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Friday, February 6, 2009
"Luther was Right," says Pope Benedict XVI;Salvation is by Faith Alone
Luther would have been amazed at the efforts of the Vatican today to put the Bible back into the heart of the Roman Catholic Church.In October last, bishops from around the world were called to Rome for a three-week synod to discuss how to promote prayerful reading, understanding and proclamation of God's Word. Pope Benedict XVI himself kicked off the synod with a round-the-clock Bible reading marathon lasting a whole week, by reading the opening verses of Genesis. Twelve hundred readers took part, including Orthodox and Evangelical leaders. Last week, briefly passing through Rome, my wife and I stood in an empty St Peter's Square, where the chairs were still laid out for the 20,000 who had attended the pope's weekly public audience on the Wednesday before. On our return to Holland, we read in the newspaper what the faithful had been told that day. The headline read:Pope quotes Luther: Sola Fide. Luther, the pope had told his audience, had been right to insist in sola fide, that a believer was justified by faith alone!Disagreement over this doctrine had been at the heart of the Reformation in the 16th century, splitting Christianity in western Europe.Yet, said the pope, it was indeed biblical to say, as did Luther, that it was the faith of a Christian, not his works, that saved him. Such faith however could not be separated from love for God and for neighbour, he qualified. Paul wrote about this balance in his letters, especially the letter to the Philippians, he added.The pope defined faith as 'identification with Christ expressed in love for God and neighbour'. Such love fulfilled the law. Being justified meant simply being with Christ and in Christ.Christ alone was sufficient.Living by faith had radical consequences for the Apostle Paul after his conversion on the road to Damascus, explained the pope.Prior to that, his life had been regulated by all sorts of Jewish rules and commandments. Paul's new lifestyle, based on faith in Christ alone, surfaced in his various letters, especially his letter to the Romans.Luther had correctly translated Paul's words as 'justified by faith alone', the well-known sola fide, Benedict affirmed, as reported in the newspaper. Some have blamed the widespread lack of biblical knowledge among Italians, on the Catholic Church due to its monopoly on the teaching of the Bible. The Italian newspaper, La Stampa, responded to a recent survey showing that only 14% of Italians questioned were able to answer questions about the Bible correctly, with the headline: 'In the beginning was the Word - but the Italians don't read it'.
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PS:Even though this is good news coming from the Pope,it seems to me it's a half way statement--if you carefully read what he defines as faith and justification by faith...Therefore Im extremely cautious.
IF and only IF he knows the TRUTH about SALVATION,and he is not openly preaching it and shouting it from the vatican,then... he is GUILTY of HIDING IT from millions of devout catholics that think they are in the right path to heaven.
IF he is just CONFUSED about it,and stillis in spiritual darkenss about the matter...then it is nothing new.
Salvation thru works its at the heart of Roman Catholic doctrine,last time I checked.
IF the Pope would have found out what salvation is really all about,we would have heard of it in the news.
IF he really "got saved" and is scared of coming out of the closet--so to speak--because of his position or because he wants to introduce salvation to millions "from inside"....I dont know...
Whatever way this goes,we should be praying for people like him to really have a personal encounter with the Risen Jesus.
Im not denying the fact that there may be those INside the RCC that are getting really saved--I mean according to biblical standards...but as light is shone on them they will eventually depart from it.
As of today so far--the RCC remains the same,regarding doctrine.
As in the days of Noah....