholics is Christ and all of His sufficiency. Jesus did everything necessary to save sinners completely and forever.